An abridged version of the MLB picks and analysis article is coming your way for Thursday. With two afternoon games and three of the late games already previewed by yours truly, we’ll take a look at the other games in more of a rapid fire fashion. A couple of games feature very heavy favorites and those of you that read these articles regularly or listen to The Bettor’s Box (new episode!) know that I don’t like to go over -140 all that often. Omitting the Cubs vs. Pirates game because of lead time, here’s a look at the rest of the card.
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Oakland at Chicago (AL) (-160); Total: 8.5
Sean Nolin and Jose Quintana battle in a matchup of southpaws in this one. Nolin, once thought of as a pretty good prospect in the Blue Jays organization, is the type of pitcher that the A’s love to try and squeeze value out of. He’s a fly ball left-hander with pitch-to-contact stylings and reasonable minor league walk rates. In two starts, Nolin has kept his team in the game, which is all that the A’s really look for out of guys like this.
The White Sox are terrible against left-handed pitching and Oakland isn’t a whole lot better. The total in this game is way too high. After a lot of runs over the first three games, these two teams aren’t interested in a slugfest in this game. I think you have to look for the under in an early game with both teams hitting the road after this one. The White Sox head to Cleveland and Oakland goes to Houston.
Miami at Washington (-190); Total: 8
I like Tanner Roark a lot. The Nationals are in good shape with Roark and Ross over Fister and Zimmermann in the rotation next season. There’s no value on the Nationals at this price against Jarred Cosart and the Marlins. There’s really no value on anything in this game. The total of 8 seems about right for two guys that are going to allow a lot of balls in play.
Toronto (-200) at Atlanta; Total: 8
There’s not a whole lot of support in the betting market for Matt Wisler in a regular start, let alone one against the Toronto Blue Jays. Julio Teheran shut Toronto down on Wednesday, but Wisler doesn’t have the same type of polish to his pitches. The 22-year-old has promise, but he’s in over his head in this start. Marco Estrada, surprisingly, improved his numbers across the board with a league change to the tougher league. Facing a National League lineup should be like child’s play for him now. Unfortunately, I don’t see any value on the total either.
Kansas City at Cleveland (-125); Total: 7
The first of three games previewed by me for today’s slate. Check out that preview here.
Baltimore (-115) at Tampa Bay; Total: 8
The market is coming in against Matt Moore, which should come as a shock to absolutely nobody. His return from Tommy John has not been pretty. Moore’s velocity has not returned as hoped. It’s not coming out of the hand well and it isn’t sustaining much life on the way to the plate. This has been a growing trend, even before the surgery. Moore was one of the most electric young southpaws in the league just a few years ago. Those days seem to be behind him, but it is worth waiting on him for next season to see if the extended time off will help.
Chris Tillman picked a bad year to regress. He has a 5.21/4.48/4.53 in a walk year with a drop in strikeouts, a spike in walks, a drop in command, and he hasn’t been able to get out of jams like he has in the past. The silver lining in this start for Tillman is that the Rays are a much better offensive club against lefties than they are against righties. By much better, I mean that they are about as bad against righties as they are good against lefties.
That’s the reason for the line move. Personally, I’m not sure I want to back either guy, but I respect the line move here and Baltimore would be my pick if I went in on this game.
Houston at Texas (-110); Total: 9
The second of three games previewed by me for today’s card. Check that one out right here.
Los Angeles (AL) at Minnesota (-125); Total: 8.5
We’ve already seen some morning money on Tommy Milone and the Twins. You can read more about my thoughts on the game here.
St. Louis (-145) at Milwaukee; Total: 7.5
The Cardinals are going for the sweep here, so they’re fixed, right? Not so fast, my friend. The Cardinals have been pretty terrible offensively in this series that’s something that has plagued them throughout the second half of the season. I had a lot more thoughts on them in Thursday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box.
In this one, John Lackey, who is the best bargain in baseball given his age and experience, What impresses me the most about Lackey is that he hasn’t worn down in the second half. His SLG against is up a little bit, but the K/BB rates are pretty close and he’s not showing any velocity decline. That’s a really good thing for the Cardinals because they’re having issues with other pitchers.
Jimmy Nelson is a guy that should be better than he is. The stuff is solid, there aren’t a lot of stats that stick out as outliers, but yet he can’t get out of his own way to do better than a 4.14 FIP and a 4.08 xFIP. He should set a new high in innings pitched in this start, but he’s been pretty consistent throughout the season. With the Brewers, you don’t get a whole lot of run support and the bullpen’s not spectacular. Nelson may take the next step at some point, but he needs to find a third pitch to get rid of that .294/.379/.491 split against lefties. The Cardinals should be able to take advantage of that and grab the win here.