MLB Odds, Expert Picks & Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Nationals vs. Cardinals, Marlins vs. Phillies, More (September 8)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara.
- It's not the busy Thursday of the Major League Baseball season, but there's still plenty of betting opportunities.
- Our experts have found value on a trio of plus-money plays and are targeting a pair of underdogs on today's slate.
- Continue reading for their best bets and analysis.
It's a light Thursday in Major League Baseball, but there are still a few betting opportunities.
We have plays on a pair of underdogs, a runline and a total. So, without any further delay, let's look at Thursday's best bets.
MLB Odds & Picks
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
DJ James: Adam Wainwright has been impressive this season as a 41-year-old. However, he is feasting on good fortune that eventually needs to expire. Overall, he has a 4.26 xERA and 3.21 ERA.
Josiah Gray will throw for the Nationals. He has a 4.91 ERA against a 4.15 xERA. He also has allowed a higher Average Exit Velocity than Waino (88 mph versus 88.2 mph). He has a higher strikeout rate, but may walk a few more hitters than the savvy veteran. That said, based on expected statistics, the difference between these two starting pitchers is negligible.
Now, the Cardinals have been one of the best hitting teams in baseball for some time. They have the highest wRC+ off of righties at 128 in the past month. The Nats are above average, though, at 103. This puts value on Washington with how close the pitching matchup looks in this game.
Gray is not the best starting pitcher, but he is still young and improving. His underlying statistics are far more encouraging than his traditional numbers. In the second half of the season, Gray does carry a 6.19 ERA, but much of this has to do with issuing walks. He just needs to stay in the strike zone to keep the Cardinals hitters at bay.
The Cardinals rank in the middle of the pack with Chase Rate, so he will get some swings and misses. Gray does throw his slider and curveball 53.6% of the time, compared to his fastball at 41.5%.
This should at least limit the damage somewhat with a tougher lineup. Five hitters still carry a .330+ xwOBA off of those off-speed pitches, but a higher off-speed usage will definitely benefit the young starter.
Wainwright may be impressive for an older pitcher, but he is still overrated. Having an xERA more than a point higher than his actual ERA proves the luck will run out at one point or another. The Nationals have five hitters with a .325+ xwOBA off of right-handers in the past month.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs
Tony Sartori: We have the third and final game of this NL Central showdown with the Chicago Cubs hosting the Cincinnati Reds.
Taking the mound for Cincinnati is right-hander Luis Cessa, who is making his fourth consecutive start since rejoining the rotation. He allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his past three starts and the under hit in each game — a trend I expect to continue in this matchup.
Across 29 career plate appearances against Cessa, this current Cubs roster possesses a mere .208 BA, .333 SLG and a .312 wOBA. Following the right-hander is a competent bullpen that ranks in the top-half of the league in ERA, SLG and FIP since the beginning of August.
However, this pitching staff may not get much run support as the Reds are slated to go against right-hander Adrian Sampson. Through 15 appearances this season, Sampson possesses a 3.95 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Across three career starts against Cincinnati, Sampson has posted a 3.46 ERA.
Since August 1, the Reds rank just 19th in the league in BA, 23rd in SLG, 21st in OPS and 20th in wOBA when facing right-handed pitchers. Neither of these offenses are explosive and although the two starting pitchers are not the best, they should be good enough to limit the scoring.
San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Jules Posner: The San Francisco Giants are bullpenning Game 1 of their double-header against the Milwaukee Brewers and guess what? The Giants' bullpen is bad.
Corbin Burnes gets the ball for the Brewers and although he hasn't been as dominant at home this season as he was last season, the Giants' offense hasn't been as good against right handers as it was last season.
This seems like a great situation for Burnes to get back on track following three pretty bad starts. In fact, this has been the worst stretch of his career as a starter. Over his past three starts, he's given up three or more earned runs in each — a 7.29 ERA.
On the other side, the Giants' offense has been the worst offense in the league on the road against right handers over the past two weeks. The Giants' bullpen has also struggled this season. Pair that with their 28-38 road record and the Giants' hopes are looking fairly slim in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins
DJ James: Sandy Alcántara could very well be the National League Cy Young Award winner this season, even though the Miami Marlins have struggled providing run support. He will face Kyle Gibson and the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday evening.
Gibson has been serviceable with a 4.48 ERA and a 4.21 xERA. This does not compare to Alcántara’s 2.36 ERA and 2.97 xERA. Alcántara ranks in the 58th percentile in Average Exit Velocity while throwing fastballs around 98 mph.
Philadelphia has a team wRC+ of 95 off of right-handed pitching in the past month. Miami comes in at 73, but this is deceiving. Since Gibson is about league average, Miami can find a way on base.
The Marlins have five hitters with a .320+ xwOBA off of righties in the past month. This should be more than enough against a pitcher with a 4.78 ERA in the second half of the season.
Backing Alcántara against a team who has had trouble with righties of late is the correct call in this game. Miami has just enough offense to get the job done and Alcántara usually pitches deep into games.