Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Thursday's Best Bet

Thursday MLB Betting Preview (10:10 p.m. ET)
Philadelphia vs San Francisco

The NL Wild Card race is so bunched up that every night there are a handful of games of critical importance in that race, and as the Phillies and Giants start a four-game set tonight, a bad stretch for the Giants this weekend would virtually eliminate them from the conversation. They are already 3.5 games back of the final spot, have five teams ahead of them – including Philadelphia – to surpass to get one of those spots, and falling further behind would be a big mountain to climb.

Philly needs these games just as badly to avoid falling further in the race, as dropping two of three in Arizona was not a great way to start the road trip. A 3-5 SU record in their last eight games is bordering on cause for concern in Phillies nation, but having arguably their best pitcher in Aaron Nola on the hill to try and right the ship is a positive sign. It won't be easy up against Madison Bumgarner who has seen his team win seven of his past eight starts.

MLB Odds: Philadelphia (-113) vs San Francisco (+103); Total set at 7.5

San Francisco has won seven of Bumgarner's last eight starts, but a good chunk of them have not been easy. The Giants have won his last four outings by just a single run, and considering the average runs scored in those outings comes in at 9.5, it's not like Bumgarner has been had a dominant hand in those outcomes.

Yes, there was a nine-inning effort against the Mets, and his five runs allowed in five innings pitched in Colorado last time out does get a bit of an asterisk considering it was at Coors Field, but the days of Bumgarner looking like the 2013-14 version of himself are seemingly long gone. Opponents have averaged 4.3 runs against him in his 24 starts this year, and even in today's game with whether or not the ball is 'juiced' being a heavy topic of conversation, a 14-7-3 O/U record for San Fran in Bumgarner's starts this year tends to say it all.

Furthermore, while Bumgarner hasn't faced the Phillies since August of 2017, his last three starts against Philly have all ended up in defeat for he and his teammates. Obviously both teams are decidedly different two years later, but you can easily argue on top of that that the Phillies are different yes, but they are a lot better as well, and that definitely poses some problems for this Giants team.

The euphoria of San Francisco's incredible July run this year has worn off as they've dropped four in a row and six of seven to begin August – a run that started with a 10-2 loss in Philly last week – all that talk about blindly backing the Giants and that they get no respect from oddsmakers we heard during that July run has faded away entirely.

Heck, even the opening move on this game was against the Giants as this game opened up at basically a pick'em in the -105 each way range. Current betting percentages show that about 70% of the money has already come in on the Phillies to force that move, and it is easy to see why Philadelphia has grabbed that early support.

Contrary to popular belief during San Fran's great run last month, they were actually getting heavily overvalued thanks to recent form and were still priced as underdogs – hence the “no respect motif given they were plus-money all the time still – and we are just now getting back to where true prices should be on Giants games. If this losing keeps up for San Fran, it won't be long before management really wishes they had a mulligan on whether or not to sell some of their big names at the trade deadline, and this season could end up going into the tank in a heartbeat for the Giants.

So even with the majority of bettors backing the Phillies tonight, it's a move and play I've got to side with, as offensively they are the better team that should have minimal issue putting up runs on a guy like Bumgarner who's allowed at least three in each of his last three starts. This absurd luck the Giants have had winning one-run games lately is going to end sooner rather than later, and with Nola as the counterpart on the hill – Philly has won four in a row and seven of his last eight starts overall – it's the Phillies who open up this series with a victory.

Best Bet: Philadelphia ML

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