MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, August 17th

By Adam Burke  ( 

August 17, 2023 11:29 AM

MLB schedule today has 6 games

Six games are on the MLB card for Thursday, as only 12 of the league’s 30 teams take the field. Two day games are on the docket, as a couple series finish up in the afternoon and one will end at night with the Brewers and Dodgers.

With 18 teams either on a travel day or a day of rest at home, it should be a fine weekend on the diamond, but we have to get to that point first.

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Here are some thoughts on the August 17 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Mets (-135, 10) at St. Louis Cardinals

Jose Quintana and Adam Wainwright square off at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals hope that Wainwright can find a way to be useful enough to get a couple of wins the rest of the way and get to 200 before retiring. Based on his season numbers and his recent returns, that is going to take a Herculean offensive effort.

Wainwright’s role is said to be “re-evaluated” after this start, as he has an 8.78 ERA with a 7.79 xERA and a 6.04 FIP in 66.2 innings of work. This is not the final season that anybody envisioned, as he was effective last season with a 3.71 ERA and a 3.66 FIP over 191.2 innings, but the bottom fell out a while ago and now he’s been crashing to the Earth’s crust without a parachute.

He allowed eight runs on nine hits last time out and only faced 11 batters against the Royals. He allowed seven runs on nine hits over three innings against the Rockies on August 4. He was pretty good against the Diamondbacks in his first start of the second half, but that’s been one of the few bright spots. His K% is down to 11.8% and he has a .394 BABIP against with a 57.3% LOB%.

He’s getting absolutely no chases outside the zone and has a 5.3% SwStr%, which is even lower since mid-June at 4.4% in his last nine starts. Since June 24, Wainwright has a 14.87 ERA with 41 runs allowed on 53 hits in 23 innings. It truly is a sad end to a borderline Cooperstown career.

Quintana comes in with a 3.03 ERA, 4.14 xERA, and a 2.93 FIP in his 29.2 innings of work. He only has 20 strikeouts in 123 batters faced, but he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start and has only allowed three once in his five starts. He’s also gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts. He hasn’t allowed a home run yet and has only allowed a 31.2% Hard Hit% with a 3.2% Barrel%.

He even held the Braves to one run on four hits last time out. He’s faced the White Sox, Yankees, Royals, Orioles, and Braves, who rank 24th, 8th, 21st, 14th, and 6th in wOBA against lefties in the second half. The Cardinals are fifth, so this will be the best offense in that split he’s faced with a .358 wOBA and a 129 wRC+.

So, that makes it a little tricky to lay the Mets price, even though virtually everybody has tattooed Wainwright thus far. D.J. Short tweeted that Wainwright has allowed the highest batting average of any pitcher since 1936 with at least 60 innings pitched at .372. To give you some perspective on how this game is being lined, Danny Mendick, who is batting .190 and has a 48 wRC+, is -225 to get a hit tonight per DraftKings.

Maybe it’s just as simple as taking the Mets. I don’t know. I’m not going to bet them, but I’ll probably feel like an idiot for not doing so.

Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres (-112, 8.5)

Zac Gallen and Rich Hill give it a go here as the D-Backs and Padres fire up a four-game set with Tropical Storm Hillary lurking to the southwest. Saturday and Sunday could be severely compromised here and I’m a bit surprised that MLB hasn’t made the decision to change this series and move it indoors to Chase Field. Usually the decision is made in the interest of freeing up emergency personnel and keeping the public safe with things like this. This is the last head-to-head series between the two teams, so making up the games, if need be, may be an issue.

Anyway, that’s an issue for Saturday and Sunday. Maybe they’ll play a doubleheader Saturday before it gets really bad. Keep an eye on this series since it will be pretty fluid.

Hill has a 5.17 ERA with a 5.53 xERA and a 4.66 FIP in 125.1 innings of work overall. He has allowed nine runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings as a member of the Padres with an 8/2 K/BB ratio. He’s allowed three homers and has given up a dinger in four straight starts. He just faced the Diamondbacks and allowed two barrels and nine hard-hit balls in 13 batted ball events five days ago. The 95.8 mph average exit velocity he gave up was the highest of the season.

Gallen, meanwhile, went six shutout innings with eight strikeouts against the Padres five days ago. He’s back to racking up strikeouts with 57 in his last 51.1 innings of work. He’s got a 3.24 ERA for the season with a 3.07 FIP. While I’ve railed against him for April influencing his numbers a lot, he still has a 3.58 ERA with a 3.50 FIP in his last 118 innings covering 19 starts since the start of May. Also, he’s not overpriced here. 

However, I can’t take Arizona here because the Diamondbacks pen is really up against it. Paul Sewald and Kevin Ginkel have pitched four of the last five days, including two back-to-backs. Miguel Castro has pitched four of the last five days as well. Kyle Nelson and Luis Frias have pitched three of the last four. The only guy in decent shape is demoted closer Scott McGough and the usage from the pen is indicative of Torey Lovullo’s complete lack of trust in him. He’s pitched once in the last five days.

The 1st 5 ML for Arizona is -140 at DraftKings, while the full-game line is -108. Unless the Diamondbacks are going to hammer Hill and give Gallen a ton of runway with a big lead, somebody’s going to have to finish this game and get the final outs. I’m not laying -140 on a 1st 5 with a game lined around a pick ‘em.

Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers (-148, 8.5)

Brewers ace Corbin Burnes gets the start today against Lance Lynn as the Brewers and Dodgers battle it out. Burnes is getting a good bit of respect here, even though Lynn has been much better as a member of the Dodgers. Lynn has allowed four earned runs in 18 innings with four solo homers allowed and an unearned run. He’s struck out 22 and walked only four in that span. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers appear to have fixed him.

This is a Brewers bunch that is only 28th in wOBA at .292 with an 81 wRC+ against righties in the second half and the 9.6% BB% is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Historically, Lynn isn’t a guy that issues a lot of walks, so that skill is diminished in a matchup like this for Milwaukee. With a .354 SLG and only 19 homers in 895 PA in this split, I don’t like this matchup for them.

Burnes has a 3.60 ERA with a 3.39 xERA and a 3.93 FIP in 145 innings pitched. He had a run of seven straight starts with two or zero runs allowed snapped last time out against the White Sox with five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings of work. In that span, Burnes faced the Pirates twice, Reds three times, Phillies, and Nationals.

The Dodgers are a top-five offense against righties in the second half. The Pirates are 14th in wOBA, the Reds are 17th, the Phillies are 15th, and the Nationals are 20th. Burnes certainly has the upside to be good here, but I think what the Dodgers have done with Lynn is being underrated and underappreciated in this one.

Despite winning a lot lately, the Dodgers pen is also in excellent shape, as they’ve been winning by margin in most of their games. As great as Burnes is and can be, this price is cheap on a surging Dodgers team that probably won’t need too much offense to get the win.

Pick: Dodgers -148

Seattle Mariners (-218, 9) at Kansas City Royals

The earliest of today’s games features George Kirby and Angel Zerpa, who was expected to be used in a bulk relief capacity, but will actually get the start in this one. Zerpa has allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 9.1 innings this season. He’s got three strikeouts out of 41 batters faced. At the Triple-A level, he worked 26.2 innings with a 4.73 ERA and a 5.51 FIP. He’s only 23 and there’s certainly some development left in the profile, but he’s not really a MLB-caliber pitcher at present.

Kirby has a 3.11 ERA with a 3.65 xERA and a 3.17 FIP in 144.2 innings of work. He’s got a tremendous K/BB ratio and has also done a great job of keeping the ball in the park as a strike-thrower, which can sometimes be an issue. He does have some modest home/road splits, as his slash line is higher on the road by 51/44/60 points and his wOBA against is 43 points higher, but he still has great numbers across the board, including a wOBA under .300 away from home.

Nothing on the early one, but these are the types of games that the Mariners absolutely have to win in order to keep up the push for the postseason.

Detroit Tigers (-135, 8.5) at Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians are facing a lefty and that means a line move on the other side, as Tarik Skubal and the Tigers are up to as high as -140 in the betting markets as this four-game series gets going. It will be Xzavion Curry for the Guardians in this one.

How’s this for a stat? Cleveland will be an underdog at home against the Tigers for the first time since April 12, 2015 when TJ House was the starter against Kyle Lobstein. This will be Cleveland’s biggest home dog role against the Tigers since September 4, 2014 when Trevor Bauer faced off against Max Scherzer. Remember, these two teams played 19 times per season up until this one, so that’s nine or 10 home games per year in that span. So, it’s been a really long time.

It sure seems deserved here. Skubal has a 4.18 ERA, but a 2.70 xERA and a 2.09 FIP in 32.1 innings of work. Cleveland has a league-worst .252 wOBA and a 56 wRC+ against lefties in the second half with a .217/.265/.313 slash line. They also have the lowest wOBA for the season against lefties. They’ve also hit six homers as a team in August. Eight players have hit at least six homers in August and two have hit seven.

Skubal has allowed four or more runs in three of his seven starts, including a seven-run blow-up against the Royals on July 18, but he has a 36/6 K/BB ratio and has only allowed one homer, so FIP is a big fan and xERA likes his low 4.6% Barrel%.

Curry has a 3.39 ERA with a 5.15 xERA and a 4.31 FIP, so regression signs are very much present. He only has 46 K in 69 innings across 285 batters, so FIP and xERA aren’t going to like that. His 76.6% LOB% is ripe for regression to be sure and he gave up five runs on six hits last time out, so maybe that was the start of it.

Cleveland’s pen is in better shape than Detroit’s, as the Tigers needed five relievers yesterday and the Guardians didn’t need any of their top guys, but I don’t have any interest in Cleveland here.

Boston Red Sox (-185, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

Chris Sale and Patrick Corbin square off here to wrap up this interleague set. It will be Sale’s second start after allowing two runs on one hit over 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts last time out. He actually got the first 14 guys of the game out before Kerry Carpenter homered against him. He hit Javier Baez with a 1-2 pitch and exited the game. I remember the Carpenter homer vividly, as I was on the 1st 5 Under in that one and that homer put it over.

It was his first MLB start since June 1 and he threw 58 pitches, so I’d presume he’s somewhere around 65 in this one. Keep that in mind when handicapping the game and also his player props. I see DraftKings doesn’t have an Outs Recorded prop listed, so I guess most books are probably shying away from that market.

Corbin has a 4.85 ERA with a 6.42 xERA and a 5.24 FIP in 137.1 innings of work. He’s coming off of a really interesting start against the Phillies with an unearned run allowed on one hit in five innings, but he walked seven and only struck out two. He had allowed 22 earned runs over his previous six starts and seven homers in his previous four starts.

Ugly card ends with an ugly game to handicap.

TL;DR Recap

Dodgers -148

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