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Thursday MLB Betting Picks: Best Bets for Rangers vs. Padres, Diamondbacks vs. Athletics (August 20)

Thursday MLB Betting Picks: Best Bets for Rangers vs. Padres, Diamondbacks vs. Athletics (August 20) article feature image

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Manaea

It’s another early start for the MLB slate on Thursday, as the first games will get underway just after 1 p.m. ET. For our staff, however, the best bets of the day don’t come until later.

Below you’ll find our top plays of the night on a pair of games: Rangers vs. Padres (8:10 p.m. ET) and Diamondbacks vs. Athletics (9:40 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.

Note: odds as of 12 p.m. ET.

BJ Cunningham: Padres -1.5 (+110) vs. Rangers

The Padres offense has been amazing so far this season, ranking seventh in baseball in terms of wOBA (.331) and wRC+ (110). They’ve hit the second-most home runs (45) so far in 2020, trailing only the Dodgers.

And if you’ve been living under a rock, then maybe you haven’t heard of what Fernando Tatis, Jr. is doing. The 21-year-old phenom is now one of the best players in baseball. He leads the majors with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in only 26 games.

Dinelson Lamet has been fantastic through his first five starts, with a 1.59 ERA and 3.89 xFIP. His slider has been untouchable so far this season, producing a 47.6% whiff rate and 26 strikeouts.

He’s also throwing it more than 50% of the time, which is bad news for a Rangers lineup that has struggled mightily against sliders so far this season.

Kyle Gibson has been fine thus far, with a 3.81 xFIP through his first four starts. He’s your classic sinker-ball guy, who keeps the ball down in the zone, trying to produce ground-ball outs.

He’ll have to go at least six innings to give the Rangers a chance to win because their bullpen has been a disaster to this point. It ranks 27th baseball in terms of xFIP at 4.97.

The Rangers offense has also been anemic to this point in the season, ranking 29th in MLB in terms of wOBA (.286) and wRC+ (71).

I have the margin of victory projected at 1.69 for the Padres tonight, so I think there is some value on the Padres run line of -1.5 at +110.

Stuckey: Diamondbacks Moneyline (+126) vs. A’s

Well, if you’ve been reading these from the start, you probably know where I’m going tonight, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

The Snakes lineup, which I love against lefties, gets to face one tonight and it just happens to be one of my favorite early season fades in Sean Manaea.

Manaea just hasn’t looked right since his outings in the exhibition games leading up to the regular season.

I don’t know if he’s hurt or just isn’t in form yet but his velocity and/or control have both dropped off a cliff every start around the 3rd or 4th inning like clockwork.

Manaea has never made it past the 5th inning in each of his five starts and here is his ERA breakdown by innings:

  • 1st-3rd: 3.07 ERA
  • 4th-5th: 21.18 ERA

Now, maybe this is the start he breaks through, as some of the underlying metrics offer some reasons for optimism, but I’ll pay to find out as I think this line is too high which is ultimately the deciding factor (even though the A’s also crush lefties and will get one that doesn’t project that well tonight in Young).

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