MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, August 31st

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

August 31, 2023 11:23 AM

MLB schedule today has 4 games

Only four games are on the betting board today and only one day game, as it is a really light day on the diamond. We’ve got some good series kicking off this weekend, so it is something of a much-deserved rest for 22 of the league’s 30 ballclubs.

What appears to be an NLCS preview does kick off in LA tonight between the Dodgers and Braves and that is obviously the game of the night as everybody straps in to follow that series between heavyweights.

Apologies for not getting VSiN Daily Baseball Bets out yesterday. The site we use for podcasts had issues uploading the show and with so many day games and the Updated NFL Betting Guide to finish up, time simply ran out. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so hopefully you just love the show a little bit more today and going forward.

Latest MLB betting splits | MLB odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Follow me on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, to get the article right as it goes live. (Tracking sheet)

VSiN Daily Baseball Bets will be out shortly.

Here are some thoughts on the August 31 card (odds from DraftKings):

New York Yankees (-112, 8) at Detroit Tigers

Going to flip the script today and start with the AL because there is only one game and it is an afternoon affair in Motown. Clarke Schmidt and Matt Manning are listed for this one, as Schmidt comes in with a 4.51 ERA, 4.12 xERA, and a 4.24 FIP in his 129.2 innings of work. His recent blow-up against Atlanta did a number on his run metrics, as he allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings. Outside of that start, Schmidt has not allowed more than three runs in a start since May 14.

From May 19 to now, he has a 3.71 ERA with a 4.06 FIP. The Braves start accounts for eight of the 37 earned runs he has allowed over 89.2 innings. We can’t just pretend like bad starts don’t exist, but Schmidt does show a 3.19 ERA over his other 16 starts and one cameo relief appearance in that span. The Tigers are not the Braves, so it would seem like he has a good chance at succeeding in this one.

Manning has a 3.93 ERA, but there are some regression signs in the profile with a 5.51 xERA and a 4.98 FIP in 71 innings of work. The low FIP is a byproduct of a 15.4% K% and the low ERA is aided by a .216 BABIP against. Manning has allowed 11 homers, but they’ve been clustered, with three in two of his 11 starts. He’s only allowed one earned run (four total) over his last three starts since a stretch where he allowed 19 runs over three starts.

Manning has actually shut down the Red Sox, Guardians, and Astros over his last 17.2 innings of work. Temperatures have cooled in various parts of the country, including the Great Lakes, where it’s only supposed to get up to 72 or 73 today. Perhaps that will help out the pitchers.

Nothing from me in the early game, but Manning does have some regression signs I may look to go against down the line.

Miami Marlins (-162, 8.5) at Washington Nationals

I know that teams are only playing division rivals 13 times this season, but it feels like these teams have played each other 100 times thus far. Maybe it’s just because they faced off just last week, as Garrett and Adon went head-to-head on August 25. Adon threw six shutout innings for the second time in his MLB career (6.1 vs. Arizona on 4/19/22) and Garrett allowed three runs on seven hits over his six innings.

The Nationals took down the underdog victory in that one at a bigger price and will look to repeat the feat as a home dog in this one. Adon is probably the lowest-rated starting pitcher for oddsmakers and modelers. If he’s not the lowest, he’s certainly among that group. There isn’t a whole lot of belief in his profile, nor should there be. He has a 6.41 ERA with a 4.95 FIP in 94 career MLB innings with an 11.2% BB%, a below average K%, and subpar numbers across Triple-A.

So, no, I won’t be betting on him and the Nationals to repeat the feat. Garrett still has a 3.96 ERA with a 3.67 FIP for the season, as some of the hard contact he has allowed has come back to bite him in the second half. He has a 4.54 ERA with a 4.23 FIP in 41.2 innings. His K% has gone down and he’s one of many Marlins pitchers I’m worried about in the second half. He’s thrown 134 innings this season. His max was 119.2 in 2021 prior to this year, so I am concerned moving forward.

Guess we’ll see how he does today against a lineup that has been in the top 10 against lefties all season.

San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres (-130, 8.5)

The Giants suffered a setback on Wednesday and gave a game back to the Reds before heading down to SoCal to take on the Padres. The Giants had gone from August 3 to August 28 without winning consecutive games and actually won three in a row before failing to finish off the sweep yesterday.

It has been a rough road for the Giants, who will end August 28th or worse in wOBA and the same in wRC+. They’ve only batted .227 as a team this month and will finish with the lowest SLG. The Padres have only hit .242 as a team, but they’ve drawn more walks and hit for more power to rank around the league average in wOBA and just above it in wRC+. Yet, one team is still in the playoff picture and the other one really isn’t.

It was not an enjoyable flight home from St. Louis for the Padres, who fell to 0-11 in extra-inning games and 6-22 in one-run games with yesterday’s loss. They are 73-61 by Pythagorean Win-Loss, which is a standings metric derived from run differential. They are 62-72 overall. They’ve been walked off 12 times by the opposition. It could not be a more frustrating season and, frankly, I’ve never seen anything this bad on the negative side. I’ve seen teams way overperform in one-run games to the positive side (2016 Rangers), but never this bad to the negative.

The Giants have some options today. They’ll likely start with an opener, but Sean Manaea, Jakob Junis, and Tristan Beck are all passengers in the same boat. Beck threw 70 pitches on Sunday, Junis threw 31 on Saturday, Manaea threw 74 on Saturday, and even Alex Wood could be an option after throwing 52 pitches a week ago.

The Padres are seventh in wOBA against LHP in the second half and 16th against RHP, so it could be Ryan Walker in a back-to-back and then Junis/Beck today. Or, the Giants could try to split up the southpaws in Manaea and Wood and try to sneak a couple innings through along with one of the right-handers. It’s a bit messy overall.

Pedro Avila will start for the Padres. He has a 2.63 ERA with a 3.68 xERA and a 2.94 FIP over his 27.1 innings of work. He made his second start of the season back on August 26 and allowed five runs on five hits in four innings. He had made four extended bulk appearances this months and one other start with two runs on 14 hits with 20 strikeouts against five walks.

So, I’m not really sure what to expect in this one. There might be a little bit of value in the Giants given how the road trip ended for the Padres and how Avila doesn’t profile to be as good as his numbers are, but I’m not jumping into this pool since I can’t see the bottom given that I don’t know who the Giants are throwing out there.

Atlanta Braves (-148, 8.5) at Los Angeles Dodgers

My speculation that the Dodgers might mail in the final game against the Diamondbacks was dead wrong, but at least Arizona got shut out, so the Under 9.5 came through. LA is just a machine. The Dodgers will either finish August 24-5 or 25-4. It’s like they simply flipped a switch, as they were just 25-22 in June and July. They have outscored the opposition 169-87 this month and that +82 run differential would rank eighth for the full season.

The Braves have rattled off a 20-8 month of August themselves and outscored opponents 186-99. These two teams are head, shoulders, knees, toes, and every other body part over the rest of the NL. Like I said in the intro, if this isn’t an NLCS preview, I’d be completely and utterly shocked.

This should be a good one to open the series as well. Spencer Strider has a 3.46 ERA with a 2.97 xERA and a 2.79 FIP. Since allowing six runs to the Pirates on August 7, Strider has allowed one run on seven hits in his last 21 innings with 25 strikeouts against six walks. Strider has 236 strikeouts on the season with a 38.1% K%. He has allowed 18 homers, but hasn’t allowed one in his last five starts, so it will be interesting to see how an elite Dodgers offense fares against him.

Did Lance Lynn’s last start make the betting market sour on him a bit. Lynn allowed four runs (three earned) on 10 hits against the Red Sox at Fenway Park last time out. He gave up two homers as well. In five starts with the Dodgers, Lynn has a 2.03 ERA, but a 4.68 FIP. He’s allowed six homers (three in his first start), but what concerns me is that he only has four strikeouts out of his last 54 batters faced.

The risk of ruin looks higher on Lynn than Strider to me, so I’m not going to play this game. Initially, I felt like maybe the Dodgers could carry a bit of value, but I’d trust Strider more and I’d also have a little more trust in the Atlanta offense.

Much bigger card tomorrow, so there will be some picks. Also, I have a commitment on Saturday morning, so Zach Cohen will take over for that day to round out the week.

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