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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM

Games to Watch - Thursday

Cubs at Royals
Betting Picks & Prediction

Time: 7:07 PM EST

Cubs at Royals Odds

  • Chicago Cubs (-172)
  • Kansas City Royals (+157)

  • Kansas City Royals (+157)
  • Run Total 9 (Over -110, Under -110)

Probable Pitchers (2020 Records)    

  • Tyler Chatwood RHP (2-0, 0.71 ERA)
  • Brad Keller RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

 Despite the shortened 2020 season, not much is different for the both the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals. For the past few years, the Cubs have been contenders in the NL Central while the Royals apart from 2015 have been doormats in the AL Central. Thursday’s interleague matchup between the Cubs and Royals is the last in four games that both clubs will be playing against each other this year. The first two games were played at Wrigley Field and the Cubs won both. Wednesday’s game was played in Kansas City and the Cubs won as well. Will the Cubs sweep the Royals? I believe the answer to be no, so I am betting on the Kansas City Royals as +157 moneyline underdogs for Thursday’s matchup.
What makes Baseball difficult and fun to handicap is how to evaluate starting pitching matchups. It is not like Basketball or Football where you are trying to figure out which team is better overall. For Baseball, you are trying to figure out which team is fielding a better roster for that day. Baseball lineups will usually not change too much from game to game, but the starting pitcher will be different.
For Thursday’s game, the Cubs are using Tyler Chatwood who is the baseball equivalent of a glass sculpture. Chatwood is great when he does not break like so far this season where Chatwood has a 2-0 record with a 0.71 ERA. However, Chatwood is not going to continue pitching this well. Last season in primarily a relief role Chatwood was 5-3 with a 3.76 ERA, and a 4.28 FIP. In 2018 as primarily a starter Chatwood was 4-6 with a 5.30 ERA, and a 5.60 FIP. As a reliever Chatwood is decent, but as a starting pitcher he is not reliable.

Facing off against Chatwood is Brad Keller for the Royals. Keller who has yet to pitch this season had a 4.19 ERA, and a 4.35 FIP last season. Based on the 25-year old Keller being a more reliable pitcher than Chatwood is why I am betting on the Royals in tomorrow’s game.
When looking at the starting lineups for both teams, the Cubs are clearly a better team. This is not a surprise, and it is the main reason why the Cubs were rightfully heavily favored in their previous three matchups against the Royals. The Cubs lineup currently averages 5.18 runs per game, While the Royals average only 3.67 runs per game. However even with the Royals having a worse lineup than the Cubs, the best teams do not always win against the worst teams. Thursday’s game will be one of those games where the underdog wins. That is why I am backing the Kansas City Royals moneyline at +157 odds. 

Cubs at Royals 
Best Bet & Predictions

Best Bet:
Kansas City Royals Moneyline +157 - Bet the Royals at BetMGM
Final Score Prediction:
Kansas City Royals 5, Chicago Cubs 4

Astros at Diamondbacks
Betting Picks & Prediction

Time: 7:07 PM

Astros at Diamondbacks Odds

  • Houston Astros (-137)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+125)
  • Run Total 9.0 (Over -110, Under -110)

Probable Pitchers (2020 Records)

  • Brandon Bielak RHP (2-0, 1.69 ERA)
  • Zac Gallen LHP (0-0, 2.70 ERA)

The Astros year after year have been one of the best teams in baseball. The Diamondbacks are either a strong team, or a mediocre team depending on the year. This year there was much excitement about the Diamondbacks following an active offseason, however the Diamondbacks have been flatter than an open seltzer bottle. During the preseason, the Diamondbacks were expected to have a winning record, but currently they are in last place in the NL West after playing 20% of their games. The odds are correctly set for Thursday’s game, but the total is set too low. That is why I am betting that over nine runs will be scored.
For a game to go over the run total, both teams must combine for a large number of runs. Based on the strength of both lineups I see that easily happening. The team that is going to score the most runs in Thursday’s game is the Houston Astros. Out of all 30 MLB teams, the Astros currently average the most runs per game with an average of 6.00 runs per game.

The Diamondbacks are last out of all MLB teams in runs per game with an average of 2.64 runs per game. Before the season started, I projected the Diamondbacks to average 5.11 runs per game. The Astros have barely overperformed my projections as I projected them to score 5.82 runs per game. The Diamondbacks lack of scoring is not due to a lack of offensive talent, but negative variance from a small sample of games. I expect both teams to contribute at least four runs in Thursday’s matchup.
The starting pitcher for Thursday’s game will play a factor in the run total as well. For the Diamondbacks, they are using Starting Pitcher Zac Gallen who in two starts is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Gallen was impressive in his last start against the Dodgers, however I expect him to run into trouble against the Astros. Even if he does not run into any trouble it is worth noting that he might be on the mound for five innings or less as he was for his first start. Facing off against Gallen is Astros rookie Brandon Bielak who is making his first career start.

While Bielak might be a good starting pitcher I see one of two things happening to him.  The first thing that could happen to him is that he pitches poorly in his first full game, the second thing that could happen is he pitches well but they only leave him in for four innings. With two strong lineups in Thursday’s game, something is going to go right for one of these two teams. That is why I am betting that over nine runs will be scored. 

Astros at Diamondbacks
Best Bet & Prediction

Best Bet:
Over 9 Runs, -110
Final Score Prediction:
Houston Astros 7, Arizona Diamondbacks 5
Best Bets Tracker
Kansas City Royals Moneyline +157
Astros/Diamondbacks Over 9, Runs -110 

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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