Of the five new series beginning Thursday, one is between teams that are both .500 or better, as the Los Angeles Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers are clinging to hopes of catching the Atlanta Braves for the top overall seed while currently 3.5 games back). Meanwhile, the Giants’ playoff chances are on life support.
Thursday's MLB schedule and odds
(odds via DraftKings)
- Los Angeles Angels (+205) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (-250)
- Milwaukee Brewers (-105) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (-115)
- Toronto Blue Jays (+114) vs. New York Yankees (-135)
- Atlanta Braves (-265) vs. Washington Nationals (+215)
- Baltimore Orioles (-155) vs. Cleveland Guardians (+130)
- New York Mets (+145) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-175)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (+142) vs. Chicago Cubs (-170)
- Detroit Tigers (-180) vs. Oakland Athletics (+150)
- San Francisco Giants (+150) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-180)
Thursday's MLB best bets
- Player prop: Bryce Harper Over 0.5 RBIs vs. Mets (+195 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
- Player prop: Johan Oviedo Under 2.5 earned runs vs. Cubs (-135 via DraftKings, bet365) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Player prop: Bo Bichette Under 1.5 total bases vs. Yankees (-160 via DraftKings, bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
- Run line: Rays -1.5 vs. Angels (-114 via BetRivers) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Thursday's MLB prop picks
Player prop: Bryce Harper Over 0.5 RBIs vs. Mets (+195 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper faces New York Mets southpaw David Peterson, against whom he's posted a 1.159 OPS over 13 career at-bats. Harper leads the team with a .287 batting average and .392 on-base percentage. His power numbers have been improving during the second half, as was slugging .400 before the All-Star Break compared to 564 since.
While Harper’s OPS against lefties is 72 points lower than against right-handers, Peterson’s road ERA is over four runs higher than at home (7.35 to 3.18). There should also be plenty of traffic on the bases ahead of Harper. He hits behind Trea Turner, who's slashing .338/.384/.676 in September.
Player prop: Johan Oviedo Under 2.5 earned runs vs. Cubs (-135 via DraftKings, bet365) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Chicago Cubs look like an outlier in the NL wild-card race, as they've posted a plus-93 run differential and are fighting for the second or third wild-card spot against clubs with negative run differentials. That's a product of their 31 wins by five-plus wins (one fewer than the Braves). However, they're in danger of losing a series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, largely because of how well Johan Oviedo has been pitching.
Despite pitching to a 5.11 ERA over three September starts, Oviedo has notched a 3.47 ERA since Aug. 1, with a minuscule .270 OBA during that span. And while Oviedo’s ground-ball rate is at 41.8% during that period, he's been keeping the ball in the yard (7.3% HR/FB), which could be very important if the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field.
Oviedo has walked nearly five batters per nine innings during that stretch (4.93 BB/9). But he faces a Cubs team ranked outside the top 12 in BB/K ratio in home games. Oviedo's upside is huge if he limits his walks, as he's allowed four or fewer hits in four of his previous five starts.
Player prop: Bo Bichette Under 1.5 total bases vs. Yankees (-160 via DraftKings, bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
Perhaps the only good thing to come out of the New York Yankees’ season so far is Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young campaign. Cole leads the league in ERA (2.81), games started (31), innings pitched (192), and ERA+ (155).
Bo Bichette has faced him the most of any Toronto Blue Jays hitter in 2023 (36 at-bats), and he's slashing .194/.194/.333. Three of Bichette’s seven hits against Cole have gone for extra bases, but his power numbers have been down for quite some time now. He's posted a .533 OPS over the last 30 days. While his OPS is up to .815 over the previous seven days, we would not count on another multi-hit performance from Bichette to cash this wager against a pitcher of Cole’s caliber (he's logged four over 11 September contests).
This is only a three-star play, as Bichette entered Wednesday with the second-highest batting average against the Yankees among active players (minimum 200 plate appearances), according to Sportsnet Stats.
Thursday’s MLB game picks
Run line: Rays -1.5 vs. Angels (-114 via BetRivers) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Los Angeles Angels had lost six consecutive games before an 8-3 victory on Wednesday, including multi-run defeats in three of the last four. They seem to have mailed it in for the season after shutting down Shohei Ohtani with an oblique injury. Their offense was sputtering while averaging 2.2 runs per game over the previous six outings before an eight-run breakout on Wednesday.
The moneyline trends are definitely in Tampa Bay’s favor, with the team going 51-26 at home (up more than 10 units), while Los Angeles is 29-51 in its last 78 games (down over 23 units). But Tampa Bay has also covered the run line in 53.2% of its home games, while the Angels have covered in 46.1% of their contests overall, so we're opting for a better value while laying the -1.5 with the Rays. This is a four-star wager, as Rays righty Zach Eflin is on a two-start winning streak after beating a pair of 84-plus win teams in consecutive outings (Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners).
BetRivers is the only shop where one can back the Rays on the run line at cheaper than -115 odds.
MLB best bets made 9/21/2023 at 6:24 a.m. ET.
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