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Top MLB Betting Picks for Thursday, August 19th (2021)

by August 19, 2021
Brandon Woodruff

Those with futures bets riding on the National League Cy Young Award winner will be interested onlookers on Thursday. Three of the top four frontrunners for the award (based on DraftKings’ current odds) toe the rubber today, as Zack Wheeler (+175), Walker Buehler (+300), and Brandon Woodruff (+600) all look to add to their Cy Young resumes.

We focus on two of these pitchers in our top three daily picks and suggest that one of them may be in for a rougher outing than the oddsmakers predict.

Here are my MLB top betting plays for Thursday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)

View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>

YTD: 134-118-6 (+0.59 units)

Phillies-Diamondbacks OVER 8.5 runs (+100)

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (10-7, 2.56) leads a long list of qualified Cy Young candidates, in large part because he sits second behind only Corbin Burnes in WAR. Wheeler also ranks fifth in ERA, first with 187 strikeouts and seventh with a WHIP of 0.99. If there is anything to nitpick, it is that Wheeler has not been as sharp in his last seven starts, and his road numbers are worse across the board than are his numbers at home.

Wheeler has pitched to a 3.75 ERA in his last seven starts, including getting tagged for four earned runs by each of some of the league’s worst offenses like the Nationals, Marlins, and Cubs. Aside from his 11-strikeout gem two starts ago against the Mets, his punch-out totals in his other three previous starts (5, 5, and 6) are among his lowest of the season. In addition, Wheeler has a 3.10 ERA in nine road starts compared to a 2.25 ERA in 15 home starts, and his OBA, WHIP, and K:BB ratio are all significantly worse on the road.

Arizona has come on recently offensively for all of their struggles this year, scoring seven or more runs in three of their last eight games. They counter with Madison Bumgarner (6-7, 4.30), who has a 4.37 ERA and an OBA of .277 in his nine home starts. The red-hot Bryce Harper has taken him deep twice in 18 career at-bats, and the Phillies rank in the top-11 in batting average and OPS against lefties this season. The over is 3-0-1 in Philadelphia’s last four games against a left-handed starter.

The over is sure to be a contrarian play with names like Wheeler and Bumgarner on the mound, but we do not mind fading the public.

Marlins-Reds UNDER 7.5 runs (+105)

Though there is still a month and a half left in the regular season, the Cincinnati Reds’ playoff chances were dealt a massive blow with their recent series loss to the Cubs. Considering Chicago entered their series with Cincinnati having lost 11 straight games, losing two of three to them while trying to hunt down the second wild card spot has to be considered a disappointment.

The Reds’ offense was non-existent in their last two games of the series, totaling two runs and amassing 11 hits in their previous 18 innings. It is fair to wonder if the Reds are missing the bat of Jesse Winker more than expected, as he landed on the 10-day IL earlier this week with an intercostal strain.

Tonight’s pitching matchup is between Miami’s Zach Thompson (2-5, 2.91) and Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo (6-12, 4.51). Thompson has allowed three or fewer earned runs in ten of his 11 starts. Castillo has pitched to a 3.72 ERA in 12 home starts and has allowed just two earned runs in his last 19 innings at home.

The under is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings between these teams and is 7-2 in their previous nine meetings in Cincinnati. Thus, we will follow these trends and are not scared off by the low total.

Milwaukee Brewers -1.5 runs (-125)

The St. Louis Cardinals entered this current series against the Milwaukee Brewers on a six-game winning streak and had won eight of nine games. However, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta (along with several relievers) have completely silenced the Cardinals bats, allowing four earned runs and 12 hits in the last two victories.

Brandon Woodruff (7-6, 2.18) is likely licking his chops to get in on the action and help finish the sweep. Woodruff has held current Cardinals hitters to a .178 OBA and .300 slugging percentage in 95 combined plate appearances. He has been especially tough on St. Louis’s two biggest bats, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, holding them to a combined four hits in 25 at-bats with no extra-base hits. Woodruff has not earned a win in any of his last seven starts. However, he allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out ten Cardinals in a no-decision on May 12th, and if he repeats that performance, odds are he should get back to the win column once again.

Look for the Brewers to feast on Cardinals starter Jon Lester (4-6, 5.32), as Milwaukee is 6-2 in their last eight road games against a left-handed starter. Lester has been hit hard by the Brewers in his career, allowing an OBA of .328 in 143 combined plate appearances. He has kept the ball in the yard all that time, but Milwaukee’s relentless approach should knock him out of the game sooner rather than later.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Baseball, Picks