MLB Odds & Best Bets: Our Top 3 Picks Including Angels vs. Rays & Nationals vs. Braves (Thursday, May 6)
Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrew Heaney
- Thursday's MLB slate is smaller with 10 games spread out throughout the day.
- We've already seen a lot of action this afternoon with more coming up.
- Below, you'll find our staff's best bets from Thursday's MLB schedule.
There are just 10 games on the MLB slate for Thursday as it’s a travel day for a good number of teams, and while most of the games take place this afternoon — including Yankees-Astros and Brewers-Phillies — there are some solid matchups throughout the day.
Our analysts have found bets to recommend in each time slot, with a pick in the early afternoon, one in the late afternoon and a third in from the late-night, west coast slate. Included are a first five moneyline, total, and full-game moneyline. Below, you’ll find our staff’s best bets for Thursday’s MLB action.
MLB Odds & Picks
Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees
Kenny Ducey: It bears repeating: The Yankees’ offense is back. Over the past two weeks, no one has a higher wRC+ than the Bombers, and to no surprise given that number, no one has hit more home runs. This team has seemed in the mood lately against their biggest rivals, and against a so-so version of Lance McCullers Jr., the Yankees should score some more runs here to back Gerrit Cole.
McCullers has good numbers in his career against the Yankees, but in those games he wasn’t pitching like he has this season. His hard-hit rate has ballooned to 45.2%, and his walk rate is all the way up to an unsightly 12.7%. Against a team that boasts so many hitters who make quality contact, and has walks at the highest rate in the league at 11.9%, this could be an unsavory matchup for the righty.
Cole will be facing his former team for the first time, which makes for an unpredictable matchup, but given how good he’s been this season I’m willing to believe he will keep the Astros off the board for most of the first five innings, if not all of them. His strikeout rate has never been higher at 44.3%, which is a bad matchup for a team that relies so heavily on contact. He will miss plenty of bats, and with his minuscule walk rate, he should suffocate a team that does not walk much at all. I’m not sure how the Astros get baserunners here, and conversely am very confident in an awakened Yankees offense.
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Brad Cunningham: Boy, oh boy, is this one going to be a slugfest with these two starting pitchers on the mound. Drew Smyly’s career in Atlanta has not gotten off to the greatest of starts as the left-hander is struggling through his first four starts with an xERA of 7.12 and an xFIP of 5.42. His biggest issue? He can’t keep the ball in the yard, as he’s already given up nine home runs in only 19 innings pitched. Now he’ll be facing one of the best lineups in baseball against left-handed pitching. The Nationals’ lineup is hitting a cool .300 with a .373 wOBA, both of which are the second-best marks in MLB.
Ol’ Jonny Lester is still hanging around in the league, but that doesn’t mean he’s still effective at age 37. Lester posted career-worst numbers with Chicago last season, including a 5.11 xFIP and only a 6.20 K/9 rate. He’s lost all of his velocity, as none of his pitches average faster than 90 mph anymore. He’ll be facing one of the best lineups in baseball that actually leads the majors in wOBA.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels
Tanner McGrath: I absolutely love Andrew Heaney in this spot today.
Heaney’s 5.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP aren’t great. However, he’s due for some positive regression, as he’s posted a 3.36 xERA and a 3.00 xFIP. Moreover, if you exclude two horrific starts against the Mariners and White Sox, Heaney has allowed just three runs on seven hits over 17 2/3 innings.
Today is an awesome matchup for Heaney. Heaney’s biggest strength is missing bats, as he ranks among the top 20% of pitchers in whiff rate and chase rate, and he’s striking out a ridiculous 35.1% of batters faced this season.
The Rays have not been making contact recently. Over the past two weeks, the Rays have struck out on 28.6% of their plate appearances, second-most in baseball.
Meanwhile, when the Rays do make contact, they haven’t been making solid contact. During the same time frame, the Rays have the fourth-highest ground ball rate (48.6%) and the 10th-highest fly ball rate (35.6%). That adds up to the lowest line-drive rate (15.8%), which helps explain why the Rays have posted just a .203 batting average and a .627 OPS over the past two weeks.
Moreover, during the past two weeks and against lefties, the Rays are batting just .181 with a .610 OPS while striking out in 34.3% of plate appearances. I’m expecting the left-handed Heaney to mow down the Rays’ lineup today.
The Rays will have reliever Collin McHugh start the game, but he’ll most likely serve as an opener of some sort.
I fully believe that the Angels will avoid a disastrous four-game sweep on the back of Heaney’s pitching. I played the Angels ML at -121 on PointsBet but would take caution in playing them at worse than -125.