Bats are heating up (and maybe the balls, too?) and while it is early, the separation we talked about last time is real and continuing. I count roughly 13 teams that are already playing for next year, leaving 17 to fight for the playoffs. Is that good or bad for the sport? I'm not sure, but I do know it does offer us opportunities on the betting front. We have an excellent slate of games Thursday, so let's get to it.
All lines from FanDuel.
Mariners at Orioles - 1st 5 innings over 5.5 (+132)
Sure, I'll take plus money to go against these two starters. Seattle's Chris Flexen has been brutal this year with a 4.47 ERA and 1.41 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. In limited ABs, Flexen has also been lit up by the current Orioles. Jordan Lyles has been equally bad this year with his 4.26 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. These teams have combined for 10 and 11 runs in the first two games, and I see no reason why the offenses won't continue to put up big numbers.
Padres at Brewers - 1st 5 innings under 4.5 (-114)
Not only are starters Sean Manaea and Adrian Houser off to decent starts with good numbers to back them, both have fared well against the scheduled lineups Thursday. Manaea enters with a 4.02 ERA but a 1.11 WHIP with his form rounding into shape after two rough starts skewed his numbers a bit. In 56 ABs, Houser has held the current Padres lineup to a .161 team average a .447 OPS. Neither of these teams are lighting up the scoreboard and both had travel days Wednesday. Sluggish bats plus solid starters equals a first five under at this good price.
Braves at Rockies (+124)
The Colorado bats are red hot and have feasted on Braves starter Ian Anderson. Rockies starter Austin Gomber has been a disappointment this year, but he has held this current Braves lineup in check. On the surface, this appears to be a mismatch, but these teams are a lot closer than this price indicates. The Braves are also off a shutout in the desert and are now traveling to altitude. The natural post-shutout letdown plus the hot Colorado bats makes this an easy money line recommendation of the Rockies at plus money.
Mets (+150) at Dodgers
This is a recommendation based on both value and momentum. Let's start with value. These teams are similar with the two bet records in the National League (35-17 and 33-17, respectively) and the two starting pitchers (Taijuan Walker for N.Y. and Tony Gonsolin for L.A.) are undefeated. However, the difference comes with history where Walker has fared surprisingly well against the current Dodgers lineup (.267 BA, .736 OPS) while Gonsolin has struggled to keep the ball in the yard against these Mets, with Eduardo Escobar doing much of the damage. Regarding momentum, the Dodgers come in fresh off a three-game home sweep at the hands of the lowly Pirates while the red-hot Mets come in on a six-game winning streak. I'm not one to get in front of streaks, and when we get this much plus value, I'll jump all over the opportunity.