Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

Games to Watch - Thursday

With the first week of baseball complete, the betting public and oddsmakers are coming up with conclusions.

Some of these conclusions are correct, but other conclusions are being made prematurely. Even though this is a shortened season, there is still plenty to time for underachieving teams to catch up in the standings.

One of those underachieving teams is the Boston Red Sox. While the Red Sox are rebuilding since the Mookie Betts trade, it is surprising that they are not a winning baseball team. Another thing that has surprised me so far is that I think the run totals have been set too long. 

For Thursday, I'm focusing on Boston against the N.Y. Mets and an National League West matchup from Arizona between the L.A. Dodgers and Diamondbacks. 

Red Sox at Mets
Betting Picks & Predictions

Time: 7:10 p.m. ET

Red Sox at Mets Odds

  • Boston Red Sox (+143)
  • New York Mets (-153)
  • Run Total 9 (Over -120, Under +100)

 Probable Pitchers (2020 Records)

  • Martin Perez LHP (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
  • Steven Matz LHP (0-0, 1.50 ERA) 

For the last three nights, the New York Mets have played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and Citi Field. Thursday's game at Citi Field is the final game between these two teams for the regular season. During this shortened season, it has become apparent that this years Red Sox team is less competitive than a typical Red Sox team.

Since trading away the second-best player in Baseball in Mookie Betts, the Red Sox are a mix of veteran sluggers, and inexperienced low-quality pitchers. Despite the grim prospects for the Red Sox franchise, I believe that this year’s team would be a .500 team or better in most other divisions in baseball. It is for this reason that I believe that the moneyline odds of +143 for the Red Sox for Thursday's contest is a bargain.
When looking at the starting lineups for both teams, you would have a hard time arguing that the Red Sox are worse than the Mets. Currently the Red Sox are averaging 5.2 runs per game which is 1.2 more runs per game on average than the Mets. Over the course of a full season at an average ballpark, my model projects that projected lineup for the Mets would average 5.41 runs per game. For the Red Sox, my model projects that Thursday's projected lineup would generate 5.25 runs per game.

This is because the Mets have a more well-rounded lineup than the Red Sox. While the Mets have a more well-rounded lineup, the Red Sox have more dangerous offensive weapons.

The Red Sox lineup is anchored by J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts. With these players batting second, third, and fourth in the Red Sox lineup, there is no way the Mets can pitch around any of these players. That is why I like the Red Sox lineup much more than the Mets lineup.
For this starting pitching matchup, the Mets have a slight edge. For the Mets, they are using Starting Pitcher Steven Matz who is 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA, and a 3.36 FIP in one start. While Matz is not a bad pitcher, he is not nearly as good as he appears as FanGraphs is projecting Matz to have a 4.36 ERA when the season is over. Opposing Matz is Red Sox Starting Pitcher Martin Perez.

In Perez’s first start this season, he did not perform well. However, that was only one start and FanGraphs is projecting Perez to have a 4.67 FIP when the season ends. With two starting pitchers virtually identical to each other, I do not see how the Mets are going to win. That is why I am backing the Red Sox lineup against the Mets by betting on the Red Sox as +143 moneyline underdogs. 

Boston at New York
MLB Best Bets & Predictions

Best Bet:
Boston Red Sox Moneyline +143  - Bet Boston at BetMGM
Final Score Prediction:
Boston Red Sox 6, New York Mets 5

Los Angeles at Arizona
Betting Picks & Prediction

Time: 9:40 p.m. ET

Dodgers at Diamondbacks Odds

  • Los Angeles Dodgers (-145)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+135)
  • Run Total 9.5 (Over +100, Under -120)

 Probable Pitchers (2019 Records)

  • Ross Stripling RHP (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
  • Robbie Ray LHP (0-1, 7.36 ERA) 

Thursday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks is projected to result in a Dodgers victory. I agree with that projection as the Dodgers are the best team in the National League and the struggling Diamondbacks are a .500 team at best. Despite the moneyline odds being efficiently set, the run total has been set too low at 9.5 runs. The Dodgers are one of the best scoring teams in the league, while the Diamondbacks offense has gotten off to a rough start. With both teams playing each other, I am betting that over 9.5 runs will be scored at even money odds.
The Dodgers lineup is well-rounded and full of dangerous offensive weapons. At any second of the game, any player could have an extra base hit or get on base. The Dodgers lineup led by Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts is currently averaging 5.40 runs per game this season. Despite the Dodgers doing very well offensively, we have yet to see the best from this lineup. I believe that when the season is over, the Dodgers will average at least six runs per game.

While the Dodgers lineup is doing well, the Diamondbacks are one of the worst scoring teams in the league. They are currently averaging only 2.6 runs per game which is tied for the second lowest average in the league. I believe that the Diamondbacks scoring problems are temporary as my model predicts eight of the nine starting position players to perform average or above-average offensively this season.
In my opinion, the only thing that could stop the run total from going over 9.5 is the starting pitching for both teams. The Dodgers are using Starting Pitcher Ross Stripling who is primarily a relief pitcher. While Stripling pitched seven innings in his last start giving up only one earned run, I believe that start was an outlier. I expect Stripling to pitch five innings in this game giving up two earned runs. The Dodgers bullpen is a weak spot for them as a team and I have a hard time seeing how the Diamondbacks cannot take advantage of them.

The starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks Robbie Ray had a rough outing in his last start pitching only 3.2 innings giving up three earned runs. Against the loaded Dodgers lineup, I have a hard time seeing Ray doing much better and that is primary reason why I am betting that over 9.5 runs will be scored at even money odds. 

Los Angeles at Arizona
MLB Best Bet & Predictions

Best Bet:
Over 9.5 Runs (+100) Bet the Over at BetMGM
Final Score Prediction:
Los Angeles Dodgers 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 4

Best Bets Tracker

Boston Red Sox Moneyline +143
Dodgers/Diamondbacks Over 9.5 Runs (+100)


How do I handicap my MLB Best Bets?

My MLB handicapping model is based on the baseball pythagorean theorem where you can predict a team's winning percentage based on how many runs they score and allow over the course of the season.
I make projections on how many runs each player scores or allows for how that team's projected roster for that day would do over the course of a full season.

Once I have a projected winning percentage for both teams, I have a formula I use to determine each team's probability of winning. For example, I calculate what percentage of games a .500 team wins against a .400 win team.

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