MLB Betting Odds & Picks: 3 Best Bets for Thursday, Including A’s vs. Red Sox & Reds vs. Rockies (May 13)
Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Luis Castillo.
- Our MLB staff is ready to roll on Thursday, hand-picking three of their favorite bets for Thursday's slate.
- The action starts with two first-five inning bets for A's vs. Red Sox and is followed by an over/under pick for Reds vs. Rockies at Coors Field.
- Check out each individual breakdown complete with odds and a pick below.
Thursday’s MLB slate features 12 games, and there are two that our staff is extremely confident in.
Check out each pick, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to any game on the docket.
MLB Odds & Picks
A’s vs. Red Sox
Brad Cunningham: Garrett Richards isn’t off to a great start to his career in Boston, posting a 4.55 xERA through his first seven starts. Richards primarily uses a fastball-slider combination with a lot of velocity. He throws a hard slider that doesn’t have much horizontal movement, but it really drops off the table.
Richards hasn’t been effective with either pitch this season, as both are allowing a wOBA over .340. That’s not going to work against this A’s lineup because those are the two pitches they’ve had the most success against this season, ranking in the top half of baseball against both.
Sean Manaea has been flat-out awesome so far this season for A’s. Through his first seven starts, he’s posted a 3.00 xERA and a 3.76 xFIP, which are the best marks of his career.
Manaea is mainly a sinkerball pitcher, throwing it over 58% of the time, but what is surprising is he doesn’t have a very high ground-ball rate. Manaea’s ground-ball rate of 38.4% is actually the lowest of his career. His fly-ball rate is way up from last season at 39.3%, but that’s actually been a positive for him because his HR/FB of 9.10% and HR/9 rate of 0.88 are the lowest of his career.
The Red Sox have hit lefties well this season (rank seventh in wOBA against LHP), but their lineup really struggles against sinkers. Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo are the only two players in their lineup that have a positive run value against sinkers.
A’s vs. Red Sox
Kenny Ducey: It’s true the Red Sox have been great against lefties this season, posting the eighth-best wRC+ and OPS in the league. It’s also true that Sean Manaea has been dominant so far in 2021 and could represent one of the toughest tests Boston has had to face all season.
Manaea’s strikeout rate has shot back up near the 27.5% clip we saw from him in 2019 when he was dominant in just five starts, resting comfortably at 26.2%.
He’s done away with his slider and has leaned on his sinker, changeup and curveball more in 2021, generating a higher whiff rate on all three than he saw in 2020. The biggest thing here is that hitters are just .237 off his sinker, which would represent the best number of his career, if you want to throw out the 2019 season when he started five games.
I say all of this because the Red Sox have been one of the best sinker-hitting teams in the league with 3.76 weighted runs per 100 pitches, according to FanGraphs. If any team is going to hit Manaea, it’s them.
On the other side, we’ve got Garrett Richards, who is a miracle of modern medicine but hasn’t really been a miracle worker on this hill this year, pitching to a 49.5% hard-hit rate.
Oakland has the 10th-best offense over the past two weeks, judging by wRC+ and should be up to the task here against Richards. Put it all together, and it makes sense why the total is so high. I’m going over in the first five.
Reds vs. Rockies
Tanner McGrath: My heart skipped a beat this morning when I saw Luis Castillo will be pitching at Coors Field today.
Castillo has been one of my favorite pitchers to fade this season. After two years of pitching at an all-star level, Castillo’s done nothing right this season. He’s posted a 6.42 ERA, a 4.55 FIP and a 1.63 WHIP so far, and the Reds are just 1-6 in his starts.
There are signs suggesting Castillo is due for some positive regression (.357 BABIP; 51.4% strand rate), but there are more signs that he’s just been pitching bad. Castillo’s whiff rate is down significantly on all four of his pitches, and thus, his strikeout rate has dropped. In fact, Castillo’s strikeout rate has been cut in half compared to last season (30.5% in 2020, 16.8% in 2021).
However, Castillo isn’t just missing bats at a significantly lower rate than usual, he’s also allowing more solid contact. He’s on pace to post the highest barrel rate (6.8%), hard hit rate (37.6%) and average exit velocity (89.3 mph) since 2018. Castillo’s ground ball rate (51.4%) has dropped significantly from last season (58.4%) as well.
In the other dugout, Chi Chi González’s 5.96 ERA, 7.08 xERA and ridiculously low 11.9% strikeout rate indicates a great opportunity for a hard-hitting Reds offense. It’s also worth noting the Reds are 22-11-1 to the over this season, making them the top over team in baseball.
Given the Rockies’ terrible offensive output, taking Colorado overs can be problematic. However, I believe in Castillo’s pathetic pitching and the Reds lineup enough to play the over today.