It’s “Total Thursday” here on Action Network. There are eight games on Major League Baseball’s slate and our experts have found betting value in three of them—all targeting some form of total.
We have one game, of course, a full-game total, but we also have team totals and first-five-innings totals.
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Chicago White Sox vs Cleveland Guardian
DJ James, The American League Central race is heating up and Thursday’s match between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians is crucial for both teams. Lance Lynn will pitch for the White Sox and Cleveland Hunter will call Gaddis for a spot start.
Lynn has been stable throughout the year and owns an ERA of 4.07 with a 3.67 xERA. He ranks in the top-40% of MLBs in average exhaust velocity and in the 99th percentile in walk rate. In the second half, he is about as good as a starter can get with a 2.05 ERA and 0.80 whips.
Gaddi is an above-average strikeout pitcher who struggles with control at times. Luckily for him, he faces a White Sox team that ranks second to last in chase rate and runs this season. Given that only a few Chicago hitters have excelled from the right wing lately, don’t let the padding hurt too much.
Cleveland has only had three hitters above .325 xwOBA since Aug. 15. He has wobbled his way to victory, but most of that is a testament to his strong pitching. None in this lineup has had an average exhaust velocity greater than 90 mph during that time frame. Lynn just needs to avoid the big bat in Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor and Oscar Gonzalez in the middle.
In addition to issuing walks, Gaddis also has trouble keeping the ball on the ground. In AA and AAA, his ground-ball rate was about 25%. This is not the norm when facing hitters like Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu. Still, both he and Louis Robert are the only Sox hitters to have a .325 xwOBA.
Even though Gaddis plays as an opener for a couple of innings, the Guardian has one of the best bullpen in baseball. He has a 3.28 xFIP with five sides down from 4.00 xFIP.
Neither of these teams hit right handed batsmen very well. The sub-100 of both is wRC+ in the last one month. Lynn will look like a knowledgeable veteran and the Gaddis could surprise some of the hitters in the Sox order.
Miami Marlins vs Philadelphia Phillies
DJ James, The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the best hitting teams against right-handed pitching recently. In fact, over the past month, the Phillies have had a team wRC+ of 117 with an OPS of .781. Noah Syndergaard will get a start against Pablo Lopez and the Miami Marlins.
Lopez has slipped a bit lately and has a 4.08 xERA with a 4.04 ERA. Notably, Lopez has a 6.52 ERA in the second half of the season. Their average exhaust velocity and hard-hit rate rank in the middle of the pack. Almost everyone in the Phillies lineup has .300 xwOBA or higher. This at least means they can put together all the strong plate appearances.
The Phillies have above-average chases, and this is one of Lopez’s best qualities. If Philadelphia can survive the chase, Phillies’ batsmen will find their way to base.
Finally, the Marlins have a bullpen xFIP of 4.14, ranked 21st in baseball. The Phillies will have plenty of scoring opportunities, even when Lopez is out of the game. Watch Philadelphia to score some early runs on the right, then tackle more as the game progresses.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets
Colin Whichchurch, It’s hard to find underdogs with value at this time of year. Several teams have packed it in for the season, playing rookie and Quad-A types, just waiting for the offseason. The Pirates are definitely one of those teams, which is why I can’t endorse one of my favorite underrated pitchers — JT Brubaker — despite what seems like a tempting number.
That’s because the Pittsburgh offense has been so bad throughout the season. You can look at a recent stretch of good results and think that could get some inspired play, but count me as unconvinced because much of it came against a miserable Cincinnati pitching staff.
While I have no confidence in the Pirates’ offense against Carlos Carrasco, I do have a lot in Brubaker, who has made only two starts since the start of July in which he conceded more than three earned runs – against the Phillips and the Braves. .
His 4.36 ERA is backed by 3.87 xFIP, and he can consistently miss with the bat, limiting both hard contact and the long ball. All told, I love him for limiting damages against the New York offense while the Pittsburgh hitters keep running.