5 picks for Thursday, including Phillies vs. Nationals, Cardinals vs Cubs

Thursday’s MLB slate is packed with action throughout the day, starting with the Brewers vs. Pirates including a range of games from afternoon to evening.

Our analysts picked four of those games, including that first game mentioned above of the day, as well as the first game of Cubs vs.

Here are our top five bets from Thursday’s Major League Baseball roster.

MLB Odds and Choices

Brewers vs. pirates

pick or pick
Under 8 (-105)
the book
BetMGM
jugs
Brandon Woodruff vs Zach Thompson
the first show
12:35 PM ET

Tony Sartori: After dropping each of the first two games of the series, The Brewers will look for right-handed Brandon Woodruff to break the spell. Through 15 starts this season, Woodruff is 9-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

On top of these excellent totals for the season, Woodruff has been in great shape lately. Over his past nine starts, Woodruff is 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.

Seven or fewer runs were scored in five of those nine matches (56%). This great form must continue against Pittsburgh.

In his two games against the Buccaneers this season, Woodruff was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Woodruff’s excellent scales indicate that regression is not a problem. This season, the Brewers’ right-handers feature .274 xwOBA, .208 xBA and .330 xSLG.

Zach Thompson is set to take the Pittsburgh hill in this game. With 18 on-field appearances this season, Thompson is 3-8 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.

While these numbers are certainly not something to brag about, they are greatly inflated by his past two poor performances. Prior to Thompson’s last two starts, he had allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his past nine starts.

Two of those three starts came against Milwaukee, and they both went below total. However, Thompson may not get much support in this game as he is set to face right-handed pirate Brandon Woodruff.

We are rolling in this game. Woodruff is at the top of his game, making him one of the best bowlers in the league.

Meanwhile, Thompson outnumbered Milwaukee. Both formations are below average, which makes me think less is worth playing.


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Cubs vs. Game Cardinals 1

pick or pick
More than 7.5 (-110)
the book
Vandel
jugs
Marcus Strowman vs. Miles Micholas
the first show
1:15 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Marcus Strowman has only been average this season with xERA at 4.19. The problem is that the allowed swipe rate is 44.3% and the average exit speed allowed is 90.3 mph. Both are in the 11th percentile among MLB pitchers.

He faced St. Louis once earlier this season, and things didn’t go so well. He gave up 10 hits and nine winning runs in just four innings. St. Louis is also a top 10 offense in baseball in terms of WOBA and WRC+ against a right-hand throw.

Miles Micholas has only a slightly better xERA at 3.68. Mikulas has a four-pitch arsenal of fast ball, bright ball, slider, and curveball. This wouldn’t really work against the Cubs, who have a combined play value of +50.9 against those four pitches. He has also faced Chicago twice this season, giving up 12 combined hits and five winning runs in 11 innings.

Also, the Cubs replaced their top three faithfuls on deadline, so I’ve now predicted them as one of the worst in the National League without David Robertson, Scott Evros or Michal Givens.

I have an expected 8.7 times for this game, so I like the value over 7.5 times over at -110 and will play it until -123.


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Citizens vs. Phyllis

pick or pick
Under 9 (-110)
the book
kings
jugs
Paulo Espino vs. Noah Sendergaard
the first show
7:05 PM ET

Anthony Dapondo: Paolo Espino wasn’t a superstar to start with, but he was exactly the kind of middle-rounder that shooting-deprived citizens would need. He doesn’t have dominant or even average things, but the right-handed has demonstrated elite leadership and a walking rate of only 4.7% per turn.

Espino faces Philadelphia on Thursday and Noah Sendergaard, which is definitely not the bowler he was before Tommy John’s surgery. His sprint pace may be low and Stuff+’s metrics are below average, but he’s shown elite leadership this season. Syndergaard has a deep arsenal to balance the inexperienced National League and quite frankly.

The Phillies are likely to contend for the top spot and their high-powered Bulls game has seen dramatic improvements in the past two months to be one of the top five wrestlers in the league in the period. When you introduce midfield defensive upgrades with Jan Segura back and quarterback with Brandon Marsh, I love that it’s under the main number nine.

Espino and Sundergaard won’t beat these lineups, but both teams will swing their way to plenty of teams with above-average chase rates. I was playing under 9 at -115 or better.


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Astros vs Guardians

pick or pick
Astros -1.5 (-115)
the book
kings
jugs
Justin Verlander vs Zack Plisack
the first show
7:10 PM ET

Jules Posner: After the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners swept back-to-back from the All-Star break, the Astros proceeded to sweep the Oakland Athletics, taking three of the four Mariners, then losing a series at home to the Boston Red Sox. The Astros are having a strange second run to say the least.

However, they take a record 34-21 all the way to Cleveland where they face the Guardians who continue to fight for the supplement competition. The Astros seem to get used to finding other gear when teams play in a qualifying match and the Guardians should know about that.

Justin Verlander starts the Astros. While his 1.72 road ERA beats the 3.63 road FIP, he posted a 2.28 ERA against teams of 0.500 or better. Additionally, he posted a 1.64 ERA against teams of 0.500 or better in six starts.

His opponent, Zach Plessak, has also been stingy against .500 or better teams at home this season, scoring 2.55 ERA. However, he only had three such starts. Additionally, a contact-oriented bowler facing the Astros lineup that’s prone to making strong contact doesn’t look ideal.

The Astros’ money streak is in the -200 range, so the only true value will be in their running streak. At the time of writing, their running line is -1.5 at -115.


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Astros vs Guardians

pick or pick
Astros -1.5 (-115)
the book
kings
jugs
Justin Verlander vs Zack Plisack
the first show
7:10 PM ET

Will Burr: Justin Verlander continues to win. The 39-year-old has re-established himself as one of baseball’s top shooters and has won six straight decisions.

As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, so I will continue to support Verlander as the Astros are 15-4 in their prime this season. Conversely, the Guardians are 7-12 in their early Zach Plesac.

Verlander is at 1.81 ERA this season and although he has been a bit lucky (2.94 xERA), there is no denying the fact that he has been very, very good. He’s gone at least six rounds in six straight and hasn’t given up more than one winning since June 18.

The Guardians just got two out of three Diamondbacks and scored seven runs on Wednesday, so the bats may have a bit of momentum, but Verlander has made a good start in 15 of his 19 games this season and closed out nearly every offense he’s faced. There is no reason to expect this trend to stop in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the Astros lost two of three to the Red Sox, but captured Trey Mancini on the trade deadline to give an extra boost to attack. Mancini made two go-tos on his Houston debut as the Astros scored six goals on Wednesday and will look to build on that against Plissac and the Guardians.

Plesac hasn’t gotten off to a good start since July 4th and has given up 10 wins over the past 10 2/3 rounds (three starts). It’s at 4.33 ERA, but 5.52 xERA suggests things could be worse.

The right-hander went 0-4 with a 5.84 ERA in July and he’s been really struggling lately. There’s not much to suggest Plesak will have success against the Astros, so until proven otherwise, he’s a candidate worthy of fading out.

If you want to take the Astros on the money streak, go ahead. However, if you want less juice, there is a value to take on the running line. The run line opened at -115, and I’m going to run it until -125.


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