12 games. Four afternoon games begin the day’s slate, highlighted by the Yankees-Rays series finale. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole aims to guide his team to a series win against the first-place Rays. There are two series openers in the National League involving teams looking to win their respective divisions in Thursday’s night games. A battle of surprise first-place teams takes place in the Bay Area as the Cubs face the Giants, while the ailing Mets continue to pile up wins and now meet the Padres.
Do any of these marquee games catch our eye from a betting perspective?
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Thursday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 72-55-3 (+10.42 units)
Boston Red Sox Team Total OVER 4.5 runs (+114)
The Boston Red Sox enter this game with the sixth-most runs scored and the third-highest batting average and OPS in the majors. However, they have been stymied by the Astros and Marlins, who have held them to three runs or fewer in each of their last four games. The Red Sox offense is a good bet to get right against a pitcher they are very familiar with from his days in the AL East, former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
Odorizzi has struggled this season, pitching to a 6.75 ERA while losing his only two decisions. His career numbers against Boston are not much better, going 4-6 with a 4.70 ERA in 18 starts against them. This is Odorizzi’s second start since missing a month earlier this season with a right pronator strain. Though he pitched well in limiting the Padres to one run in 5.1 innings, the Astros were cautious with him and removed him after 87 pitches. Given that Houston’s bullpen entered Wednesday ranked 20th in the majors with a 4.50 ERA, the Red Sox offense should benefit from what is likely to be at least four innings against below-average relievers.
Boston’s two biggest bats, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts are a combined 15-for-44 (.341) with eight extra-base hits in their career against Odorizzi. While the rest of the Red Sox lineup has a combined 27 plate appearances against Odorizzi, look for Boston’s two biggest stars to be the table-setters for what should be a productive offensive day.
Rangers-Rockies UNDER 10.5 runs (-110)
The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies rank in the bottom half of the league in runs scored and the bottom third of the league in OPS, despite each team playing their home games in ballparks conducive to scoring runs. Thus, those that wager on the over simply because of the altitude at Coors Field are misguided, primarily because of the home/road splits of the Rockies pitcher.
Jon Gray (4-5, 3.71 ERA) has a 4.86 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers. However, the players that did the most damage to Gray earlier in his career are gone, as he has faced just four current Rangers, and they are a combined 2-for-16 (.125 BA against him). Gray is 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in five home starts this year, as his struggles have mostly been on the road. Away from Coors Field, Gray has lost all four of his road starts and pitched to a 6.75 ERA.
Texas’s Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 4.31 ERA) does not have the most appealing numbers either, but his recent form suggests he could turn in another great outing. Foltynewicz has allowed just two runs on nine hits in his last 14 innings, which has helped lower his ERA from 5.18. Though he has not won any of his three road starts, his road ERA is 0.43 runs lower than at home. Colorado’s Trevor Story has landed on the 10-day IL, while their other biggest bat, Charlie Blackmon, is 2-for-19 (.105 BA) against Foltynewicz. Thus, there are not many spots in the Rockies lineup that will present problems for Foltynewicz this afternoon.
The under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings between these teams in Colorado and 7-1 in their previous eight meetings overall. Look for another low-scoring matchup with an inflated total today.
Chicago Cubs ML (+110)
We liked the Red Sox’s chances of scoring runs today because of their familiarity with the opposing pitcher, and that is precisely why we like the Chicago Cubs’ chances to win their series opener against the Giants.
The Cubs face a familiar foe in Anthony DeSclafani (4-2, 3.56 ERA), as he spent the last five seasons in their division with the Cincinnati Reds. DeSclafani is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 12 career starts against the Cubs. Chicago enters this game having won 11 of its last 13 games, while DeSclafani is trending downwards after an excellent start to the season. He has thrown just 7.1 combined innings over his previous two starts and has raised his ERA 1.43 runs in that span.
Chicago’s biggest bats have fared well against DeSclafani in their careers. Kris Bryant is batting .348 with two doubles and two home runs against him, so he is a great candidate to improve upon his .318 batting average and 12 home runs after yesterday’s routine day off. In addition to Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Joc Pederson have taken DeSclafani deep a combined five times, and all current Cubs hitters are hitting a combined .300 while slugging .678 against the Giants pitcher.
The Cubs are just 2-6 in their last eight road games against the Giants but have won four straight against them head-to-head. Thus, there is value in Chicago today, who have played great baseball the last two weeks.
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