MLB Expert Predictions for Thursday: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Bets, Including Twins-White Sox

MLB Expert Predictions for Thursday: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Bets, Including Twins-White Sox article feature image

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: American League pitcher Lucas Giolito (27) of the Chicago White Sox.

  • Our experts give out their favorite plays for Wednesday's MLB slate, including Yankees vs. Red Sox and Twins vs. White Sox.

Evan Abrams: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Masahiro Tanaka (7-5, 4.00 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (8-7, 5.61 ERA)

  • Yankees Moneyline: -115
  • Red Sox Moneyline: +105
  • Over/Under: 11.5
  • First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

Here are the results of the Red Sox and Yankees last three meetings:

June 2: Red Sox 8-5 (13 runs)
June 29: Yankees 17-13 (30 runs)
June 30: Yankees 12-8 (20 runs)

Granted two of those games were played in the friendly confines of London, England, but these two teams have shown some fireworks as of late. On Thursday, Rick Porcello takes the mound against Masahiro Tanaka and neither starter has exactly been lights out against their rivals. Tanaka holds a 4.82 ERA in his career against the Sox and Porcello owns a 3.56 ERA, allowing 11 earned in his last two starts against New York.

But tonight, I am going to focus on Edwin Encarnacion. He has been on fire as of late, going 6-of-14 in his last three games and 8-of-23 (.348) in his last five games, with four extra-base hits. Last night against the Twins, he hit his 30th homer of the season.

In Encarnacion’s career against Porcello, he is 14-of-47 (.298) with nine extra-base hits, 11 RBI’s and three home runs. 21 different batters have at least 45 at bats in their careers against Porcello, Encarnacion’s .617 slugging against him is the fourth-highest of any opposing batter.

I’ll throw some change on Edwin potentially carrying the parrot tonight and having a few hits.

THE PICK: Encarnacion hit a HR (+250) 

Josh Appelbaum: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

The greatest rivalry in sports renews tonight at Fenway Park. With a short slate to begin with, this Yankees-Red Sox showdown will be the marquee game of the night by far. And, of course, Pros and Joes will be sweating opposite sides.

New York has a 10-game advantage over Boston in the win column, an edge in the starting pitcher department and sits at a juicy low-favorite price. Yankees all day, right?

This game opened with the Bronx Bombers listed as a -128 road favorite and the Sox as a +118 dog. However, despite 70% of bets backing the Yanks, the line has fallen away from New York (-128 to -115) and toward Boston (+118 to +105).

This is a classic case of sharp reverse line movement, with wiseguys getting down hard on the Sox. The influx of smart Boston money created big liability for the house, forcing bookmakers to adjust the line in favor of the Red Sox despite the lopsided public Yankee betting.

We’ve tracked three steam and reverse line moves on Boston coming at +119, +112 and +107 across the market. We haven’t seen a single conflicting Yankee move (or buyback), which means their support is almost entirely public.

The Sox are also in a prime contrarian spot, as they’re only receiving 30% of bets in by far the most heavily bet game of the night. They’re also a divisional dog with a high total (11.5), a profitable spot since 2005 according to our Bet Labs data. Divisional dogs bark louder due to the built in familiarity (they face off 19 times each year) and high totals benefit dogs as more expected runs scored leads to variance and levels the playing field.

According to Bet Labs, short home divisional dogs (+105 to +115) with reverse line movement have gone 289-277 (51.1%), winning +39.23 units (6.9% ROI) since 2005.

Even better, divisional dogs receiving less than 35% of bets with at least 5 cents of RLM have gone 1,171-1.484 (44.1%), winning a whopping +117.54 units since 2005.

THE PICK: Red Sox +109

Sean Zerillo: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

José Berrios (8-5, 2.96 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (11-4, 3.12 ERA)

  • Twins Moneyline: -142
  • White Sox Moneyline: 132
  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • First pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

The Action Network projects 6.9 strikeouts for Lucas Giolito tonight, and oddsmakers have set the over/under at 6.5.

Giolito last faced Minnesota on June 30, tossing five shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out four batters before the game went into a lengthy rain delay. He was removed after just 68 pitches.

Giolito struck out 25% of the batters that he faced on the night, and he has a 29.6% strikeout rate on the season, while facing an average of 23.7 batters per game.

If Giolito holds to those season averages, he should strike out 7.01 batters tonight, but the Twins are one of the more difficult offenses to strikeout in baseball, ranking fourth with a 20.2% team strikeout rate (20.7% vs. righties).

Giolito’s 2019 strikeout rate is 7% higher than the average offense that he has faced (22.6%) in his 19 starts.

He’s succeeded against good teams, with his strikeout rate holding at 27.8% in eight starts against the Astros, Indians, Red Sox, Twins, and Yankees, 6.6% higher than the expected strikeout rate for those starts.

Provided that Giolito can face 25 batters or more — which he’s done in 11 of 19 starts and likely would have done last time against the Twins absent the weather delay — I would personally project his strikeout rate at 27.7% tonight; putting him at 6.92 strikeouts with a strong shot to get seven.

THE PICK: Lucas Giolito Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-108)

John Ewing: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

A majority of tickets are almost always on the over in baseball – it is just more fun to cheer for runs to be scored. Knowing this we can identify unders that sharp bettors are on.

If a game is receiving a majority of tickets on the over but there is more money on the under than bets this can be an indication of smart money. Since 2016, when we began tracking dollar percentages, it has been profitable to follow this betting system that highlights sharp money unders:

Twins-White Sox are currently a match for this system. Berrios’ 2.96 ERA is the 9th best among qualified starters and Giolito’s 3.12 ERA is 13th. Both of these pitchers are capable of shutting down a lineup, which makes this under even more appealing.

THE PICK: Under 8.5

Danny Donahue: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

The public generally tends to flock toward teams with good records, which is understandable. From the most basic standpoint, it makes sense to want to bet on the team that’s more likely to win. But let’s be honest, you aren’t outsmarting anyone by taking the best teams in the league on a nightly basis. If you were, sportsbooks would go bankrupt pretty darn quick.

Instead, it’s actually been profitable — no matter how uncomfortable — to bet against the popular, elite teams in baseball. Simply fading teams at .600 or better getting more than 65% of bets would have put you up 116.7 units since 2005. With all the games in that sample, though, the ROI comes out to a measly 2.8%.

To get that return up, it helps to focus on the second half of the season (when sportsbooks can take advantage of the public expecting the best teams to continue at an unrealistic pace) as well as underdogs in divisional games.

Since ’05, divisional dogs getting less than 35% of bets against .600 opponents in the second half have gone 293-353, but have won 120.1 units (18.6% ROI).

THE PICK: White Sox +132

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