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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Diamondbacks vs. Nationals, Pirates vs. Cubs, More Bets For Thursday (April 21)

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Diamondbacks vs. Nationals, Pirates vs. Cubs, More Bets For Thursday (April 21) article feature image
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Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Dan Vogelbach and Ke’Bryan Hayes.

  • Baseball action is rolling along on Thursday, but there's plenty of action this evening as well.
  • Our MLB betting analysts have picks on Diamondbacks-Nationals and Pirates-Cubs to recommend tonight.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of all of our picks based on Thursday night's MLB odds.

It’s getaway day in Major League Baseball and there’s a host of afternoon affairs and only a few under the lights.

Our analysts have picks spread throughout the day, starting this afternoon and ending under the lights at Wrigley. We have moneyline favorites, underdogs, totals and team totals to recommend.

Here are our four best bets from Thusday’s Major League Baseball slate.

MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians
1:10 p.m. ET
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals
4:05 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs
7:40 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs
7:40 p.m. ET

Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Guardians

Pick
White Sox -140
Book
Caesars
Pitchers
Dylan Cease vs. Zach Plesac
First Pitch
1:10 p.m. ET

DJ James: The White Sox booted plenty of baseballs and looked lifeless in a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday, but today should be different. Dylan Cease has Cy Young stuff in the early going of this season. He holds a 1.96 xERA and a 39% strikeout clip, compared to Zach Plesac, who is at 5.69 and 15.9%, respectively.

The White Sox should be far more significant favorites. As a team, the White Sox will swing. They have a tendency to chase, which is not favorable, but this should not matter much against a pitch-to-contact pitcher like Plesac, who only has one walk this season.

The Sox are also primed for some positive regression. They rank first in exit velocity at 92.1 mph and first in xwOBA at .383. These hits will begin to fall and if Plesac is serving pitches up, as he has done in the past, they will hit him.

Plesac has allowed an average exit velocity over 90 mph since the beginning of 2021. The White Sox will hit him in this outing.

Take Cease and Chicago at -140. Play to -150.


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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals

Pick
Over 9 (-110)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Zach Davies vs. Josh Rogers
First Pitch
4:05 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Totals have been set pretty low to begin the season as offense has been down, but this total is way too low for me with these two starting pitchers on the mound.

The Diamondbacks will be pitching Zach Davies, who in 32 starts for the Cubs last year had a 6.31 xERA, a 4.56 BB/9 rate, and opponents had a .294 xBA against him. He’s a soft-tossing righty who likes to stay down in the zone trying to induce a high number of ground balls, since he throws a sinker or changeup close to 85% of the time.

Both pitches have not been effective through his first two starts, as they’re both allowing an xwOBA over .360. The Nationals last season had a +32 combined run value against both sinkers and changeups. So this is a great matchup for them, even though they haven’t been hitting the ball that well to begin the season.

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Josh Rogers has been fine through his first two starts, but this is a guy who had 5.6 xERA and a 1.77 HR/9 rate in six starts last year. Fangraphs ZIPS projections is projecting him to have an ERA of 5.9 this year with opponents hitting .293 against him. He’s predominantly a fastball/slider pitcher, and while his slider has been decent this season, his fastball has gotten roughed up a bit, allowing a .346 xwOBA, per Baseball Savant.

I know the Diamondbacks had one of the worst offenses in MLB last season, but they weren’t that bad versus lefties, finishing the season 13th in wOBA and HardHit%. Additionally, these were the two worst bullpens in baseball last year as only two to have a collective ERA over five. Based on projections, they are expected to be there again this season.

I have 10.4 runs projected for this game, so I love Over 9 runs at -110 and would play it up to -120.


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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs

Pick
Pirates Team Total Over 3.5 (-105)
Book
BetMGM
Pitchers
Bryse Wilson vs. Mark Leiter Jr.
First Pitch
7:40 p.m. ET

Collin Whitchurch: Mark Leiter Jr.’s first MLB appearance since 2018 was a rough one. Thrown to the wolves against a surprisingly hot Rockies team at Coors Field, Leiter allowed seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings, thanks mostly to four walks.

While his second start is under more ideal circumstances — against the lowly Pirates at home with weather not expected to play a role at Wrigley — I’m still looking a way to fade the untested 31-year-old.

The best way to do this without having to rely on the Pirates actually winning a game is to focus on the team total. The Pirates aren’t the most disciplined team in the league — ranking in the bottom 10 in walk rate — but they were around league average in that department a year ago. Leiter’s control issues against a similarly undisciplined Colorado team last time out shows that it doesn’t particularly matter how swing-happy a team is if the control is this big of an issue.

The Pirates at +140 are a tempting wager and one I’ll probably still play regardless, but to hedge against the Cubs putting up a crooked number against Bryse Wilson and/or the Pittsburgh bullpen, I’ll instead recommend the Pirates to score over 3.5 runs at -105. I would play that to 4 and -115.


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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs

Pick
Pirates +142
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
Bryse Wilson vs. Mark Leiter Jr.
First Pitch
7:40 p.m. ET

Jules Posner: Look, it’s not every day you get to say this, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are a great value Thursday night.

Pittsburgh heads into Thursday night’s match up at the Chicago Cubs as underdogs, but with Bryse Wilson on the mound, this may be a good chance for them to grab their second road win of the season.

Yes. The Pirates are only 1-5 on the road so far this season, but their first two road series’ were against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Yes. The Pirates just got swept by the Brewers, but they also had to face Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff on their home field. Eric Lauer was there, too.

The Cubs’ offense has been surprisingly potent so far this season, but those numbers could be inflated by a four-game series at Coors Field where they put up at least five runs in all four games.

Wilson is not off to a great start this season, but last season he posted a 3.72 ERA on the road. OK, so his FIP was 5.17 on the road in 2021, but his stronger split was still on the road.

Additionally, Mark Leiter Jr. is on the mound for the Cubs. Leiter got roughed up in Colorado in his first MLB appearance since 2018 and the Pirates offense has improved in 2022. Despite a small sample, the Pirates are 19th in team wRC+, which is above teams like the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox in the early going.

As the underdogs, the value on the Pirates ML is worth the risk.


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