MLB Odds, Picks, Prediction for Thursday: Our Staff’s Best Bets, Including Cardinals vs. Braves & Brewers vs. Rockies (June 17)
Michael Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves standout Freddie Freeman.
- Thursday brings 10 games on the MLB slate, with just a pair throwing first pitch in the early afternoon.
- Our staff has identified four games as having great betting value, three of which begin on the night slate.
- See which games our analysts are betting today, below.
We have an intriguing, 10-game schedule on Thursday’s Major League Baseball card, giving our analysts plenty of options for their best bets.
Needless to say, the quartet has delivered four different wagers, highlighted by a West Coast matinee featuring the Arizona Diamondbacks taking on the San Francisco Giants.
Check out the crew’s top selections on the card below.
MLB Odds & Picks
Diamondbacks vs. Giants
Sean Zerillo: The Arizona Diamondbacks are on one of the worst runs in the history of baseball.
They’re on a 13-game losing streak that dates back to June 1, making their record 1-12 this month, and they’ve gone 6-37 (.139) since May 1, which is pretty shocking for a team that finished April above .500 in the standings.
Over that same stretch, the DIamondbacks are 10-30-3 (25%) in the first five innings of those contests, including a 2-12 record in June.
Still, they’ll see the return of their ace — Zac Gallen — on Thursday as he takes the mound after recovering from a UCL sprain.
Since entering the league, Gallen is just 12-14-6 on the F5 moneyline. Still, he has already established himself as one of the most effective starting pitchers in baseball (3.37 xERA, 4.27 xFIP, 4.20 SIERA in 2021) with excellent command and four above-average offerings (fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup).
Both the injury — and the Diamondbacks struggles — provide line value on Thursday’s matchup. I made the Diamondbacks a 41% underdog on the F5 moneyline, and I would bet that down to +160 odds. Furthermore, I would add some F5 spread (+0.5) at any plus money price.
Chicago Cubs at New York Mets
Kenny Ducey: Kyle Hendricks has been one of the most fadeable pitchers in baseball this year, and despite running up against a depleted Mets lineup I still don’t like his chances.
The Mets have the seventh-best wRC+ over the past two weeks, and the only thing that’s really hampered them is strikeouts. On the whole, 26.4 percent of their plate appearances have resulted in a punchout. Other than that, this lineup is seventh in walk rate and second in home run-to-fly ball ratio. That’s why I hate Hendricks against this lineup.
The righty has hardly sat anyone down this year, with a lowly 17.9% strikeout rate, and he’s been burned by a considerably higher hard-hit rate. As a result, he’s allowed a mammoth 19 home runs, which leads the major leagues and is nearly a career high for him in just 13 starts.
The Mets’ propensity for converting fly balls into home runs and almost perfectly average ground-ball rate spell disaster for Hendricks, who won’t be able to get out of trouble with strikeouts against this team like other pitchers.
Then, there’s Marcus Stroman, who has been exceptional at limiting walks and barrels this year. Though his hard-hit rate is up, good whiff and chase rates coupled with expert control should help him limit traffic on the basepaths. It should all come up Mets.
Cardinals vs. Braves
Tanner McGrath: It was recently pointed out to me that the biggest regression candidate among pitchers this season is the Cardinals’ starter John Gant. After digging into the numbers, it’s even worse than I thought.
Through his first 10 starts this season, Gant posted a 1.60 ERA and hit the under nine times. Inexplicably, however, he also walked 34 batters in those 50 innings while striking out just 39 (6.93 K/9, 6.04 BB/9). Add that to his 43 hits, and he posted a ridiculously high 1.55 WHIP to go along with his ludicrously low ERA.
As expected, he posted a super high strand rate during that stretch, 86.3%, which is unsustainable over the course of a full season. All in all, Gant paired that ERA with an xFIP above 5.00.
However, it seems like the regression machine has finally started clicking for Gant. In his last two starts, Gant has managed just 5 2/3 innings while allowing 12 runs on eight hits and eight walks. He also struck out only three in the process.
However, Gant’s expected statistics are still much higher. After these past two starts, Gant still has the fifth-highest difference between his xERA (6.11) and his ERA (3.35) in the league (2.79). He’s now walking just as many batters as he’s striking out (6.71 per nine) and his WHIP is up to 1.65.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Today, Gant has to face a Braves lineup that loves batting at Truist Field. Among teams at home this season, the Braves have scored the fifth-most runs (5.36 per game); the fifth-highest slugging percentage (.469); and, sixth-highest wOBA (.340). I’m banking on another rough outing for Gant.
Meanwhile, Charlie Morton hasn’t been awesome (4.50 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) and the Braves already terrible bullpen is stretched to its limits after pitching 15 2/3 innings over the past three games. While the Cardinals offense has struggled in June, I think Nolan Arenado and his teammates could plate a few runs in this spot.
All-in-all, I’m very confident in the Braves going over their team total at 4.5 runs, so I’m looking to play that to -140 odds. However, the Action PRO report has tracked sharp money on the over 9 while our model projections has the total set at about 9.67 runs.
Therefore, I’m going to bank on the Cardinals’ offense also and play the total over 9 runs at -120 odds or better.
Colorado Rockies vs. Milwaukee Brewers
DJ James: Brandon Woodruff is a notable name among National League starting pitchers, and Germán Márquez might be one of the only recognizable names left on the Colorado Rockies to general baseball fans.
The total for this game in Denver sits at a juiced 10.5 runs. Woodruff owns an xERA of 2.61, while Marquez is around 4.05 in the category. That’s not terrible given how this location has the third highest park-adjusted runs in the majors with 1.309 (1 is the median) overall.
However, these two teams rank in the bottom two in wRC+ against right-handers this season. Regardless of where they are hitting, they cannot match up with above average righties. Woodruff could easily strike out 10 Rockies hitters and go on to throw seven-plus innings, and Marquez can do some damage to a struggling Brewers lineup as well.
Neither of these starters gives up hard-hit balls consistently, so the breaking point of this game would land on the bullpens.
Given how both of these teams struggle when facing righties, Woodruff and Marquez can both go deep into this game. The total of 10.5 runs is far too high, and I would take this down to 10 at -120 odds. Go with the under in this spot.
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