MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, July 27th

By Adam Burke  ( 

July 27, 2023 11:16 AM

MLB schedule today has 5 games

Only four scheduled games were on the betting board for Thursday, but a fifth game was added when some gnarly storms in the Great Lakes region forced an early postponement between the Angels and Tigers. Now the teams will play two at Comerica Park with a traditional doubleheader of afternoon games to fill out a five-game slate.

Offense remained above league average the last two days, as we’ve seen a .255/.323/.437 slash, .328 wOBA, and a 108 wRC+ with a 13.8% HR/FB%. As has been the case here in the second half, we haven’t seen a lot of pop ups for one reason or another, so the fly balls have been more hurtful for pitchers and more productive for hitters, creating the uptick in offense that we’ve seen.

Anyway, consider this to be the calm before the weekend storm, as we’ll have 15 games per day and a bunch of Trade Deadline news, notes, deals, and rumors. Speaking of which, I am updating a live Trade Deadline blog and have filled in notes on the completed deals thus far, as well as keeping track of the odds of where certain players may end up.

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 July 27 card (odds from DraftKings):

Washington Nationals at New York Mets (-215, 9)

The Mets came up on the short end and left the Bronx with a split after the latest installment of the Subway Series as they hit a really interesting crossroads this weekend. They are 7.5 games out of a playoff spot with a four-game series against the Nationals, who are battling admirably, but still have the second-worst record in the NL. It may be too late for the Mets to buy, but could a strong showing this weekend keep them from selling?

Kodai Senga will attempt to set the tone. He has a 3.27 ERA with a 3.64 xERA and a 3.81 FIP over his 99 innings pitched. Senga has 125 strikeouts against 50 walks with a 29.7% K% that is excellent and an 11.9% BB% that is not. The Nationals have been one of the league’s top teams in strikeout avoidance this season, so that will be interesting to follow here and throughout the series.

Senga has allowed a 38.3% Hard Hit% and a very good 5.8% Barrel%, so the walks are really the only glaring hiccup in his profile. He only lasted 3.1 innings last time out as he got into some trouble, but he has a 2.76 ERA with a 3.14 FIP in his last 62 innings of work covering 11 starts and has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last six outings.

Regression is still lurking for Josiah Gray. He’s got a 3.45 ERA with a 4.55 xERA and a 4.77 FIP over his 112.1 innings of work. He, too, has a BB issue with a 10.4% BB% and doesn’t have the same strikeout rate as Senga at 20%. He’s been running hot on the LOB% side all season and now has an 82.9% mark, including an 84.1% LOB% over his last five starts. He allowed a run on four hits to the Giants last time out after giving up four runs on 10 hits in his first start after the Break.  In two starts since the Break, he’s only struck out six of the 53 batters that he has faced, but he has also allowed just a 21.4% Hard Hit%.

The other thing is that it’s going to be in the 90s in Queens with humid conditions and a very helpful breeze blowing out. That could definitely lead to some offense, so it’s a stay away game for me.

Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals (-115, 9.5)

Justin Steele and Miles Mikolas meet in this NL Central showdown, as the Cubs sit just one game away from the .500 mark and 4.5 games out in the Wild Card chase. They’re six back in the division, as they’ve gone 8-4 in the second half and have won seven of the last eight and five in a row.

This is supposed to be a series between sellers. If the Cubs have a big weekend in this four-game set, will they pull back on the trades of Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman or will they continue with what the original plan was? After all, this is the only team in the NL with a positive run differential and things seem to be coming together in all facets.

Chicago has scored 86 runs in 12 second-half games, so over seven runs per contest heading into this matchup with Mikolas. The Cardinals righty, who is not a trade candidate, has a 4.33 ERA with a 4.97 xERA and a 3.89 FIP over his 126.2 innings of work. He has a low 15.8% K%, but a 4.6% BB%, so his outcomes are entirely BABIP-dependent, especially having lowered his HR/FB% down to 7.6% this season.

With a 39.7% Hard Hit% and a 7.5% Barrel%, Mikolas has been hurt by a rare down year from the Cardinals defense. He’s also struggled with men on base with a .317/.348/.423 slash and a .289/.331/.421 slash with runners in scoring position. In three starts since the Break, Mikolas has allowed eight runs on 18 hits, which includes an abbreviated three-inning start against the Nationals that wound up being a suspended game.

Steele is having an excellent season with a 2.95 ERA, 3.29 xERA, and a 2.97 FIP over his 103.2 innings of work. He’s got a similarly strong walk rate to what Mikolas has, but more strikeouts and more batted ball luck. Steele allowed six runs on 10 hits to Boston in his first start after the Break, but then allowed two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts against the Cardinals in 6.1 innings six days ago.

He has only allowed a 33% Hard Hit% and a 6.0% Barrel% on the season. The Cardinals are 13th with a .327 wOBA and a 108 wRC+ against lefties for the season, but have a .351 wOBA and a 124 wRC+ here in the month of July in that split. The Cubs have a .345 wOBA and a 117 wRC+ against righties this month.

Both of those things seem to be taken into account on a 100-degree day in St. Louis, as we see this total up at 9.5. Nothing from me in this one. I think the game is lined pretty fairly, though it is interesting to see the Cardinals favored here with how hot the Cubs have been. That seems kind of telling.

Los Angeles Angels (-145, 8) at Detroit Tigers Game 1

Los Angeles Angels (-125, 9) at Detroit Tigers Game 2

Let’s see if last night’s trade is a shot in the arm for the Angels. They acquired Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez after it was reported that Shohei Ohtani is not a candidate to be traded. It was said that the team wanted to buy for a playoff push and the front office led by example with last night’s late deal. That could kickstart the ballclub here today with two games to play in the hot, humid conditions of Detroit.

Game 1

The Angels have flipped their starters, as they’ll roll with Ohtani in the first game and then Patrick Sandoval in the second. The Tigers will stay with what they had planned and go with Michael Lorenzen in Game 1 and Matt Manning in Game 2.

Ohtani has struggled of late on the pitching side. He’s allowed 15 runs on 18 hits in his last three starts, including four homers allowed to the Pirates last time out. He’s still done a pretty good job of racking up the strikeouts in his last five starts with 43 of those, but in his last start before the Break and two starts after it, he hasn’t had the same command.

I’m not really sure what we’ll get here, as the Tigers are not exactly a good lineup, but neither are the Pirates and they hit Ohtani pretty hard. Over his last four starts, Ohtani has allowed a 50.9% Hard Hit% and a 17.5% Barrel%. While I have no doubt that he will continue to be a productive hitter, I am concerned about a lot of the things I see on the pitching side from him.

Here’s what I wrote about Lorenzen yesterday:

This will probably be Lorenzen’s last start for the Tigers, as he is an impending free agent and is having one of his better seasons. He’s got a 3.49 ERA with a 4.20 xERA and a 4.03 FIP in his 17 starts across 100.2 innings of work. Obviously there are some regression signs there. He’s got a low 19.1% K% and a league average Hard Hit% at 39.1%, so his .258 BABIP is low, since the quality of his stuff doesn’t seem to support a low number like that.

Lorenzen has not allowed a run in his last three starts across 18.2 innings of work with 14 strikeouts against six walks. He’s only allowed eight hits in that span. I’m still amazed by his season, as he’s allowed six runs three times, five runs three times, two runs twice, and then one or no runs in nine starts. What’s weird to me is that his velocity is down over his last three starts, but he’s been really effective.

Early start, not much lead time, so no play from me even if I had one, but it is an interesting game.

Game 2

As far as Game 2 goes, Sandoval, who was supposed to start last night, will go in the “nightcap”, which will be played mid-afternoon. Here’s what I wrote about him yesterday:

Sandoval’s 2023 season bums me out. He has a 4.16 ERA with a 4.25 xERA and a 3.99 FIP, but I see so much more potential for him and I wish he’d get traded somewhere else. Somewhere with better defense on an annual basis and a better feel for pitching. At least the Angels have gotten a little better with it this season, as guys like Reid Detmers and Griffin Canning have shown more upside.

Sandoval has only allowed a 34.2% Hard Hit% with a 6.8% Barrel% on the season, so his contact management numbers are awesome. He has a 51% GB%, which is also awesome. His K% is down to 18.7%, but his SwStr% is 12.4%, so he should have more strikeouts than he does. One thing that worries me today is that Sandoval has only made one start since the All-Star Break and hasn’t pitched since July 18, but he was excellent in that start. He allowed a solo homer and one other hit over 7.1 innings against the Yankees with seven strikeouts.

The Tigers are 22nd in wOBA at .292 against lefties since June 15, so they haven’t set the world ablaze with their performance, which is hardly a surprise. They haven’t had a good offense in a long time, but they are making gains on the pitching side.

Detroit will counter with Manning, who has a 3.19 ERA with a 4.34 xERA and a 4.65 FIP over 36.2 innings pitched. He’s got a low strikeout rate, but his peripherals look good and he has only allowed a .208 BABIP. That comes, however, with a 41.9% Hard Hit%, so I’m not sure about the sustainability of that number, though his HH% is just 30.8% in four July starts and he has only allowed two barrels.

Manning only made it through two innings last time out, as he allowed a hit and walked a couple. A long rain delay cut his start short, but he was part of a combined no-hitter on July 8 and then allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits to the Royals in his first start after the Break. He’s throwing the ball well right now. Even if the strikeouts aren’t there, he’s staying off the barrel nicely.

I’m not keen on playing Game 2 of a doubleheader preflop because I have no idea what will transpire with the pitchers, hitters, etc. But this looks like a couple of interesting games.

Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox (-115, 8)

The Guardians traded away Amed Rosario last night, which could very well be addition by subtraction. Rosario, who was inexplicably batting second in Terry Francona’s lineup, had gone through some hot stretches here and there, but was an objectively poor hitter and one of the worst fielding shortstops in baseball. Oscar Gonzalez has been recalled, so SS reps will either go to Andres Gimenez, Gabriel Arias, or Tyler Freeman for now until Brayan Rocchio comes up for good.

Speaking of trades, the White Sox traded Dylan Cease’s rotation mate last night in Giolito, but it has been reported that the White Sox plan to contend in 2024 and won’t trade Cease. His name had been discussed and he’s been a bit better lately than he was early in the season. He’s got a 4.04 ERA with a 4.02 xERA and a 3.63 FIP in 113.2 innings pitched, but he’s got a 3.19 ERA and a 3.24 FIP over his last 13 starts. He had a really rough month of April, but has since gotten out of it and allowed three or fewer runs in 11 of his last 13 starts.

He’s allowed one run in each of his second-half starts against the Braves and Twins with 15 strikeouts against five walks. He’s only allowed six hits in that span and has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his nine starts since June 3. He has 70 strikeouts in 51 innings since the start of June and has also cut back on the walks to just 18.

The Guardians are getting fine work from tonight’s starter, Tanner Bibee. The rookie has worked 83 MLB innings and has a 3.04 ERA with a 3.24 xERA and a 3.53 FIP in his 15 starts. He has a solid 24.6% K% with an 8.4% BB%, which he has lowered recently with just two walks in his last 13 innings pitched. Bibee has actually allowed just four earned runs over his last five starts. 

This will be his first start against the White Sox, who are dead last in wOBA against righties at .279 this month with a 74 wRC+ that ranks 29th. They’ve only walked 5.5% of the time in 566 PA and have struck out 25.6% of the time.

Bibee does have some home/road splits, but sample size does play a part. He allowed six runs in a homecoming of sorts against the Padres and then allowed three runs in his next road start against the Diamondbacks. In two road starts since, he’s only allowed two runs on eight hits in 11.2 innings of work. He recently faced Kansas City, but this will be the worst offense he’s faced in quite some time otherwise.

While Cease is a more proven name than Bibee, the Guardians are 10th in wOBA at .333 against righties this month with a 112 wRC+, which blows away the White Sox, who, as I mentioned, are about the worst offense in baseball against righties this month and have been among the worst all season.

The Guardians pen has had its issues, but it is a right-handed-heavy group capable of neutralizing the White Sox bats. Also, Cleveland has just a 16.4% K% against righties this month, so they should put more balls in play and create more chances to score runs. I like them to secure the victory today and move over .500 for the first time since July 8. The White Sox have lost five in a row and seven of eight and just feel like they've thrown in the towel on another season, especially as the selling has begun.

Pick: Guardians -105

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