This article is part of our MLB Picks series.
MLB Free Picks Tonight: MLB Best Bets and Expert Picks for Thursday, May 26
Hello everyone and welcome back to the MLB season. The bats are heating up (and maybe the balls, too?) and while it is early, the separation we talked about last time is real and continuing. As of right now, I count roughly 13 teams that are already playing for next year leaving 17 to fight for the playoffs. Is that good or bad for the sport? I'm not sure, but I do know it does offer us opportunities on the betting front. We have a robust Thursday card to break down, so let's get to it.
Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds
The Cubs have found their bats in Cincy, as many teams do, and I am a big fan of what starting pitcher Justin Steele brings to the table. He has held the Reds to a .250 team average and .213 slugging in his career. Cincy starter Hunter Greene has yet to face the Cubs in his career and while his strikeout numbers are dazzling (50 Ks in 39.1 innings pitched) he has struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing 12 homers in his 8 starts. Those are scary numbers against a team that is seeing the ball well like Chicago. Steele, on the other hand, is the exact opposite, having given up only one home run in his 8 starts this year. I don't trust either bullpen, so I'm going to back the superior starter for the First 5 and expect the Cubs bats to carry the day.
MLB Expert Picks for Cubs-Reds
- Cubs ML First Five Innings (-114) (FanDuel)
Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
This is an excellent pitching matchup in Aaron Nola vs. Kyle Wright. Throughout his career, Nola has fared very well against the Bravos, holding them to a team OPS of .839 over 238 at-bats. Wright was hit pretty hard in his lone start against the Phils last year, but this year's Kyle Wright appears to be a much different guy, so I'm going to throw that one out. This is a bit of a contrarian play from a team perspective as both teams have been OVER teams thus far (ATL is 23-16 to the over while PHI is 21-19). I think that plays to our advantage here, pushing the number up to 8 where 7 or 7.5 is more where I would make this number with these two starters. I looked very hard at the First 5 under, but the value wasn't there, so I'm recommending the full game and crossing my fingers these bullpens do their jobs tonight.
MLB Expert Picks for Braves-Phillies
- UNDER 8 (-110) (DraftKings)
Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
These teams know each other very well and both starters are off to excellent starts this year. Adam Wainwright has dominated the Brewers over the years (.861 team OPS over 221 at-bats) and Eric Lauer has more than held his own against the Cardinals, holding them to a .179 team average and a .556 team OPS in his handful of starts. Both of these teams lead with pitching and try to do just enough offensively to win. With no strong total trends in either direction, I'll side with strong pitchers with strong histories and strong current form taking on weak offenses at plus money, and I'm even happier to do it in the first 5 to take the bullpens out of play.
MLB Expert Picks for Brewers-Cardinals
- First 5 UNDER 3.5 (+118) (BetRivers)
Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels
No, I'm not particularly excited to step in front of Ohtani tonight, but there is significant support for the Toronto bats tonight. The potent Jays lineup has given Ohtani fits so far in his career, racking up four extra-base hits, a .355 team average, and a whopping 1.114 team OPS against him. Now, that isn't to say he couldn't turn that around on a dime tonight, but it is clear the Jays see the ball well against him. Another concern with this selection is Toronto's starter Hyun Jin Ryu, who has been brutal since coming off the IL. However, he has dominated the Angels in his career and the warmer California weather may be the boost he needs to continue to stretch out. At this price, I'll ride with Toronto.
MLB Expert Picks for Blue Jays-Angels
- Blue Jays Moneyline (+145) (DraftKings)
MLB Picks Today Recap
- Cubs First Five ML (-114) vs. Reds at FanDuel
- Braves-Phillies: UNDER 8.0 (-110) at DraftKings
- Brewers-Cardinals: First Five UNDER 3.5 Runs (+118) at BetRivers
- Blue Jays-Angels: Blue Jays Moneyline (+145)
Overall: 8-8, -1.67 units
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