On Thursday, we have a slate of 12 MLB games being played. With a large slate of games, there are many underdog betting opportunities available. Despite the number of games on Thursday, there are only a few good bets on Thursday’s card. As the Sportsbook Review “king of the underdogs”, I have two underdogs that I like in the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros
Thursday, May 13, 2021 – 08:10 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park
- Texas Rangers (18-20)
- Houston Astros (20-17)
Why I Like Texas
On Thursday night, the Houston Astros host the Texas Rangers. The AL West is a wide-open division this season, as the Houston Astros are only 2.5 games behind the first place Oakland Athletics. While the Texas Rangers were expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball this year, they are surprisingly only 2.5 games behind the Astros.
The Rangers are unlikely to win the division, but they are likely to win many more games as large underdogs. If you had blindly bet on the Rangers for every game this season, you would be up 5.24 units for a +13.8% return on investment which is the third best in baseball. While I do not advocate blindly betting any trends, the betting market still hasn’t corrected itself and Texas continues to be a good sports betting play.
One opportunity for the Rangers is with Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier. As a rookie last year, Javier had a 5-2 record with a 3.48 ERA. This season Javier has a 3-1 record with a 2.90 ERA. On paper he looks like a solid pitcher, but beneath the surface he is just average.
In 2020 and in 2021, Javier has an xFIP that is more than one run greater than his ERA. Additionally, opposing batters have a BABIP of only .235 against Javier this season. In plain English, Javier’s “nerd stats” in comparison to his more traditional stats show that he has benefitted more by good luck than by skill.
After scoring the second fewest runs in 2020, the Texas Rangers now average 4.24 runs per game which is only .11 runs less than the league average. They have a few solid hitters in their lineup like OF Joey Gallo and SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa. At +180 on the MLB betting lines, the Rangers are too good to pass up on Thursday night.
Miami Marlins vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 09:40 PM EDT at Chase Field
- Miami Marlins (16-20)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (17-20)
Why I Like Arizona
The Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks are evenly matched for Thursday’s game. Both the Marlins and the Diamondbacks have nearly identical records but different strengths. The Marlins have a few strong hitters, but a weak lineup. The Diamondbacks have lousy pitching but a few strong hitters. At +112 at online sportsbooks, I like the Diamondbacks as they should be at -105 odds according to my model.
The biggest reason why the Marlins are favored against the D-Backs on the road is because of their starting pitcher Trevor Rogers. In seven starts Rogers has a 4-2 record with a 1.89 ERA. However, Rogers also has an xFIP of 3.44 which while impressive is about one and a half runs higher than his ERA. With only 14 career starts under Rogers’ belt, he may have peaked in performance. According to FanGraphs ZIPS projections, he should have an ERA around 4.04 over the course of a full season.
Opposing Rogers is a formidable Arizona lineup. Currently the Diamondbacks are averaging 4.86 runs per game, which is the 6th most in the league. This is because several of their players are having better years than projected.
Catcher Carson Kelly is the most impressive example as up until this season Kelly was a below average offensive player. Now Kelly has a .333 batting average, .481 on-base percentage, six home runs, and a wRC+ of 191. With Kelly’s emergence the Arizona Diamondbacks are quietly becoming one of the league’s better MLB Picks this season.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.