The MLB season is nearly two months old and I thought now would be a great time to bring back the MLB Props article for reading consumption. Let's face it, we've all heard about how tough the first month or so of the season is to handicap and how "experts" are always preaching patience. Now that we are set to hit the two-month mark, teams are starting to take shape, and as handicappers we should be seeing trends and patterns that could help us profit.
So far this season we've learned a few things that we may not have expected
before the season began. This includes the Astros being better than
advertised, the Yankees being ahead of schedule on their "rebuild", the
World Series hangover being a real thing
(which I touched based on before the season began)
, the Giants not having a reliable hitting lineup, pitching rotation or
bullpen, and lastly my beloved Jays having the worst injury luck I've seen
in a long time.
For this sake of this article, I am going to change it up from last year's format to give you more variety. Last year I was fairly successful with my First 5 Inning line bets, and while I will continue with those, I'll throw in some First Inning Run props, Total First Inning Hits/Runs/Error props and certain player props when the right matchup falls on my lap.
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Thursday's MLB slate is top heavy with six matinees to deal with. Fortunately for us, there are also six night games, which can be just as profitable if you do your homework. As of writing this, the Favorite of the day is currently the Chicago Cubs (-198), who are hosting the Cincinnati Reds (+169) at 2:20p.m. EST. Jon Lester takes the bump and will be opposed by Amir Garrett. The Dodgers are also heavy favorites tonight , checking in at (-196) as they host the slumping Miami Marlins (+168). All odds are courtesy of Bovada .
Boston Red Sox vs Oakland Athletics
It hasn't been the smoothest transition to life after David Ortiz for the Red Sox, which means the preseason AL East favorites have their work cut out for them to reach their lofty preseason expectations. Sure, the Red Sox are three games over .500 (21-18) and are ranked in the Top 5 in hits per game (9.2), average (.267) and OBP (.338), but this once-potent lineup has struggled mightily at times when a big hit is needed. The Red Sox rank in the bottom half of the league in three categories that are crucial to long-term success. They average only 4.5 runs per game, which ranks them 18th, their slugging percentage is just okay at .409, which places them 17 th. However, it's the home run category that has fans worried. The Sox have knocked just 34 balls out of the park, which sits them next to last.
On the other hand, the A's had very little expectations coming into the season and have so far lived down to them. The offense struggles to score runs, averaging just 3.9 per game, which ranks them 26th overall. They average just fewer than eight hits per game and have a Bottom 5 batting average (.232) and OBP (.304). Both those stats rank 26th out of 30 teams. I get the fact that they play in a massive park that is more pitcher friendly than anything, but they've also played more road games than home games, in smaller parks like Texas, Minnesota and Houston. You'd think they'd enjoy an offensive breakout once in a while.
Because of these struggling offenses, I feel as if the play in this game is to take the full game "under" the posted total of 9(-115). But since this is a props article, I also recommend taking the NO run in First Inning prop, which you can get at -130.
The starting pitching matchup doesn't exude amazing ability by any stretch of the imagination, but I expect the Red Sox starter, Hector Velazquez, to have just enough stuff to get out of the first inning unscathed. Velazquez has been solid this year for Triple-A Pawtucket, boasting a 1.55 ERA. If he can control his emotions and keep his fastball down, I have no reason to believe that the A's offense will touch him up for any early runs.
On the bump for the A's is Sonny Gray, who is making his fourth start of
the season after beginning the season on the DL. He has progressed nicely
over his first three starts. And with the massive field of Oakland-Alameda
County Stadium (such a dumb name) behind him, Gray should be able to escape
the first without giving the Red Sox anything.
Pick:NO Run First Inning -115
Chicago White Sox vs Seattle Mariners
It shouldn't come as a surprise to you to see these two clubs struggling early on in the season. The White Sox went into rebuild mode the moment they traded away their ace, Chris Sale. That trade forced Jose Quintana into the assumed "ace" role, and the 28-year old righty has struggled to a 2-5 record with a 4.38 ERA. He won't be taking the mound tonight, but if you think those numbers are bad wait until you see Dylan Covey's stats. Covey is 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP. He's walked 13 batters in just over 29 innings while striking out 20. He is coming off a mediocre outing against San Diego, and he lasted just 4 1/3 innings. Any pitcher can make the Padres look like a Double-A team, so this is definitely a step up in class for the rookie right hander. On the flip side, taking the bump for the Mariners is Sam Gaviglio, who is making his first major league start. Gaviglio has featured just once so far this season, allowing one run on two hits in two innings against the Blue Jays.
These pitchers aren't going to strike fear into the eyes of these two veteran-led ball clubs, and I expect there to be fireworks early and often in Seattle. The White Sox have scored 40 runs during their last seven games despite losing five of those games. The M's have scored 16 runs over their last three games against pitchers who are much better than tonight's opponent.
Both these teams have stats working for and against them in tonight's game. For example, the Mariners are solid at making contact and getting on base, but they have also been terrible on the defensive side of things, owning a 4.64 ERA and giving up 57 home runs. Because of that, there is no reason to believe both teams won't hit the cover off the ball tonight.
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