Thursday MLB Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Bets for Orioles vs. Rays, Twins vs. Tigers (Aug. 27)

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G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez

Fifteen games are scheduled to take place across Major League Baseball on Thursday and our experts have narrowed down their favorite spots to two of them.

Here’s how we’re betting Orioles vs. Rays and Twins vs. Tigers.

Note: Odds as of 1:30 p.m. ET.


Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.


BJ Cunningham: Orioles Team Total Over 3.5 runs (+104) vs. Rays

Ryan Yarbrough hasn’t been very effective through his first five starts. He’s accumulated a 4.73 xFIP and his main issue has been his cutter. So far this season opponents are hitting .280 — along with a .349 wOBA — against it, which is a problem considering he throws it 38.7% of the time. The Orioles lineup has been pretty good against cutters so far this season, ranking ninth in MLB with 2.7 weighted cutter runs (wCT).

Yarbrough will need to be on point tonight because he doesn’t have a great matchup against an Orioles lineup that’s been drilling lefties this season.

Baltimore’s offense has the fourth-best wOBA (.365) and fifth-best wRC+ (131) against lefties. The Orioles lineup is no joke, as they have six guys with a wOBA over .350, so it’s a gauntlet trying to get through this lineup right now. They should have a great matchup against Ryan Yarbrough, who’s been trending downward this season.

I have Baltimore projected for 4.19 runs tonight, so I think there is good value on their team total of Over 3.5 runs at +104.

Danny Donahue: Orioles Moneyline (+165) vs. Rays

Same team — and a very similar thought process — but a slightly different bet here.

If your sportsbook happens to list ERA alongside starting pitchers, you probably continued right on past the Orioles … or perhaps took a long look at the other side instead. John Means enters this game boasting a fat 10.13 ERA through four starts, but his FIP (7.66) and xFIP (5.53), while still admittedly high, do suggest that he hasn’t been quite that bad.

The latter is also at least somewhat comparable to Ryan Yarbrough’s, which as BJ mentioned, sits at 4.73. Means is also sporting better K/9 (6.75 vs. 6.23) and BB/9 (1.69 vs. 2.67) ratios than Yarbrough, all of which suggests that this matchup isn’t as far off as it seems — and that doesn’t even account for the fact that the O’s have been better vs. lefties than the Rays.

And of course, I can’t help myself from leaning on indications from the betting market, which in this case land the Orioles into one of our PRO betting systems:

With Baltimore attracting only 27% of bets but 49% of the money, I’m going to follow the big spenders on a matchup that I think is much closer than this line suggests.

Collin Wilson: Tigers Moneyline (+135) vs. Twins

Editor’s note: The Twins and Tigers have decided not to play Thursday’s game.

How the mighty have fallen, especially in the world of facing left-handed pitching. In 2019, Minnesota was lethal against southpaws, ranking second in wRC+ and first in ISO. The Twins were tearing the cover off the ball against lefties and the offseason addition of Josh Donaldson was expected to continue the trend. This first month of play has been anything but a joyride for Twins hitters against left-handers. Minnesota current ranks against them are 21st in wRC+ and 29th in ISO.

After a couple of struggling starts, lefty Matthew Boyd is coming off two starts with an xFIP no higher than 2.93, collecting 15 strikeouts in 9.1 innings pitched. This is a pitcher that should be shopped around as Detroit fades out of the postseason picture, but as long as Boyd keeps his home runs per nine down, he is an excellent spot start for DFS and cash wagers. The Twins are 29th in homerun-to-flyball ratio, thus making Boyd a decent underdog bet.

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