MLB Betting: Thursday Best Bets

MLB Betting: Thursday Best Bets

This article is part of our MLB Betting series.

Previous day: 2-2, -.30 RWBucks
Season: 6-8, -2.95 RWBucks

We have a shorter Thursday schedule before a full weekend of MLB action, and I'm focused on a couple games I think can end up on either end of the spectrum when it comes to offense. The two stadiums in question are diametric opposites in terms of how they can often treat pitchers, so it will be interesting to see if each lives up to its reputation in the pair of games I'm highlighting.

In search of the best price, I used FanDuel and PointsBet sportsbooks.

Mariners at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. EDT

Starting Pitchers: Justin Dunn vs. Nick Pivetta 

The Pick: Over 9.0 runs (-122 FanDuel) for 1 RWBuck

The surface numbers on both starting pitchers certainly don't portend a particularly high-scoring game, but each has some blemishes that can spell trouble against talented lineups. The Red Sox particularly check into Thursday's series opener running hot, as they own a .299 team average and .368 wOBA over the last week of play, as well as an MLB-high .354 wOBA for the season.

In addition, it's worth noting Boston owns a solid 9.0 percent walk rate against right-handed pitching, including an 11.2 percent figure versus righties in the last week. That's especially relevant when evaluating Dunn, who's seen control issues serve as his biggest albatross during his young career. The 25-year-old issued eight free passes in his first start of the season, and although he's managed to mostly limit damage, it goes without saying he's tempting fate if he begins putting an abundance of runners on against a team like the BoSox in Fenway.

On the other side, Pivetta has also possibly been a bit fortunate and could be getting closer to a regression. The gulf between both his xERA (5.55) and ERA (3.68) and his xFIP (5.43) and FIP (4.31) is concerning, as are his own considerable location issues — Pivetta sports a 6.8 BB/9 through his first three starts. The Mariners haven't truly gotten going yet offensively, but they've been at their best against right-handed pitching on the road, posting a .330 wOBA and 2.2 wRAA in 157 plate appearances.

Both bullpens are among the best in baseball at the moment, so that does present somewhat of an obstacle for the over. However, half of Boston's 12 home games have finished with a total of more than nine runs, while a seventh landed right on the total. Given the two starters and the setting, I think enough offense can be produced early for the over to hit.

Marlins at Giants, 9:45 p.m. EDT

Starting Pitchers: Daniel Castano vs. Aaron Sanchez 

The Pick: Under 8.5 (-110 PointsBet) for 1 RWBuck

Secondary Pick: Under 4.5 runs in first 5 innings (-115 FanDuel) for 1 RWBuck

In contrast to the first game just discussed, this has a chance to turn into a pitcher's duel for a number of reasons, not the least which is pitcher-friendly Oracle Park. Additionally, both starting pitchers have proven adept at limiting the long ball during their respective careers, which compounds the run suppression the Giants' home stadium already provides.

Castano has a much shorter MLB tenure than Sanchez, but he's looked right at home since making the jump from Double-A ball to the majors last season. The 26-year-old has a 2.86 ERA over his first eight MLB appearances (seven starts) and held this same San Fran squad to an earned run on three hits in five innings in his one 2021 start on Friday at Marlins Park. Castano yielded an HR/9 north of 1.1 just once in seven minor-league stops, and that figure stood at a minuscule 0.9 during his first big-league campaign in 2020. The Giants also check in with just a .207 average and .296 OBP in 213 plate appearances versus southpaws this season, with those figures dipping to .146 and .281 when facing them at home (57 plate appearances).

On the other side, Sanchez's strong start doesn't appear to be much of a mirage. He still sports a solid xERA (3.62) and his 4.09 xFIP isn't too stark a departure from his 3.56 FIP. The veteran righty has also generated a typically modest 0.6 HR/9 through three starts. Sanchez also saw his Thursday opponent in his last trip to the mound and held Miami to an earned run on five hits over 4.2 innings, and he previously tamed the more fearsome lineups of the Padres and Reds to a combined 2.70 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 10 total innings against the two clubs. Finally, consider the Marlins are far from a powerhouse against righties, posting a .288 wOBA, 25.4 percent strikeout rate and -8.2 wRAA (461 PAs) thus far.

Factor in both bullpens rank in the top 10 in wOBA allowed, and I see a good case for the under hitting, with a prop on it prevailing in the first five innings also in play.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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