MLB Betting Odds & Picks: Our Experts’ Favorite Bets on Yankees vs. Orioles, Twins vs. Indians, More
Photo credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge
For our MLB crew, Thursday’s slate was apparently made for betting totals.
As we’ve broken down several games on the slightly light 10-game docket, we’ve also been picking out our favorite spots of the bunch, and all four of our experts are putting their “top play” label on an over/under.
Let’s take a look, starting with Stuckey’s take on an early-evening NL Central matchup.
Odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET.
Stuckey: Cubs vs. Reds Under 9 (-125)
It’s never fun betting an under at Great American Ball Park with two capable offenses, especially now that the Reds have Moose and Senzel back, but I show some edge here.
Yu Darvish didn’t have the best stat line in his first start but he got a bit unlucky in that game. Overall, I’m very high on him this season after what I saw from a control perspective after the All-Star break last season, where he had a 2.76 ERA — almost half of his pre-ASB ERA of 5.01. For what it’s worth, current Reds hitters have a combined .237 average against Darvish.
If you don’t know about Castillo yet, you should check him out ASAP. He features one of the most lethal changeups in baseball and looked spectacular in his first start.
You can expect plenty of strikeouts on both sides in this game. Each pitcher can wiggle out of jams with the best of ’em if they lose their control momentarily.
And after a blowout last night, all of the best relief options for both clubs can give it a go tonight. That’s especially important for the Cubs, who really lack bullpen depth.
I prefer the juiced 9 at -125 over 8.5 at plus-money. That half-run is an even more valuable buy with the new extra-innings rule. Let’s hope we don’t have to sweat a 3-3 game headed into the 10th. I apologize for the jinx.
Danny Donahue: Yankees vs. Orioles Over 10.5 (-107)
From the simplest possible standpoint, when we bet on totals in sports, we’re answering the question of how many points/runs/goals will be scored over the course of the game. And in most sports, we know exactly how long the game will be. Even in baseball, while time isn’t the measuring stick, we assume we’re estimating how many runs will be scored over nine innings.
Problem is, games aren’t always nine innings. Sometimes — actually quite often — they’re only eight and a half. And there are plenty of games in which we can have a pretty good idea that that’s going to be the case (when the home team is a heavy favorite).
As it turns out, you can make a solid betting system based on that simple theory. Since 2005, unders in games where the home team is listed -300 or higher, and the total is no more than 8.5 and not rising, have gone 67-44-1.
The exact opposite strategy also works, bringing us tonight’s pick. In games where the home team is +200 or greater (like tonight’s Orioles), and the total is no less than 8 and not falling, the over has gone 94-67-7 over the same span.
BJ Cunningham: Indians vs. Twins Over 8.5 (-114)
First place in the American League Central is on the line Thursday as the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins send their aces to the mound.
Shane Bieber was electric in his first start of the season, going six innings and sitting down 14 batters.
His fastball is a little above average, it has average velocity and he does a good job with location, but it’s not elite by any means. His slider and curveball are a different story. Both pitches produced more than a 40% whiff rate in 2019 and opponents hit a measly .209 against them.
It’s tough to get through the Twins lineup with fastballs, sliders and curveballs. It finished first in weighted fastball runs (also written as wFB, and measures how well did a team/player fared against a fastball), second in weighted curveball runs (wCT) and third weighted slider runs (wSL).
Bieber may have elite stuff, but he’ll have a big challenge against the Twins lineup.
Berrios wasn’t very sharp in his first outing against the White Sox, allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings of work. He surprisingly threw his sinker most frequently and went away from his fastball early. Berrios does a great job interchanging all of his pitches, but he has trouble with control, as he hangs too many pitches (7.5% meatball rate). However, Berrios also has some nasty stuff and it sometimes looks like he’s throwing a Wiffle Ball out there.
Despite the heavyweight pitching matchup, I have 9.95 runs projected for this game. So, I am going to back the Over 8.5 at -114 and would bet it all the way up to -122.
Collin Wilson: Rays-Braves Under 8.5 (+100)
Two southpaws — Max Fried for the Braves and Ryan Yarbrough for the Rays — hit the mound tonight. Yarbrough had a clean opener, allowing just four hits and a walk through 5.1 innings against Toronto. His ability to get out of jams kept runs from crossing the plate, but did leave him with a high xFIP.
The Braves have been atrocious against left-handed pitching in a limited number of at bats in 2020. In 55 plate appearances, Atlanta ranks second in strikeout percentage at 36.4% and in the bottom five of all MLB in wRC+ and wOBA.
Fried loves to pitch in Atlanta, ranking eighth of all pitchers in 2019 in xFIP at home with a minimum of 75 innings pitched. He also ranked 11th in home runs per 9 innings in SunTrust during 2019, with plenty of other splits that favor his home environment.
There is not a ton of value on the under with Sean Zerillo’s projection at 8.44, but the southpaw splits still dictate a small investment on the total.