MLB Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions for Thursday: 4 Best Bets, Including Reds vs. Brewers & Tigers vs. Twins (July 8)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Group hug between Robbie Grossman, from left, Akil Baddoo and Nomar Mazara.
- It was a busy afternoon and there's more in store this evening in Major League Baseball.
- Our staff has eyes on Pirates-Mets, Reds-Brewers and Tigers-Twins tonight.
- Continue reading for our best bets from Thursday's MLB slate.
Our analysts have found angles on three different games from the evening slate with four different bets, including a pair of dueling picks in the Reds-Brewers affair. Here are our staff’s four best bets from Thursday’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Pirates vs. Mets
Editor’s Note: Thursday’s game between the Pirates and Mets has been postponed because of inclement weather.
Mike Ianniello: These two teams rank last in all of baseball in runs this season. The Mets are 29th and the Pirates are 30th. The Metropolitans sit 25th in batting average and 25th in wOBA. The Buccos rank 24th in batting average and 30th in wOBA. These two teams are 28th and 30th in home runs.
Taijuan Walker has been fantastic for New York this season, posting a 7-3 record and 2.44 ERA through 15 starts. He has surrendered two runs or fewer in 12 of his 15 starts. He throws a great fastball, slider and splitter, all allowing a batting average below .200 and wOBA below .275.
JT Brubaker has been the Bucs’ best pitcher this year. He has a 4.09 ERA and .241 batting average against. Brubaker has had a couple bad starts but has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his 15 starts and three or fewer in 12 of them. He mostly throws his sinker and slider to generate a groundball rate of 49%.
Citi Field is one of the best pitching environments in all of baseball. Walker has been brilliant at home, going 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA, allowing just seven runs and one home run in his seven starts in Queens.
The under is 26-10-2 (68.4%) at Citi Field this season and with two weak offenses and two solid pitchers, I’ll play the under 7.5 tonight.
Reds vs. Brewers
Sean Zerillo: I think the betting market has finally caught up to the Brewers’ dominance. Milwaukee is 23-11 and playing at a 110-win pace since June 1, and their expected record (24-10) over that period justifies their performance.
However, they are a different team without Corbin Burnes (1.69 xERA), Brandon Woodruff (2.55 xERA) or Freddy Peralta (2.57 xERA) on the mound. Tuesday’s starter, Adrian Houser (4.66 xERA, 3.94 xFIP, 4.35 SIERA), is a competent rotation arm but remains hardly above average, if at all.
Houser possesses one above-average pitch (a heavy sinker) that he uses more than half of the time, but he’s never found a secondary pitch that can consistently generate outs.
Tyler Mahle (3.35 xERA, 3.52 xFIP, 3.52 SIERA) has taken a significant step forward this season, but he began his transformation in 2020 when he consolidated his arsenal to a three-pitch mix (fastball, slider, splitter) of above-average offerings.
Updated projections place Mahle as a top-20 starting pitcher in the National League for the rest of the 2021 campaign, with a projected FIP range (3.91-4.24) more than a quarter run better than Houser (4.16-4.51).
The full game line looks right to me — the Brewers have a significantly better bullpen — but the first five innings (F5) line should be shaded more towards the Cincinnati side.
I projected the Reds as 58% F5 favorites (implied -139), and I would bet their F5 moneyline to -125.
Reds vs. Brewers
Kenny Ducey: Don’t look now, but the Brewers’ hitters are getting hot. No, I’m not talking about the former MVP they have on their team — Christian Yelich is still lost at the plate. I’m talking about some imposing names like Jace Peterson and Luis Urias.
Only four teams own a better OPS over the last two weeks, and it’s been thanks to a total team effort. Peterson continues to find ways to hang around in the league and hit a rocket homer to dead center off Jacob deGrom on Wednesday to accent what’s been a tremendous two weeks for him. Urias has found his swing, and Willy Adames has really given this team a giant boost since coming over from the Rays.
The offensive momentum here is overwhelming, and it’s more than the Reds can claim. I’m a little scared of backing Adrian Houser considering his struggles this season, but after a brutal outing against the Reds in May he managed to shut them down in June. His peripherals aren’t the best, but he’s been capable of turning in some good starts and should get a lot of run support here. Tyler Mahle has slowly started to tank this year, and should be in for a rude awakening against these hot bats.
Tigers vs. Twins
Tanner McGrath: The Tigers have been the most profitable team in baseball over the past few months. Today, I think they provide value again.
It’s crazy to think Detroit has put together a competent baseball team, but it’s true. The Tigers are 4-1 in their last five contests, 7-3 in their last 10, and 12-8 in their last 20. If you had bet $100 on every single Tigers moneyline since May 1, you would be up a whole lot of money:
Detroit’s season-long numbers are still deflated due to a godawful month of April. Therefore, the Tigers continue to be posted as underdogs despite being a winning baseball team. That’s a winning combination for a baseball bettor.
Tarik Skubal began his sophomore campaign with a disgusting stretch of starts, but has totally turned it around since. While he had a below-average outing against the White Sox last time out, Skubal has been nails over the past month.
In six starts between May 30 and June 27, Skubal posted a 2.60 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP while allowing just a .619 OPS against. Behind a live fastball, Skubal was a strikeout machine in the minors, and he’s finally starting to record punchouts against. During that six-start stretch, Skubal’s been striking out a whopping 11.68 batters per nine.
But, most importantly, the Tigers went 5-1 in those starts. And since Skubal’s overall numbers are still generally bad given his awful beginning of the season, the Tigers were underdogs in each of those contests, even winning three times as underdogs of +150 or higher.
Given his opponents today are J.A. Happ (6.09 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5.65 xERA) and the lowly Twins (35-50 overall, 3-7 in their last 10), Skubal and co. offer excellent value as underdogs (again) here today.
Hammer the Tigers at even money or better. Then maybe consider doing it for the rest of the season, too.