Free MLB Picks: Thursday Brings Two Underdog Locks

Willie Bee

Thursday, June 16, 2016 12:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 16, 2016 12:52 PM UTC

The weekend is nearly upon us, and we're looking for underdogs on the MLB odds to fatten our bankrolls. Join us for a couple of game previews and free MLB picks on a Thirsty Thursday.

Southpaws Duel To End Series At The Trop
Seattle to Tampa, and vice-versa, is one of the longest flights MLB teams have to make in a given season, and after the Mariners and Rays wrap up their 3-game set on Thursday, neither will have to worry about making it again this year.

That is unless the unthinkable happens and both squads make it to the postseason, which seems unlikely at this point in time. The 1:10 PM (ET) contest at Tropicana Field has a double-lefty matchup is in store on the mound with James Paxton up next for Seattle while Tampa Bay sends rookie Blake Snell to this hill for his second major league appearance. MLB odds are at least respectful of Snell despite his inexperience, the moneyline first going out with the Rays at -113 before it tightened closer to a pick 'em.

The Mariners are still very much in the hunt for October baseball, but have fallen on hard times after dropping the first two of this series to run their skid to four games. Tampa Bay's two wins have been on the 1-run variety and the Rays are looking to avenge being swept in Seattle in early-May.

Called up to replace the injured Felix Hernandez, Paxton had a rough initial outing June 1 but has since settled down with two strong assignments. He held the Rangers scoreless into the seventh last Saturday before leaving with a no-decision in a 2-1 Mariners loss. Paxton has whiffed 24 batters in his 16 innings, walking just four in the process, and beat the Rays in Seattle the only time he has faced them (6 IP, 1 ER).

Snell made his major league debut nearly two months ago in New York against the Yankees, and was impressive with five innings of 1-run baseball while striking out six. A 1st-round pick out of high school in 2011, the lanky lefthander made a dozen starts at Triple-Durham this season, piling up 90 strikeouts in 63 innings while pitching to a 3.29 ERA.

Ron Kulpa is your plate umpire, and the 19-year veteran brings a 6-4-1 O/U/P mark on the totals side of the coin in 2016. Home teams are 6-5, 4-3 when favored on the baseball betting board. I'm betting on that last stat closing to a level 4-4 with my free MLB pick on Paxton and the M's.

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My pick: Mariners -102
Best Line Offered:  at Pinnacle


Tigers, Royals Open Long Weekend Set In KC
Winners of five straight, the Kansas City Royals look to keep the good times rolling Thursday when they open a crucial 4-game set against the Detroit Tigers. The opener has an 8:10 PM (ET) first pitch at Kauffman Stadium where Justin Verlander gets the call for the Tigers opposite KC's Danny Duffy. A quick check of SBR's live MLB odds finds Detroit in the -115 to -120 range.

They've been playing each other since 1969, and only two games separate the teams in their rivalry with the Tigers having a 325-323 advantage. Kansas City is up 2-1 in the only series played so far in 2016, that set also taking place at Kauffman, giving the Royals a 6-3 edge in the last nine on this diamond.

Neither Verlander nor Duffy made a start in the previous get-together, though Duffy did have one ill-fated relief appearance. Verlander has looked pretty go for the last five weeks or so, helping the Tigers to wins in four of his last five assignments. Thursday will be his 22nd career start in KC, Verlander going 12-5 along the way with a nifty 2.87 ERA (141 IP).

Duffy spent the first six weeks in the Kansas City bullpen before finding his way into the rotation in mid-May. The Royals have won five of his six starts, the 27-year-old southpaw coming off a dandy performance at the White Sox last Saturday (6 IP, 0 R, 10 K).

It's going to top 100º today in Kansas City, and still be in the upper-90s early in the game, so fatigue for both pitchers could be a factor. I just like the way the Royals are playing and Duffy is pitching.

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My pick: Royals +109
Best Line Offered:  at Bookmaker
Season Record: 30-26 (+5.45)

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