In sports betting, I am a firm believer that not all wins are created equal. Sure, you do not get paid out extra if you pick a team that wins by 50 compared to two, but it still makes one feel better nonetheless when there was no doubt in the victory.
In yesterday’s column, we tipped the Baltimore Orioles moneyline as underdogs and discussed that Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means was becoming a household name with the start he was off to. Now, even more people are noticing Means’ fantastic start after his road no-hitter at Seattle yesterday. This is the second time a pitcher has allowed zero hits this season and was followed by controversy. Madison Bumgarner did not allow a hit in seven innings in a game against the Braves that was part of a doubleheader. However, that was not recognized as a no-hitter since it was a shortened game. Joel Sherman perfectly described the controversy surrounding Means’ no-hitter and why it will not be recognized as a perfect game.
MLB app has Means with a perfect game, but Haggerty reached on strike out/wild pitch (subsequently thrown out stealing). But base runner means no perfect game. It is a no-hitter thru 7IP.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 5, 2021
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: 41-28-2 (+8.76 units)
Astros-Yankees UNDER 7.5 runs (-114)
The New York Yankees are one of the most profitable teams to the under so far this year. The under has cashed in 19 of their 30 games and is 10-5 when they are home favorites. While the Yankees have averaged close to six runs per game over their last seven games entering Wednesday, having ace Gerrit Cole on the mound is one of the many reasons to like the under this afternoon.
Cole (4-1, 1.43 ERA) has anchored a pitching staff that ranks second in baseball with a 3.01 ERA. Among qualified starters, Cole ranks fourth in ERA, tied for second in wins, third with a 0.72 WHIP, and ninth in BAA (.178). Now, there is the added factor that he is facing his old team for the first time since signing with the Yankees, and you know Cole will be excited about the opportunity.
Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.38 ERA) has been reliable for his club this year. He is coming into this matchup off his best start of the season, where he threw seven shutout innings against the Rays and had a season-high nine strikeouts. McCullers has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and is 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees. New York’s bats have always seemed to struggle with McCullers’ curveball, and only one current Yankee is hitting better than .250 off McCullers in their career.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone tends to be very cautious in day games after night games, often resting some of his best bats so that he does not overuse them early in the season. Some key players are likely out of the lineup today, making it more likely that the under cashes.
Brewers-Phillies First Five Innings UNDER 3.5 runs (-132)
The Brewers and Phillies both have bullpens that rank in the bottom half of the league in ERA. Milwaukee’s ranks 17th with a 4.20 ERA entering Wednesday, while Philadelphia’s ranks 25th and has pitched to a 5.13 ERA. In just this series alone, Phillies relievers have allowed seven runs over 10.2 innings, letting the Brewers back into all three games after building early leads. With two starting pitchers capable of shutting down the opposition, the safest play is to take the bullpens out of the equation and play the first five innings total.
Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff (2-0, 1.80 ERA) looks for his sixth consecutive quality start tonight. He has excellent career numbers against Philadelphia, allowing just one earned run in 18 career innings against them. He may again face a Phillies lineup without Bryce Harper, who remains day-to-day with a wrist injury.
Speaking of injuries, the Brewers lineup is not the same without Christian Yelich, who was put back on the IL on Tuesday after having been back for just one game. That should allow Phillies starter Zack Wheeler (2-2, 3.49 ERA) to settle in and find his groove early. Wheeler has made five career starts against the Brewers and is 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA. He allowed four runs in the first inning in his last start against the Mets but battled back and threw six scoreless innings after that. With better defense behind him, Wheeler’s stat line would have looked just fine. Look for him to build off that momentum and do his part in keeping the scoring down early.
Los Angeles Angels ML (-140)
The Los Angeles Angels are reeling of late, entering this contest having lost five of their last six games. However, they are too talented to endure many losses in a bunch and will get right on “getaway day” against the Rays.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.25 ERA) allowed four runs in 3.1 innings in his last start against Seattle. He was undone by the long ball, surrendering three home runs. That should not be too much of an issue against a Rays team that ranks outside the top 20 in home runs. Heaney had allowed just three earned runs in the 17.2 innings before that start, so we have faith that his latest outing was more of a blip on the radar.
With how well the Rays have pitched this year, one has to take advantage of the opportunities they get without pitchers like Tyler Glasnow on the mound. A perfect opportunity is when the Rays resort to bullpen games as they will tonight after using Josh Fleming (1-3, 2.18 ERA) as an opener. Tampa Bay has used Fleming in four such instances, and the team is 1-3 in those games.
The Angels need some momentum before a big weekend series with the Dodgers. The Rays once again hit the road to start a series with Oakland after this game, so here is to hoping their minds are on the travel to their next destination instead of finishing this series with a sweep.
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