MLB Odds & Best Bets: Our Top 6 Picks, Including Mariners vs. Athletics, Pirates vs. Brewers (Thursday, June 30)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Logan Gilbert
- Thursday's MLB slate may be short on games, but it's loaded with betting opportunities.
- There are seven games tonight and we have four of those games on which to recommend betting angles.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of all of our best bets from tonight's MLB slate.
It’s getaway day in Major League Baseball and after the Twins and Guardians get going this afternoon, there’s seven more games under the lights, with key series’ either wrapping up or getting started for the weekend.
Of those seven games, our analysts have picks on four, including Yankees vs. Astros, Pirates vs. Brewers, Reds vs. Cubs and Athletics vs. Mariners. These include plays on the run line, moneyline, total and more.
Here are our best bets from Thursday’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Yankees Team Total
DJ James: Luis García has had a rough month for the Houston Astros. He has a 4.84 ERA over 22 1/3 innings. His peripherals have also taken a step back. He now ranks in the 36th percentile in average exit velocity at 89.3 mph, which is more than a 1% increase from last season. In total, he has not been particularly unlucky with a 3.68 ERA against a 3.64 xERA, so he is right in line with expectations.
The New York Yankees have the second-best wRC+ against right-handers in June at 133. Look for this Yankees lineup to take advantage of García’s cold stretch. In June against right-handed pitching, New York has seven batters above a .340 xwOBA with five batters averaging at least a 90 mph exit velocity. Yankees hitters will be able to barrel up the baseball with García on the mound.
The Astros also only have five relief pitchers with a sub-4.00 xFIP this month, so their collective 3.72 xFIP this month is propped up only by a essentially half of the bullpen.
Pirates First Five
Sean Zerillo: I find myself betting on JT Brubaker fairly often. He’s solid, if unspectacular (3.79 xERA, 4.23 xFIP, 4.16 SIERA) and a competent mid-rotation arm. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about his underlying metrics, his stuff, or his batted ball results — he essentially ranks in the middle of the pack of qualified pitchers by almost every measure.
However, competency is hard to come by for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and as a result, Brubaker is one of their more effective starting pitchers.
I view him as a slightly superior pitcher to Adrian Houser (4.26 xERA, 4.12 xFIP, 4.53 SIERA), whose groundball rate (48%) has declined by more than 10% relative to the past two seasons.
Brubaker’s strikeout minus walk rate or K-BB% (13%, 51st among qualified pitchers) ranks well ahead of Houser (8.4%), 72nd out of 78 qualified starters.
While the Brewers are a superior club offensively (101 wRC+ vs. righties, compared to 85 for the Pirates), defensively (4th vs. 18th in Defensive Runs Saved), and in the bullpen (3.66 vs. 4.25 Model Weighted ERA), I still favor the Pirates at home in both halves of this matchup.
However, I see a more significant edge on Pittsburgh over the first five innings (F5), as 53.6% favorites, compared to just 51.2% for the whole game.
You can bet Pittsburgh in both halves, down to -106 (F5) and +102 (full game). Still, their F5 line is my preferred wager for Thursday.
Charlie DiSturco: It’s never fun backing the Pittsburgh PIrates in any capacity, but Thursday night is a perfect opportunity.
For the majority of the season, the Pirates’ offense has ranked near the bottom of MLB in offensive categories. But with the callups of Oneil Cruz and Bligh Madris, the lineup has slowly come together.
Over the last 14 days, the Pirates rank fourth in isolated power and 19th in wOBA. And now they draw a struggling Adrian Houser, who sports a 5.86 ERA in June.
Houser has been on my fade list all season long. Opponents have a .277 xBA and .438 xSLG against the right-hander. He’s not generating swings and misses nor producing ground balls at the same rate as in years past.
While Houser has limited barrels, he has a career-worst hard hit rate and still struggles at times with control. He also has a 5.50 road ERA. All this to say it’s a perfect recipe for Pittsburgh to jump on the 29-year-old early.
Opposite Houser is JT Brubaker, who I still think is underrated. His xERA (3.79) is nearly a half run lower than his actual ERA (4.14) and he’s improved across the board analytically from his first two seasons in the majors.
Brubaker’s barrel rate is down, opponents have a .239 xBA and pitches better at PNC Park than on the road.
I don’t trust Pittsburgh’s bullpen and to eliminate any chances of yet another late blown lead, I’d back the Pirates on the first five moneyline down to -105. Brubaker has the edge on Houser, who I expect to struggle once again on the road.
Reds First Five
Brad Cunningham: Graham Ashcraft may have been the Reds’ eighth-ranked prospect coming into the season, but through seven starts, he’s proving that he belongs in the big leagues.
In a little over 40 innings, he’s posted a 3.23 xERA, 3.58 xFIP and only a 1.52 BB/9 rate. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he does a fantastic job producing groundballs at a staggering 57.5% rate. That’s huge because the wind is blowing 12+ mph out at Wrigley tonight.
Ashcraft mainly throws a cutter and slider, which nobody has been able hit hard with an average exit velocity allowed at only 85.2 mph, per Baseball Savant, which is in the top 5% among MLB pitchers. Oh, and he also averages 97.4 mph on his cutter.
The Cubs lineup is second-to-last in MLB against cutters with a -13 run value and are 16th in terms of wRC+ against right-handed pitching. This should be a great matchup for Ashcraft.
Kyle Hendricks has been awful this season, posting a 5.22 xERA, which the first time it’s been over five for his career. He’s once again struggling to keep the ball inside the yard as his HR/9 rate is up at 1.55 and his groundball percentage is shockingly bad at 36.4% — not what you want with the wind blowing fiercely out to center field.
I have Ashcraft and the Reds projected at -111 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at +105 or better.
Anthony Dabbundo: The Reds consistently rank in the bottom five across most bullpen metrics, from ERA to FIP to hard-hit rate to K-BB%. It’s been all bad in Cincinnati once the starter departs the game and there’s no reason to not expect that to continue.
The Cubs are also in the bottom five in bullpen ERA, but they’ve been bitten by variance more than anything despite solid underlying metrics. The Cubs are actually top five in K-BB% rate among relievers and the addition of David Robertson at the back end helps them considerably with depth. Chicago has a significant bullpen edge here, despite what the ERAs might tell you.
The Cubs’ bullpen is a great buy low, but I’m still betting Cincinnati in the first five innings because of the difference in starting pitcher quality. Kyle Hendricks is a name you probably know, but the pitcher doesn’t match the name anymore. Hendricks has allowed a career high barrel rate and hard-hit rate, he’s just not the same pitch to contact guy anymore.
And even though pitch to contact is a general term and one that’s always sort of described Hendricks, it’s become more extreme in 2021 and 2022. His strikeout rate sits around 17% and despite a good walk rate, he’s in just the 16th percentile for strikeout rate.
Graham Ashcraft is a pitcher you probably don’t know that well given that he’s a rookie, but the right-hander has demonstrated elite control and a 3.22 xERA. He won’t blow you away with his stuff, but his fastball/cutter/slider mix is effective twice through the order.
His 57.1% groundball rate through 42 innings at the big league level is impressive and if it continues, he’ll have staying power in MLB. He is unlikely to maintain an ERA this low, but he’s clearly the better pitcher in this matchup.
Mariners Run Line
Jules Posner: I’m not sure if this is good analysis or if this is just me rage-fading the A’s after their meltdown on Monday night, but here we are.
Logan Gilbert gets the ball at home for the Mariners and he’s been lights out at home this season to the tune of a 2.27 ERA and a 2.51 FIP. He also gets to face an offense that struggles to score runs.
The A’s do have a team wRC+ of 96 on the road against RHP over the past three weeks, but Logan Gilbert kept the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins in check in his last two home starts.
The Mariners are dealing with some injuries on the offensive side and have struggled against RHP at home over the past few weeks, but they are on the receiving end of an Oakland A’s bullpen game, which could be a blessing.