Betting on baseball can be a grind that reaps an enormous reward.
Day-to-day outlooks can be vastly different due to starting pitchers, and a wealth of advanced stats can let us know an individual pitcher, a bullpen, or a team is due to positive -- or negative -- regression.
Which MLB lines from FanDuel Sportsbook are most appealing today?
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All stats come from FanGraphs unless noted otherwise. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays
Under 8.5 (-108)
This curiously short number does carry some risk, but it feels like the right side in Thursday's afternoon matinee.
Surprisingly, the reliable pitching that drives this bet is from Tampa Bay's end. Zach Eflin has been masterful in his first season with the Rays, spinning a 2.93 expected ERA (xERA) with what would be a career-best strikeout rate for an entire season of work (28.4%). He's been relatively stable with a maximum of four earned runs allowed in any individual start.
The riskier side is Toronto's Alek Manoah, a pitcher we all feel better about in the long term. Manoah's current 6.54 xERA is ugly without an alibi, but he's recorded a sub-3.35 xERA in both of his first two major league seasons to this point. He's been mostly victimized by a 14.8% HR/FB ratio that's significantly above the major league average (11.8%). His 38.6% flyball rate is actually the lowest of his career.
I'm banking on a bit of a decline from these two top-10 offenses against righties (by wRC+) when 31 runs have been on the board the past two days. The best pitching matchup of this series should quell the offenses.
Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Orioles ML (+112)
Call me crazy, but the Orioles should probably be favored today.
In a matchup of two righties, they've got the better one, and these offenses are supremely close in the split. New York's active roster (which is a must to examine them because of their precipitous drop without Aaron Judge) has a 112 wRC+ against righties, and Baltimore isn't far behind (109).
That "better" hurler is Kyle Gibson, who has had a fairly standard season based on his overall career. He's not exactly an ace behind a 4.80 xERA and 16.9% punchout rate, but he limits flyballs (33.9% rate allowed) with a supremely low hard-hit rate allowed (28.0%).
I'd still take him over Clarke Schmidt based on what we've seen from the Yanks' fifth starter. Schmidt's 4.98 xERA is higher, and he's ceded 1.60 HR/9 behind a significantly higher hard-hit rate allowed (35.6%).
There's value solely based on the number in what appears to be a tight affair in the Bronx.
Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
Phillies ML (-106)
The public is largely ignoring Aaron Nola in this spot with a majority of bets and cash on the Braves, but I'll take it.
Nola's 4.31 ERA is supported by a better 3.66 xERA, so in my estimation, he's actually pretty close to the guy that carried the Phillies to the World Series a year ago. His 21.3% strikeout rate is down from last year, but he's made up for it by doing an excellent job limiting hard contact (28.0% rate allowed).
Atlanta will counter with Dylan Dodd, who is up from Triple-A Gwinnett. Dodd's been pretty forgettable in the bigs this year, amassing a 7.27 xERA with a 10.0% strikeout rate. He's also allowed 1.76 HR/9.
The Phillies (83 wRC+ versus lefties) do struggle in this split, which explains some of this price. However, Atlanta has just a 96 wRC+ against righties like Nola, so I trust the veteran over the struggling young hurler in a near pick 'em today.