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MLB Picks For Thursday, Aug. 4
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Oakland A’s At LA Angels
Paul Blackburn has been one of my horses this year, so if you give me +111 here against the Angels, I’ve got to take it. The Angels have had the absolute worst offense in baseball since July and not by a small margin. Their 65 wRC+ is apocalyptically bad. I’m not usually big on monthly splits but since that basically coincides with Mike Trout’s absence, I think there’s real signal and this is a bottom-five offense currently. Between Mickey Moniak, Kurt Suzuki, Andrew Velasquez and Magneuris Sierra, I’m seeing at least four players who have no business starting MLB games in the projected Angels lineup.
As bad as the A’s are, that means they likely have a better lineup here and surely a better pitcher. Janson Junk has an 80-grade name (especially for a pitcher) but I have him projected barely above replacement-level, so the A’s should be favored here by my numbers.
Current best price: A’s
Houston Astros At Cleveland Guardians
I think I’ve been the low man on Justin Verlander all year so I’m a but stunned to find myself backing him. Not sure that has happened even once this year and I’ve definitely faded several times, to very poor results. But he just keeps churning out clean seven-inning starts and despite the lackluster called strike+whiff (26.4%) and chase rate (31.2%) numbers, Statcast definitely believes, crediting him with a 2.94 xERA.
The most juicy matchup for the Stros surely comes on the other side of the ball. Adding Trey Mancini and Christian Vazquez has turned a great offense into a borderline terrifying one. And they get a dreamy matchup here against Zach Plesac, whose fastball velocity has dipped to 91.7 the past few starts. That has coincided with getting rocked for a 6.59 ERA (5.02 FIP/4.02 xFIP) and the Astros are not the team you want to face with a subpar heater as they rank third in MLB against the four-seamer.
The market has moved with this one and I think there’s minimal value left around -190 so I wouldn’t touch it unless it dips back to -180 or so.
Current best price: Astros
Chicago White Sox At Texas Rangers
Stop the presses as the White Sox may have their full healthy lineup out there. Luis Robert looks likely to return from a head injury. The team activated him during the last series but didn’t play him, so it seems almost certain he’ll return here. Eloy Jimenez has also returned, so guys like AJ Pollock and Josh Harrison have been relegated to the bottom of the lineup where they belong, and same for guys like Adam Engel to the bench.
Despite the injuries, the White Sox have still crushed lefties to the tune of a 120 wRC+ (third in MLB) and should perform even better now. They get fresh meat here in call-up Cole Ragans, who looks like a borderline MLB starter. The projections are split with ZiPS not believing at all (5.38 ERA) while Steamer definitely thinks he’s at least playable (4.48 ERA). If you assume he’s somewhere in the middle, that’s a pretty sizable edge for the White Sox with Johnny Cueto on the mound and the offense should be much better as well. Texas has hit right-handed pitching poorly with a 94 wRC+.
The market moved with me but there’s still room to play this up to -135.
Current best price: White Sox
Boston Red Sox At Kansas City Royals
Nick Pivetta has had a pretty vexing season, with a pretty long stretch of complete dominance bookended by stretches of awfulness. He’s currently mired in the latter, with his fastball velocity bouncing around. Even if he’s only a 4.5 ERA pitcher, that’s still above the talent level of Kris Bubic, though. And the Red Sox have also gotten healthier recently with Rafael Devers returning to the lineup. Bubic’s only real plus weapon is his changeup and Boston has mashed changeups with the seventh-best production against them in MLB this season.
Once again, I got -125 on a line that’s moving up, but once again, I still like a play on Boston up to -145, which is still widely available at the time of writing.
Current best price: Red Sox
What to know about using MLB Picks
Generally, when looking over these MLB lines and breakdowns, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, it’s a long season. There will be hot and cold streaks. Swings of 20+ units will happen. While I’ve had multiple winning seasons, there’s no guarantee I’ll come out ahead this year or any other. Always bet responsibly, and always line shop using our MLB page to find the best lines available at legal sportsbooks in your state. That will give you the best chance of turning a profit.
- MLB futures bets from TheLines writers Eli Hershkovich and Mo Nuwwarah
Furthermore, note that because of the process I’ll be using (attacking overnight markets), lines may shift significantly by the time you read this if you’re checking it out on game day. Hopefully the lines have moved in my favor, and if that’s the case – use your best judgment as to whether you still think the bet is as good as the current line.
I’ll base my plays heavily on starting pitchers, like most any MLB bettor. If you want to learn more about baseball so you can do your own handicapping, start with these resources breaking down a variety of useful metrics:
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