MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets From Thursday’s Slate, Including Tigers vs. Blue Jays, Cubs vs. Giants (July 28)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood
- Major League Baseball brings us eight more games tonight, and our analysts have found value on four of them.
- Included in our picks are Tigers-Blue Jays, Mariners-Astros, Dodgers-Rockies and Cubs-Giants.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of our best bets from Thursday's MLB slate.
Thursday brings us an abbreviated, 10-game slate with two afternoon affairs followed by eight games this evening.
It’s a day of ‘dogs, too, as two of our analysts are on the underdog in Tigers vs. Blue Jays, while we have another underdog pick in Mariners vs. Astros. Picks in Dodgers vs. Rockies and Cubs vs. Giants include a player prop and a total.
Here are our five best bets from today’s Major League Baseball slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Tigers vs. Blue Jays
Jules Posner: I am horrified of this pick, but it is really hard to pass up a fade of Yusei Kikuchi. The Detroit Tigers have quietly been decent against LHP on the road and Kikuchi has a penchant for making offenses look more than decent whenever he’s pitching.
Kikuchi’s home numbers are all over the place as he’s posted a 4.54 ERA, 5.67 FIP and a 3.64 xFIP over 37 2/3 home innings. He’s also backed by one of the more erratic bullpens in MLB.
While Tyler Alexander does not inspire much confidence, especially with his road numbers which I will not list as to not remind myself how scary this pick is, the Tigers’ bullpen has been excellent this year. Even without Andrew Chafin making the trip, they are still a strong unit.
Additionally, the Blue Jays don’t mash LHP like they should. Over the past month they only have a 77 wRC+ against LHP at home, which is 24th in MLB.
The Tigers’ moneyline is sitting around the +180 range and it should be played at +150 or better. May god have mercy on our souls.
Tigers vs. Blue Jays
Charlie DiSturco: Happy fade Yusei Kikuchi day!
Activated off the injured list for Thursday night’s matchup with the Tigers, Kikuchi made some changes to his arm motion and slider. But until he proves otherwise, I will continue to fade the southpaw who has been downright horrendous since signing with the Blue Jays.
Kikuchi has a 5.12 ERA, but what’s alarming is his xERA sits over a full run higher at 6.26. He’s in the bottom 1% of all pitchers in both hard-hit rate and barrel rate and often struggles with command.
The fact that he’s this heavy of a favorite puts a lot of value on the Detroit Tigers. As bad as their offense has been this season, they actually hit lefties well. They have a .273 average against southpaws and rank 17th in wOBA and 19th in wRC+.
While Tyler Alexander does struggle with barrel rate and his xBA is a career-worst .282, he shouldn’t pitch more than a couple innings. Instead, it’ll be a bullpen-heavy game for the Tigers.
And if there’s one bright spot from this disastrous first half, it’s been the relief corp. Detroit has the fourth-best bullpen ERA and ranks 13th in xFIP. The Tigers’ high-leverage arms should be able to keep the lead intact once Alexander departs — assuming they’re able to get to Kikuchi.
It’s never fun backing a heavy underdog nor the Tigers’ offense, but this number has gotten way too high. You’ll often get value fading public darlings like Toronto and with Kikuchi on the mound, this is the perfect spot for Detroit to sneak up and steal the series opener.
Mariners vs. Astros
Kenny Ducey: This is yet another opportunity for the Seattle Mariners to earn a statement win over a division rival. Some might say it’s their best chance.
That’s because Jose Urquidy will be on the hill for the Astros, and he’s not very good. The righty owns a 4.79 xERA in 18 starts this season, pitching to just an 18.2% strikeout rate and a seriously elevated .267 expected batting average. He memorably shut down the Mariners in Seattle the last time he took the ball, but gave up a homer, struck out three and walked two over six frames.
Urquidy has now given up a homer in all but one of his last 12 starts, and that should work out well for the Mariners, who have hit 12 homers in the last two weeks to rank 10th in baseball, inside a hitter’s park.
Logan Gilbert’s season has been complicated, but over his last two starts he’s managed to cut down on the gopher balls that have given him fits. He’s a talented pitcher who’s still ironing out his game, and the fact that he has been a machine in the strikeout department with 19 in his last three starts — spanning 17 innings — gives me enough faith here that he can hold the Astros off just enough for the Mariners’ offense to cook.
Dodgers vs. Rockies
Alex Hinton: Kris Bryant has battled injuries in his first season with the Colorado Rockies and did not hit his first homer until July. That came against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bryant gets the Dodgers again today. Bryant has hit five home runs in addition to hitting .333 in his last 15 games.
Perhaps more importantly, Bryant faces Dodgers left-hander Tyler Anderson tonight. Bryant hits .345 and has a 1.018 OPS against LHP this season. Against Anderson, he is 9-for-24 with two doubles and four home runs in his career. Bryant has a hit in seven of the nine meetings against the Dodgers this season and in 18 of his last 24 games overall.
Bryant is hitting .322 in Colorado this season. In 18 games where he has a faced a LH starter, Bryant is averaging 2.05 total bases. I like Bryant to stay hot with his matchup and go over his total bases.
The +300 on him to hit a home run is worth a sprinkle as well.
Cubs vs. Giants
Anthony Dabbundo: Justin Steele has occasional walk and command issues that lower his ceiling, but he induces a ton of weak contact and ranks in the top 5% in barrel rate allowed and top 15% in hard-hit rate allowed.
Steele’s xERA is just 3.73, considerably lower than his ERA that sits above four.
Alex Wood’s has a 18.3% K-BB%, which is above league average. Combine that with his excellent ground ball rate above 50% and the results should be better for him than they have been to this point. It helps him compensate for his average at best Stuff+ rating.
So long as he’s able to keep the ball on the ground, the Giants defense may not help him, but it can’t possibly continue hurting him as much as it has to this point in the year.
Wood gets a solid matchup here with the Cubs, who do project better against right-handed pitching than lefties.
Chicago’s bullpen continues to be underrated too, as the group is top 5 in K-BB% and in xFIP. The Cubs bullpen have struggled a bit with homers, but this is one of the most favorable pitchers ballparks in the entire league, especially for home runs.
Both starters are due for positive regression and all of the signs point me toward the under in this game, and I am betting it as long as you can get an 8 at -115 or better.
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