On Thursday, the run-day slate is lighter in MLB, but there are matchups spread throughout the afternoon and well into the night.
Our analysts pinpointed value in three of these nightly matchups, for a total of four picks. This includes a pair of player supports and a pair of side panels. We have two picks in Angels-Red Sox, where Los Angeles sends Shohei Ohtani to the mound to end his 14-game losing streak.
Here are our best bets from Thursday’s Major League Baseball Slate.
MLB Odds & Tips
Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Guardians
Jules Posner: Josh Naylor has been a bit of a mess lately but after a solid run at home against the Texas Rangers he gets to shoot against James Kaprieelian and Oakland’s shaky bullpen.
Naylor hits .375 at home against RHP with .188 ISO. Additionally, four of his 12 hits at home against RHP came for extra bases.
Kaprielian has struggled against lefties overall this season, but lefties are batting .303 against him in his street starts so far. Overall, left-handers hit .286 and hit at a .375 clip.
Additionally, the A’s bullpen has been one of the worst units in baseball for the past three weeks, where he has the highest FIP, ERA and sixth-highest batting average in the league over that span.
Naylor’s total base odds are +105 for over 1.5 total bases. If it stays at plus money, this should be good value for a hitter who is in a great position to break out. Naylor generally prefers to bat at home and based on his past streak he should have a chance to eclipse 1.5 bases overall Thursday night.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals
Kenny Ducey: On the one hand, Kris Bubic pitches this game, on the other hand, the Orioles can’t really hit left-handers. I think I’ll hold my nose and put my money on Kansas City.
Thing is, the royals really aren’t that bad. They’re hitting the ball decently enough and in the last two weeks they’ve achieved a 90 wRC+ – a below average mark but nothing catastrophic. They can’t quite match the Orioles’ offense, but Baltimore was unappealing against left-handers with a 25.8% strikeout rate and .639 OPS. It’s early days, but it seems to make sense that this team would prefer to hit right-handers considering some of their best hitters’ splits are in place.
Bubic also finished out the Orioles when he saw them last season, going 11 ⅓ innings and allowing just three earned runs with nine strikeouts. It’s not inconceivable to think he could limit the damage enough for this Royals offense to reach a struggling Jordan Lyles, whose incompetence closely rivals Bubic’s.
There’s a world where Bubic can win this game for the Royals and I don’t know if Kansas City priced right here at home.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
DJ James: Nick Pivetta has been perceptive lately. He has not allowed more than three runs in one operation since mid-April. Shohei Ohtani, on the other hand, gave up four runs in three innings of work on his last start and five in six innings on the previous start.
The advantage lies mainly in the offensive of the Red Sox. They have an MLB high of 134 wRC+ over the past month, compared to 108 for Los Angeles. Since May 25 (the start of the Angels’ losing streak), that number has fallen to 78 wRC+ and a team OBP of 0.278.
Given Pivetta’s ability to get deep into games during his hot spell, he should be able to keep this lineup in check. It will in turn undo any flaws in the Boston bullpen. Despite this, they have a relief of 3.71 xFIP, so they should be able to control the game after Pivetta has finished.
Bring the Red Sox to -125.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Anthony Dabbundo: Shohei Ohtani has struggled in his last two starts for the Angels. He has allowed nine runs in nine innings in matchups against the Blue Jays and Yankees. I think that drains his strikeout total in this Thursday night matchup.
Even when Ohtani gets hit hard, he still has knockout stuff to produce puffs and strikeouts. I know his strikeout rate has gone down a bit this season, but his stuff hasn’t fallen off at all.
When locating the fastball effectively, Ohtani is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. His Stuff+ metric is fourth among MLB starts, behind only Hunter Greene, Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole, according to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris.
The Red Sox are also a cheap matchup to produce strikeouts. Boston has the sixth-worst pursuit rate in the league and will swing at many out-of-zone spots. The Red Sox are also fifth in the swinging strike rate.
While the Red Sox are one of the more aggressive lineups in the league and swing early in counts, I actually think the Ohtani helps him get ahead in counts and use his breaking pitches to create late counts.
Our Action Labs Props overall has Ohtani at 7.7 Strikeouts and I will happily play o6.5 Ks at -120 or better.