MLB Odds & Picks: Our 5 Best Bets for Thursday, Including Cubs vs. Giants, Mets vs. Padres & More (June 3)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Taijuan Walker talks to his catcher, Tomas Nido.
- Tigers-White Sox, Cubs-Giants and Mets-Padres highlight our best bets for Thursday.
- Find out below how our experts are playing those three games tonight.
A trio of intriguing series get started on Thursday, including one division rivalry between a contender and a cellar-dweller, another battle of surprising first place teams, and one more between two legitimate contenders in different divisions.
Below, you’ll find our staff’s best bets for Thursday, with picks on Tigers-White Sox, Cubs-Giants and Mets-Padres.
MLB Odds & Picks
Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox
Matt Trebby: Lance Lynn’s 1.20 ERA is both extremely impressive and extremely unsustainable.
The veteran right-hander has been everything the White Sox could have hoped for when they traded for him during the offseason. He is an inning-eating machine who has allowed two earned runs in his last five starts, spanning 28 innings.
The main metrics that are playing to Lynn’s favor this season are his home runs allowed per nine innings (down from 1.39 in 2020 to 0.68 this year) and BABIP against (.222 this season). His xFIP is 3.98, which indicates some of the battled balls he’s allowing are going to start finding holes.
He’ll start opposite former No. 1 pick Casey Mize, who has also thrived through the first two months of the regular season. Mize registered a 1.74 ERA through five May starts (31 innings) and has a 2.61 ERA on the road this season.
The Tigers’ lineup has ranked in the middle of the pack over the past two weeks instead of the bottom of the league. Couple that with Detroit coming in having won four of its last five, and the number on Mize & Co. is way too high here.
The highest number on Detroit is +180 as of early Thursday afternoon. Keep an eye on our odds page to make sure you get the best number possible before first pitch.
Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox
Mike Ianniello: It is always scary betting an under in a Chicago White Sox game. They rank second in the league in wOBA and are capable of going over the total by themselves on any given night. But Casey Mize is finally living up to his No. 1 overall pick draft selection and is capable of keeping this lineup in check.
After a slow start last year, and a 5.06 ERA during the month of April, everything seems to be clicking for Mize now. In five starts during the month of May, Mize posted a 1.74 ERA and allowed just one earned run in four of his five starts, and six runs total all month. His most recent performance was out-pitching Gerrit Cole, leaving with a 1-1 tie and fewer hits allowed and more strikeouts than the Yankees ace.
The 24-year old Mize will face the 34-year old Lance Lynn. Lynn has been absolutely brilliant for the White Sox this season. He has a 6-1 record and 1.20 ERA over nine starts this year, which trails on Jacob deGrom for the best in baseball.
Teams have just a .188 xBA and .255 xwOBA against Lynn, both ranking in the top 10% of the league. He has allowed just four home runs all season and Detroit ranks just 25th in home runs this season. The Tigers’ lineup is one of the worst in the league and Lynn should have no problem shutting them down here.
The under is 9-1 in Mize’s starts this season and 6-3 in Lynn’s starts. I like these pitchers to keep the ball in the park and keep this total under 8.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants
Kenny Ducey: Zach Davies just continues to defy the odds. Despite every ERA estimator in the book saying he’s due for regression, he just continues to pitch his way out of trouble.
The thing is, Davies’ strand rate isn’t even at his career average, it sits at a very normal 73%. It’s not as if he’s been loading up the bases, though his walk rate is hovering around 12%, he’s just been fortunate given the amount of good contact he’s allowed.
Again, though, there might be more to this. Davies’ ground ball rate is up this year to 45.5%, which is higher than it’s been in years. Sure, his hard-hit rate sits at 40.9%, but with an average launch angle of 8.8 degrees, most of those hard-hit balls are going into the dirt. That’s where the Cubs’ superb infield defense comes into play, which is probably another reason why Davies has been able to get through so many tough lineups.
There’s a saying in betting that you can only be stubborn for so long when it’s costing you money. I’ve been fading Davies off of his peripherals all season long to negative results, and it’s time to recognize that he might just be a great groundball pitcher who has a great defense backing him up. Not only that, the Cubs’ offense is red-hot. I love taking Chicago as the underdog here on the arm of Davies.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants
DJ James: The Chicago Cubs are riding a hot streak of 12 wins in their last 13 games. The San Francisco Giants still rank first in the National League West and wish to improve upon their lead of only one game over the San Diego Padres. Anthony DeSclafani takes the hill against Zach Davies, possibly the Cubs’ worst starting pitcher. Davies has abysmal peripherals. He ranks in the third percentile for xwOBA and xERA and in the first percentile in xBA. Essentially, hitters are having a field day with him and his ERA should be much worse.
DeSclafani allows some hard hit balls but does not have the same issues as Davies. In fact, his statistics are mainly inflated by one terrible starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he allowed 10 runs. Outside of that, he has been rock solid, and I expect the same tonight against the Cubs.
The Cubs definitely have the advantage when it comes to relievers with a combined 3.71 xFIP, but given how their combined ERA is 2.64, they are overachieving at the moment. The Giants are subpar and even have had good luck with their 3.94 combined ERA and 4.43 xFIP.
When it comes to batting orders, both of these teams are about league average against right-handed pitching. Given the wide difference in starter talent in this one, the right play is the Giants. DeSclafani can throw six or seven innings and they can hand the lead to Tyler Rogers and company to shut the door on the Cubs.
New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres
Collin Whitchurch: Taijuan Walker has been basically the one source of joy for the Mets this season. That seems strange to say about a first-place team, but for a squad ravaged by injuries and inconsistency from their actual big-ticket offseason acquisition, Walker has been as steady as they come.
While his 2.62 FIP is respectable, it’s obviously a far cry from his 1.84 ERA, and his DRA of 3.96 actually anticipates an even bigger step back eventually. And while Walker has been missing bats at a career-best rate, his walks haven’t really changed, and he’s experienced an insane amount of home run luck thus far.
This play is less about Walker, though, and more with the New York bullpen. It’s been lights-out lately, but also had to cover 26 outs just one day ago when David Peterson was knocked out by the Diamondbacks after just one-third of an inning.
I love this pitching matchup of Walker against Yu Darvish, but the total of 6.5 is too low for me to make a play. Given Walker’s possibility for regression and New York’s exhausted bullpen, I like the Padres’ team total over 3.5 at -117 and I would bet it to -125.