Our analysts have found angles on four of those games, with picks on Giants-Nationals, Astros-Red Sox, Rockies-Marlins and Royals-Athletics. Here are our four best bets from Thursday’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals||7:05 p.m. ET|
|Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics||9:40 p.m. ET|
San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
|Pitchers||Anthony DeSclafani vs. Max Scherzer|
|First Pitch||7:05 p.m. ET|
Sean Zerillo: I was high on the San Francisco Giants coming into the season, and in our preseason NL podcast preview I stated that I would likely end up betting on the Giants from game to game more than any other team.
Ultimately, they have been the most profitable team in baseball this season (+$1,469, 27.2% ROI for a consistent $100 bettor) and have racked up profit as underdogs (18-13, +$1,051, 33.9% ROI). Still, I didn’t see them having — or even contending — for the best record in baseball through two months, or I would have bet the Giants’ NL West and World Series futures in addition to their win total (closed 75.5).
Their performance to date is legitimate (Pythagorean record matches their actual record), but the Giants’ offense took a big blow last week when Evan Longoria — who has ranked in the top 10% of hitters this year by virtually every important Statcast metric — sustained a shoulder injury.
A trio of new hitting coaches has helped to unlock a late-career resurgence for many of these Giants’ stars, and their organization has combined that offensive uptick with the second-best pitching staff (.295 xwOBA allowed) behind the Dodgers (.289).
Anthony DeSclafani (3.62 xERA, 4.08 xFIP, 4.19 SIERA) was one of the sneaky offseason pitching additions acquired by Farhan Zaidi and staff, and the righty has made some adjustments to help generate a career-best 49% groundball rate, which pairs well with the Giants’ defense (+23 Defensive Runs Saved, seventh in MLB).
After a disappointing 2020 season — on the heels of an exhausting postseason run — Max Scherzer has resumed his Hall-of-Fame form (2.71 xERA, 3.06 xFIP, 2.64 SIERA) for the struggling Nationals (25-33).
I have nothing against Scherzer, but I still think he’s a bit overvalued on Thursday night, as I have the Giants projected at 39.6% for the first five innings (F5) and closer to 42% the full game. So I would place those bets down to +170 and +155, respectively.
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
|Pitchers||Zack Greinke vs. Eduardo Rodriguez|
|First Pitch||7:10 p.m. ET|
Collin Whitchurch: Zack Greinke vs. Eduardo Rodriguez is, in a nutshell, a pretty appealing pitching matchup.
But that’s before you remember that Greinke isn’t what he was during his Cy Young-contender peak and that Rodriguez hasn’t been his usual self this season after his scary battle with COVID-19 last year.
Greinke has actually pitched very much like an ace over the last three weeks or so. He tossed a complete game against the Blue Jays last time out, and has gone eight innings or more and allowed just one earned run in three of his last four starts.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, continues to be frustrating for the Fenway faithful, and got shelled for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against these very same Astros just 11 days ago.
That’s par for the course for the Astros against lefties, though. They have the best wRC+ in the majors against southpaws at 128, and Thursday should be no different.
That’s why I was a bit surprised to see the Astros as underdogs in at least a few spots. The +101 number cited here isn’t likely to be found at a good number of books, but I’ve seen some -105 out there, and would be comfortable betting Houston’s full-game moneyline to -120, which you should be able to find just about anywhere.
Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins
|Pick||Marlins First 5 Innings -0.5 (-139)|
|Pitchers||Chi Chi González vs. Trevor Rogers|
|First Pitch||7:10 p.m. ET|
Brad Cunningham: Happy Chi Chi González day! González is once again getting shelled at the big league level, posting an xERA of 5.80. His K/9 rate is an embarrassingly low 4.66 and opponents are hitting .280 against him. His main two pitches of fastball and slider are getting tagged, as both are allowing a wOBA over .350 to opposing hitters. Miami has been below average against right-handed pitching with a .295 wOBA and 91 wRC+, but should be able to get to González .
Trevor Rogers is having a fantastic season so far, posting a 2.99 xERA and 3.44 xFIP. The reason for that is because he’s striking out batters left and right, with a K/9 of 10.62.
The biggest improvement for Rogers in 2021 has been his fastball. Last season, opponents crushed it to the tune of a .440 wOBA, but this season he’s brought that down to .301. He’s starting to utilize his changeup more often, too. That’s by far his best pitch, as opponents hit only .198 against it.
Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics
|Pick||Over 8 (-104)|
|Pitchers||Mike Minor vs. Frankie Montas|
|First Pitch||9:40 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I’m fading Frankie Montas. The sinker-baller is pretty bad at his job, which is to induce soft groundballs, allowing an average launch angle of 14.7 and a gaudy 90.7 mph off the bat. It’s because of this that Montas has struggled so mightily, to the tune of a 4.52 ERA; his sinkers stay up and out over the plate to get absolutely demolished.
The Royals have been pretty sharp in the contact department of late, hitting .269 over the past two weeks with plenty of quality in those batted ball events with a 42.4% hard-hit rate to rank sixth within the split. This lineup is peaking once again, and should be a prime candidate to get some runs on the board early and often.
But wait, there’s more! The A’s come into this game with the fifth-best wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and draw Mike Minor, who has allowed a pretty bad .393 xwOBA on contact to go along with a poor 8.2% walk rate. He’s been no hero for Kansas City, and is fresh off a five-run outing against the lowly Twins.
Simply put, getting short -104 odds on this over, and a chance to even push with just eight runs, is a gift that I’m going to be taking.