MLB Best Bets Today | Odds, Picks for Red Sox vs Astros, Reds vs Diamondbacks, More (Thursday, August 24)
Pictured: Merrill Kelly. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
There's a small, nine-game MLB slate today, but there's still plenty of betting value on the board.
Our MLB betting experts have looked over the schedule and identified today's best baseball bets. They've honed in on a pair of moneylines, as well as a first-five innings run line.
The bets include Red Sox vs. Astros, Rangers vs. Twins and Reds vs. Diamondbacks, so continue reading as the MLB best bets for Thursday, August 24 are below.
Thursday's MLB Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our MLB betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
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Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our MLB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Red Sox vs. Astros
The Red Sox feature a deep, grinding lineup that hits right-handed pitching hard.
Unfortunately, the team is hamstrung by a historically bad defense.
The Red Sox aren’t just bad at fielding. They’re horrific.
Boston has accumulated -54 Outs Above Average (OAA) this year. That’s 31 runs worse than any other team in baseball. The worst defensive team of the Statcast era is the 2017 Mets, who finished 70-92 with -58 OAA. The Sox are on pace to beat that mark handily.
On the mound, Brayan Bello has an uncanny ability to force whiffs and strikeouts.
His sinker forces ground balls (69%) and his changeup forces swinging strikes (24%). He uses his four-seam fastball and slider to keep platoons honest, and it’s been working for him.
He’s had his ups and downs this year, but Bello has also shown flashes of ace potential.
The Astros are trending up.
Everyone is healthy, and they added Justin Verlander at the deadline. The result has been a 22-14 record with a +40 run differential in the second half.
The lineup has been driving this recent success. Over the past two weeks, Houston ranks:
Fourth in OPS (.853)
Fourth in wRC+ (136)
Fourth in wOBA (.369)
First in strikeout rate (18%)
Fifth in walk rate (10%)
First in zone-contact rate (89%)
J.P. France has also been holding it down for the Astros. The rookie right-hander has a 2.75 ERA over 17 starts and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since June 16 (Houston is 8-3 in those games).
Unfortunately, his underlying statistical profile indicates regression.
France pairs his low ERA with a 4.39 xERA because he allows too much hard contact and doesn’t induce enough ground balls.
He has one of the highest-spinning fastballs in the Majors but doesn’t force enough swinging strikes (28th percentile in Whiff rate and fifth percentile in Chase rate).
France has a five-pitch arsenal that moves in all kinds of ways, so he ranks pretty high in Stuff+ (104 across his arsenal). His ceiling is high, but for the time being, I find him a tad overvalued.
The Houston lineup has been awesome recently, but they’ve been mediocre against Bello’s arsenal. Since July 1, the Astros boast the fourth-lowest team OPS against right-handed sinkers and changeups (.666).
Meanwhile, France is due for regression, and I think Boston’s grinding lineup can force that.
Rangers vs. Twins
By D.J. James
Pablo López has impressed this season and that's continued into the second half. He ranks in the 76th percentile in Average Exit Velocity and the 66th percentile in Hard-Hit Rate. In the second half he has a 2.53 ERA, compared to a 3.89 ERA in the first half. His walk rate is 6.2% and his strikeout rate is nearly 30%.
On Thursday, he will face Andrew Heaney and the Texas Rangers. Heaney has been a reliable back-end-of-the-rotation arm, but he has been nowhere near as productive as López. Heaney ranks in the 16th percentile in Average Exit Velocity and the 58th percentile in Hard-Hit Rate. His walk rate is 9.5% and his strikeout rate is 24.1%. López clearly has an edge in each metric.
Offensively, the Twins have hammered lefties this month. Minnesota owns an .810 OPS and a 122 wRC+ off of southpaws in August. They have a 7.8% walk rate, too.
The Rangers are shockingly worse than the Twins this month at hitting right-handers. Texas has a .763 OPS and a 108 wRC+ this month off of right-handers, which gives the Twins another edge in this contest.
Finally, the Twins have a 4.60 xFIP in relief this month. Texas has a 4.18 xFIP in relief, so the bullpens are basically a wash, especially with Heaney walking more than López this season.
Reds vs. Diamondbacks
By Kevin Rogers
The Reds continue their West Coast swing with a four-game trip to Arizona on Thursday. This will be a crucial series for both sides as they're in a tight battle for an NL Wild Card berth.
The Reds swept the D-backs last month, but Arizona is playing better now and just won a pair of games against Texas.
Merrill Kelly hasn’t had much good fortune at home in the first five innings recently, with Arizona posting an 0-3-1 mark in his past four starts at Chase Field.
To make matters worse, the D-backs’ offense has provided Kelly with no runs in the first five innings of those defeats.
Brandon Williamson, who tossed six innings of three-hit ball and allowed just one run the last time he faced Arizona (July 22), will start for the Reds.
The D-backs own a 6-1-2 mark in the first five innings in the past nine games, with the two pushes being scoreless ties.
Let’s back Arizona at -0.5 in the first five innings (-118 at FanDuel) and play that to -120.