MLB Odds, Expert Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s Slate, Featuring Giants vs. Brewers, Yankees vs. Reds

MLB Odds, Expert Picks: How to Bet Thursday’s Slate, Featuring Giants vs. Brewers, Yankees vs. Reds article feature image

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Carlos Rodon.

  • Thursday's MLB slate features 13 games and a number of bets available across the board.
  • Our Anthony Dabbundo broke down five games and dished out seven bets for Thursday, including Reds vs. Yankees, Mets vs. Cubs and Brewers vs. Giants.
  • Check out all seven of Dabbundo's top bets for Thursday's MLB games below.

Twenty-six of 30 teams in Major League Baseball take the field Thursday in a loaded 13-game slate.

There are two day games beginning at 12:10 p.m. ET as the Pirates visit the Marlins, but 11 of the games on the Thursday card begin after 7:10 p.m. ET

You can find my colleague Sean Zerillo’s projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you can bookmark).

Here are some of my favorite angles and games I’m targeting across Thursday's evening MLB card.

Follow all of Anthony Dabbundo’s bets in the Action Network app! Click here.

Reds at Yankees

Luis Castillo vs. Nestor Cortes Jr. · 7:10 p.m. ET

The Reds and Yankees have played consecutive thrilling games after the Reds won, 4-3, on Tuesday after a four-run ninth, and the Yankees won on Wednesday on a walk-off wild pitch in the 10th inning.

They'll decide the series winner with a rubber match Thursday.

Luis Castillo has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the calendar turned to June. This is a common trend for Castillo, who has a career 4.60 ERA in April and May but a 3.48 ERA in June and a 2.80 in July.

Castillo has allowed two runs and struck out 25 batters in his last three starts, a combined 20 innings pitched. His Stuff+ — a measure of the velocity and shapes of pitches — rose more in June than any other starting pitcher in MLB, according to Eno Sarris of The Athletic's model.

Castillo's improved success and stuff has come with the return of his fastball velocity, which had dipped considerably at the beginning of the season. As it has trended back up, he's become more and more effective.

Photo Credit: FanGraphs

So, while you could argue that Castillo is due for a bit of regression as a pitcher, his recent samples in the last six weeks suggest he's pitching as a true ace.

The same cannot be said for Nestor Cortes Jr., who has run into home run issues in the last month.

Cortes has a very respectable 2.74 ERA, but his hard-hit rates, barrel rates and xFIP has been trending up considerably in the last month. The rest of season projection systems suggested he'd never be able to maintain his HR/9 below 1.0, and now he's risen from 0.8 up to 1.3 in recent starts.

The Yankees are just about overvalued every single night at this point. I think you're getting a good price to buy Castillo, who is clearly trending up, against Cortes, who is clearly trending down in recent starts.

The Reds have the better starting pitcher, and the lineup has quietly been league average if you take away a historically bad April.

I'm willing to bet them on both the first five innings and full game moneylines.

Recommended Bets

  • Reds First Five Innings (+140 or better)
  • Reds ML (+165 or better)
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Tigers at Guardians

Elvin Rodriguez vs. Triston McKenzie · 7:10 p.m. ET

Elvin Rodriguez made news for all of the wrong reasons when he had a terrible start against the Yankees in June. It was later discovered in a Jomboy breakdown that the rookie right-hander was tipping his pitches.

Once the Yankees discovered that, they teed off on him. Rodriguez conceded 10 runs to the Bronx Bombers that night and eight to Toronto in his next start. But the Guardians are not near the quality of those two lineups.

Rodriguez actually threw four shutout innings against the Guardians in May and has shown some solid swing-and-miss stuff when he's not tipping pitches or getting barreled up heavily.

His Stuff+ and Location+ numbers are only marginally below average, and there's reason to believe Rodriguez can be a 4.50 ERA-type pitcher going forward (as long as he's not tipping pitches).

If Rodriguez can just be serviceable and get to the Tigers' bullpen, Detroit is third-best in both FIP and ERA amongst relievers. It's a bit inflated when you consider K-BB%. That should keep this game pretty close and creates some value on the Tigers as big underdogs here.

I'm also strongly looking to bet against Triston McKenzie, as I wrote in my MLB Bettor's Notebook on Monday:

"Among qualified MLB pitchers, no pitcher has allowed a harder average exit velocity than Triston McKenzie. McKenzie has the third-highest barrel rate allowed amongst qualified starters, his FIP is 4.56 and his xFIP is 4.37. Both are a full run or more higher than his ERA, and his xERA sits at 4.55 too. He has slightly below average stuff with a 98 Stuff+ and rates out slightly above average when you consider his 102 Pitching+."

McKenzie has average stuff and isn't producing good results from that.

Detroit's lineup is bad, but it has shown some signs of life lately, as Riley Greene joined the team and Javy Baez is finally producing in the middle of the order.

McKenzie isn't nearly good enough to be this big of a favorite, and thus, I will fade accordingly. The Guardians' lineup doesn't have the kind of pop that Toronto or New York did when they hammered Rodriguez.

Recommended Bet

  • Tigers ML (+185 or better)

Mets at Cubs

Carlos Carrasco vs. Keegan Thompson · 8:05 p.m. ET

It's been a rough week for the Cubs, who blew three straight leads to the Dodgers last weekend and then got swept in Baltimore in a two-game series.

Chicago may be one of the worst teams in the National League, but there are some very encouraging signs from Thursday starter Keegan Thompson.

Thompson has a very respectable 15.5% K-BB% that ranks inside the top 60 of MLB starters. His ERA is a bit flattering at 3.04, but the market has consistently not priced him as a pitcher that should have a 3.50 ERA or so.

His FIP and xERA both suggest he's better than Mets starter Carlos Carrasco. His increased slider usage has also helped him generate more swings and misses.

Thompson has a 101 Stuff+, per Sarris, and his stuff grades out considerably better than Carrasco (91).

Carrasco has been a bit unfortunate this season given his peripherals and improved K-BB%, but he's also projected to have continued home run issues.

This could be especially a problem for him outside of the pitcher-friendly Citi Field on Thursday. Carrasco has allowed just 1.04 HR/9 this season, but the rest of season projections suggest he'll be around 1.25 per 9.

Carrasco has a 4.03 xERA, and thus, Thompson is the marginally better starter in this game. You're getting a cheaper price on the Cubs because of the recent losing streak, but the Cubs bullpen continues to be underrated as it ranks in the top 5 in K-BB% despite mediocre overall numbers.

This game should be closer to a pick'em given the pitching matchup.

Recommended Bet

  • Cubs ML (+110 or better)

Mariners at Rangers

Marco Gonzales vs. Martin Pérez · 8:10 p.m. ET

Gonzales and Pérez have been two of the best pitch-to-contact success stories of the 2022 season, but the regression is coming for both in the coming weeks and months.

Perez already ran into major trouble in his last start against Minnesota, and Gonzales is one of the biggest negative regression candidates in the entire sport.

Seattle and Texas both have underrated bullpens that project as elite and above-average units, respectively, but both starting pitchers should have issues on Thursday night.

Gonzales boasts an impressive 3.02 ERA, but his xERA comes in at 4.63. His 4.2% K-BB% is one of the worst in all of baseball, and he's mostly managed to avoid barrels and hard-hit rates. But I'm skeptical of that continuing long term.

Pérez's 2022 success is a bit more sustainable because it's not entirely BABIP-driven. Perez has legitimately improved his strikeout and walk numbers and also avoided barrels. But Pérez has had good starts to a season before, only to fall off in the second half.

All projections systems have Pérez pitching to a 4.10-4.40 ERA for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Both lineups are also in preferred handedness splits on Thursday. Texas ranks third in MLB against left-handed pitching, while Seattle is 10th in wRC+ against southpaws.

That's enough for me to bet the first five innings over at 4.5 and avoid a potential bullpen shutdown late.

And because of Texas' impressive splits against left-handed pitching, I'm selling high on Seattle and backing the Rangers at home.

Recommended Bets

  • Rangers ML (-120 or better)
  • First Five Innings Over 4.5 (-115 or better)

Brewers at Giants

Corbin Burnes vs. Carlos Rodón · 9:45 p.m. ET

The matchup of the day is the final game of the night, as two of the Cy Young favorites in the National League face off in San Francisco.

Here are the top three in K-BB% amongst starters in the NL:

  1. Corbin Burnes, 26.1%
  2. Aaron Nola, 24.4%
  3. Carlos Rodón, 23.0%

There's not much negative to say about either pitcher in this matchup. Both are elite, and both have an xERA below 2.70.

Rodón did have a brief dip in his velocity, but it certainly did not impact him when he threw nine innings and allowed one run to San Diego in his last start.

The handedness splits and bullpen usage, though, do favor the Giants in this game. Milwaukee has used top relievers Devin Williams and Josh Hader heavily in the last two days, which could limit their usage and effectiveness on Thursday behind Burnes.

The Brewers also are 23rd in wRC+ this season against left-handed pitching, in part because of lefty bats Rowdy Tellez and Christian Yelich being better against righties.

San Francisco has been better against lefties too, but the Giants are still above average against right-handed pitching (13th in wRC+). Given that they're at home and there's not much difference between the two starting pitchers, I'm not quite sure why this is lined as a tossup.

The Giants should be a modest favorite with an elite pitcher and a more rested bullpen. Add in that the Giants lineup projects better on Thursday given handedness splits, and I'd bet the Giants at -110 or better.

Recommended Bet

  • Giants ML (-110 or better)

Anthony Dabbundo’s MLB Bets (July 14)

  • Reds First Five Innings (+140 or better)
  • Reds ML (+165 or better)
  • Tigers ML (+185 or better)
  • Rangers ML (-120 or better)
  • Mariners vs. Rangers First Five Innings Over 4.5 (-115 or better)
  • Cubs ML (+110 or better)
  • Giants ML (-110 or better)
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