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MLB Best Bets for Thursday: White Sox vs. Guardians, Pirates vs. Mets, More Among Expert Picks

MLB Best Bets for Thursday: White Sox vs. Guardians, Pirates vs. Mets, More Among Expert Picks article feature image
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Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: JT Brubaker.

It’s “total Thursday” here at The Action Network. There are eight games on the Major League Baseball slate and our experts have found betting value in three of them — all targeting some form of a total.

We have a play on, of course, a full-game total, but we also have plays on a team total and a first-five innings total.

All that being said, let’s get to the bets.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians
1:10 p.m. ET
Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies
6:40 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Mets
7:20 p.m. ET

Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians

Pick
Under 8.5
Book
BetMGM
Pitchers
Lance Lynn vs. Hunter Gaddis
First Pitch
1:10 p.m. ET

DJ James: The American League Central race has been heating up and Thursday’s matchup between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians is crucial for both teams. Lance Lynn will pitch for the White Sox and Cleveland will call up Hunter Gaddis for a spot start.

Lynn has been steady all year and owns a 4.07 ERA with a 3.67 xERA. He ranks in the top-40% of MLB in Average Exit Velocity and in the 99th percentile in Walk Rate. In the second half, he is about as good as a starter can get with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP.

Gaddis is an above average strikeout pitcher who struggles with control at times. Luckily for him, he is facing a White Sox team that ranks second-to-last in Chase Rate and walks this season. Given that only a few of the Chicago hitters have excelled lately off of righties, Gaddis should not allow too much damage.

Cleveland only has three hitters above a .325 xwOBA off of righties since August 15. They have dinked their way to victory, but most of that is a testament to strong pitching. No one in this lineup has an average exit velocity above 90 mph during that timeframe. Lynn just needs to avoid the big bats in the middle in José Ramírez, Josh Naylor and Oscar González.

In addition to issuing walks, Gaddis also has trouble keeping the ball on the ground. In AA and AAA, his ground-ball rate hovered around 25%. This is not ideal when facing hitters such as Eloy Jiménez and José Abreu. Still, those two and Luis Robert are the only Sox hitters eclipsing a .325 xwOBA.

Even if Gaddis plays as an opener for a couple innings, the Guardians have one of the best bullpens in baseball. They have a 3.28 xFIP with five arms below a 4.00 xFIP.

Neither of these teams hits right-handers very well. They both have a sub-100 wRC+ in the past month. Lynn will look like a savvy veteran and Gaddis might surprise some hitters in the Sox order.

The bullpens also have solid weapons once the starters exit the game. Take the under at 8.5 (-115), and play it to 7.5 (-115).


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Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Pick
Phillies o3.5
Book
PointsBet
Pitchers
Noah Syndergaard vs. Pablo López
First Pitch
6:40 p.m. ET

DJ James: The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the best hitting teams lately against right-handed pitching. In fact, over the past month, the Phillies have a team wRC+ of 117 with a .781 OPS. Noah Syndergaard will get the start against Pablo López and the Miami Marlins.

López has slipped up a bit lately and has a 4.04 ERA with a 4.08 xERA. Most notably, Lopez has a 6.52 ERA in the second half of the season. His Average Exit Velocity and Hard-Hit Rate rank amongst the middle of the pack. Nearly everyone in the Phillies’ lineup has a .300 xwOBA or higher. This at least means they can all put together strong plate appearances.

The Phillies do chase more than average, and that is one of López’s best qualities. If Philadelphia can avoid chasing, the Phillies’ batters will find a way on base.

Lastly, the Marlins have a bullpen xFIP of 4.14, which ranks 21st in baseball. The Phillies will have many scoring opportunities, even when López exits this game. Look for Philadelphia to put up some early runs on the righty, then tack on more as the game progresses.

Take the team total over 3.5 (-140) to 4.5 (-105).


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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Mets

Pick
F5 Under 4.5
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
JT Brubaker vs. Carlos Carrasco
First Pitch
7:20 p.m. ET

Collin Whitchurch: It’s difficult to find underdogs with value at this time of year. So many teams have packed it in for the season are are playing rookies and Quad-A types, just waiting for the offseason. The Pirates are certainly one of those teams, which is why I can’t justify backing one of my favorite underrated pitchers — JT Brubaker — despite what looks like an appealing number.

That’s because the Pittsburgh offense has been so putrid all season long. You may look at the recent stretch of nice results and think there’s some inspired play to be found, but count me as unconvinced because most of it came against a miserable Cincinnati pitching staff.

While I have no confidence in the Pirates’ offense against Carlos Carrasco, I have plenty in Brubaker, who has only two starts since the start of July in which he gave up more than three earned runs — against the Phillies and Braves.

His 4.36 ERA is backed up by a 3.87 xFIP, and he can consistently miss bats while limiting both hard contact and the long ball. All told, I love him to limit the damage against the New York offense while Pittsburgh’s hitters continue to flail away.

I’ll take the first five innings under 4.5 at -120, and would also play under 4 at -110 or better.


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