Thursday’s slate is lighter on getaway day in MLB, but there are matchups spread out across the afternoon and well into the night.
Our analysts have pinpointed value in three of those night matchups with four picks total. They include a pair of player props and a pair of sides. We have two picks in Angels-Red Sox, where Los Angeles sends Shohei Ohtani to the mound looking to snap its 14-game losing streak.
Here are our best bets from Thursday’s Major League Baseball slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Guardians
Jules Posner: Josh Naylor has been in a little bit of a funk as of late, but after a solid series at home against the Texas Rangers, he gets to take his shot at James Kaprielian and Oakland’s shaky bullpen.
Naylor is hitting .375 at home against RHP with a .188 ISO. Additionally, four of his 12 hits at home against RHP have gone for extra bases.
Kaprielian has struggled against left-handed hitters overall this season, but lefties are hitting .303 against him so far in his road starts. Overall, lefties are hitting .286 and slugging at a .375 clip.
Furthermore, the A’s bullpen has been one of the worst units in baseball over the past three weeks where it has the league’s highest FIP, ERA and sixth-highest batting average against over that span.
Naylor’s total base odds are at +105 for over 1.5 total bases. If it stays in plus money, this should be a good value for a hitter who is in an excellent position to break out. Naylor favors hitting at home in general, and based on his past series he should have a shot at eclipsing 1.5 total bases on Thursday night.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals
Kenny Ducey: On the one hand, Kris Bubic is pitching this game, but on the other, the Orioles can’t really hit lefties. I think I’m going to hold my nose and put my money on Kansas City.
The thing is, the Royals really aren’t so bad. They’re hitting the ball decently enough, posting a 90 wRC+ in the last two weeks — a below-average mark but nothing disastrous. They don’t really hold a candle to the Orioles’ offense, but Baltimore has been unsightly against lefties with a 25.8% strikeout rate and .639 OPS. It’s early, but it would seem to make sense that this team prefers to hit right-handers given some of the splits from its best hitters.
Bubic also shut down the Orioles when he saw them last season, going 11 ⅓ innings and allowing just three earned runs with nine strikeouts. It’s not inconceivable to think he could limit the damage enough for this Royals offense to get to a struggling Jordan Lyles, whose incompetence has closely rivaled Bubic’s.
There’s a world where Bubic is able to win this game for the Royals, and I don’t know if Kansas City is accurately priced here at home.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
DJ James: Nick Pivetta has been sharp lately. He has not allowed more than three runs in an outing since mid-April. Shohei Ohtani, on the other hand, gave up four runs in three innings of work in his last start and five in six innings the prior start.
The edge primarily lies in the Red Sox offense. They have an MLB-best 134 wRC+ in the last month, compared to 108 for Los Angeles. Since May 25 (the beginning of the Angels’ losing streak), that number has tumbled to 78 wRC+ and a team OBP of .278.
Given Pivetta’s ability to go deep into games in his hot stretch, he should be able to keep this lineup in check. It will, in turn, negate any shortcomings in the Boston bullpen. Even still, they have a reliever 3.71 xFIP, so they should be able to control the game after Pivetta exits.
Take the Red Sox to -125.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Anthony Dabbundo: Shohei Ohtani has struggled mightily in his last two starts for the Angels. He’s allowed nine runs in nine innings in matchups against the Blue Jays and Yankees. I think that’s deflating his strikeout total in this matchup on Thursday night.
Even if Ohtani does get hit hard, he still has knockout stuff to produce whiffs and strikeouts. I know that his strikeout rate has dipped a bit this season, but his stuff hasn’t fallen off at all.
When Ohtani is effectively locating the fastball, he’s one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. His Stuff+ metric is fourth among MLB starts, per Eno Sarris of The Athletic, behind only Hunter Greene, Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole.
The Red Sox are also a favorable matchup to produce strikeouts. Boston has the sixth-worst chase rate in the league and will swing at plenty of pitches outside of the zone. The Red Sox are also fifth in swinging strike rate.
While the Red Sox are one of the more aggressive lineups in the league and swing early in counts, I actually think that helps Ohtani get ahead in counts and use his breaking pitches to produce late count whiffs.
Our Action Labs Props total has Ohtani at 7.7 strikeouts and I will happily play o6.5 Ks at -120 or better.
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