Independence Day: Underdogs to Bet on Thursday(7/4)

Wednesday was not a good day for statistical underdogs, as only five out of sixteen games with an underdog were won by the underdog. Our column did survive yesterday, though, going 4 for 9 in the games we picked. We were up $86.50 on the day(thanks to Baltimore and Toronto), so in our fourteen days of the underdog column, we are 44 for 89 and are up $531.82 over that fourteen day period (with all 89 bets being $50). Here are the underdogs that you should consider betting on Thursday.

Cincinnati Reds (+114) vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 2:10 PM EST Start

Sonny Gray dominated the Brewers on Wednesday, shutting them out 3-0. With the Reds within 4.5 games of the division leading Brewers, how will today’s game go?

The National League Central is getting tighter and tighter. Now, only 4.5 games separate the first place Brewers and the last place Reds. Even though it is July, every divisional game is crucial with how close all five teams are in this division.

The Reds send Luis Castillo to the mound. He has lost his last two starts and his record now sits at 7-3, with a 2.47 ERA. On the season, Castillo has faced the Brewers three times and in those starts, he is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. The only one of those that was in Cincinnati happened on April 3, and Castillo gave up one run in seven innings in that outing.

The Milwaukee Brewers have won 11 of Brandon Woodruff’s last 12 starts. He has been pretty good for most of the season, sporting a 3.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. His record is currently sitting at 10-2. He won his only start of the season against the Reds, when he gave up three runs in seven innings on June 23 at Miller Park.

The stats probably say to lean Milwaukee in this game, but Castillo has been really good at home this season. He has given up a total of fourteen runs at home over eight starts this season. Brandon Woodruff gave up four, three, and six runs in his three road starts in June. Look for Castillo to get revenge for his bad outings against Milwaukee this season, and take the Reds to win the final game of this series.

Toronto Blue Jays (+100) vs. Boston Red Sox, 7:07 PM EST Start

Toronto will turn to Marcus Stroman to win the rubber match of this series against Boston.

Our biggest win in this column on Wednesday was Toronto at +250. We feel that they have a great shot to win the series and take this game as well. The Toronto offense stayed hot yesterday, scoring six runs for the 10th time in 11 games. Toronto has beaten Boston three of the last four games they have played, and Thursday’s pitching match-up favors Toronto.

The Red Sox send Rick Porcello to the mound. He is 5-7 on the season with a 5.07 ERA. He is coming off his worst start of the year, in which he couldn’t get out of the first inning against the Yankees in London. Porcello has faced the Blue Jays twice this season, and he has given up six runs over twelve innings of work (4.50 ERA).

The Blue Jays send Marcus Stroman to the hill on Thursday. Stroman is 5-9 on the season with a 3.18 ERA. Two of his five wins, however, have come against the Boston Red Sox. In those two games, Stroman gave up one run over twelve innings of work (0.75 ERA).

With the Blue Jays offense being red hot, a pitching match-up that favors them, and Marcus Stroman wanting to look good so he could possibly be traded, take the Blue Jays to win the rubber match in this series.

Chicago White Sox (-102) vs. Detroit Tigers, 2:10 PM EST Start

The White Sox turn to Reynaldo Lopez to finish off a sweep of the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox and Tigers played a doubleheader on Wednesday. In game one, White Sox prospect Dylan Cease got his first win. In game two, the Tigers bullpen blew leads in the 7th inning and the 10th inning, and then gave up a walk-off three run home run in the 12th inning.

The Tigers are 1-11 in their last 12 games. The Tigers will send Matthew Boyd, arguably their best starter, to the mound on Thursday afternoon. They have lost eight of his last nine starts. Boyd is 5-6 on the season with an ERA of 3.72. He has given up 14 runs over 17 innings in his past three starts (7.41 ERA). He has also given up six home runs in his last two starts.

The White Sox will counter with Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez is 4-7 on the season with a 6.12 ERA, but has given up three runs in each of his last two starts. Those starts were both road starts that the White Sox won (in Boston and in Texas). Lopez has faced the Tigers twice this season, and has given up four runs in twelve innings of work (3.00 ERA).

The White Sox have beaten the Tigers four straight times at Guaranteed Rate Field. Look for that trend to continue today.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+110) vs. Chicago Cubs, 4:05 PM EST Start

The Cubs have lost the first three games of this series to the Pirates. On this pictured play, the Pirates scored the tying run in the ninth inning, when Addison Russell threw home on a ground ball to second base. He was playing back, which mystified many Cubs fans.

Fans on the North Side of Chicago are beginning to wonder what the heck is going on with their team. There were some strategic decisions that were confusing in last night’s game, and there were some clear mental lapses that showed that the Cubs aren’t 100 percent focused right now. From Javier Baez getting a single on a ball he hit off the wall because he didn’t run it out, to Willson Contreras booting a somewhat easy play for a normal outfielder, to Addison Russell throwing home when playing back on the infield, Cubs fans were mystified by their team’s play in the final few innings of last night’s game.

Nevertheless, they are still in the most even division in baseball, and they are still only one game back of the division leading Milwaukee Brewers. The problem, though, is that the Cardinals are 2.5 games back, the Pirates are 3 games back, and the Reds are 4.5 games back. This division is so even right now, and it is waiting for one team to get hot and go on a run. Right now, that team may be the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates are brimming with confidence right now. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and have won the first three games of their current series. On Thursday, they look to complete the sweep and move even closer to the division leaders. They will send Jordan Lyles to the mound on Thursday. After starting the year 5-1, Lyles has lost three of his last four starts. This includes a start last weekend in Milwaukee, which was his first since returning from the IL. He gave up three runs over six innings of work. In his only start against the Cubs this season, Lyles gave up one run in six innings of work and got the win (Pirates won 5-2).

The Cubs extended their poor road record to 16-26 in the first three games of this series. They will send Jose Quintana to the mound to avoid the sweep on Thursday. He won his last start, pitching six scoreless innings last weekend in Cincinnati. Prior to that, the Cubs had lost eight of Quintana’s last nine starts. In his only start against Pittsburgh this season, he threw seven scoreless innings.

Normally, I’d probably give the edge to the Cubs to avoid the sweep. But, they aren’t playing smart baseball right now and are finding ways to lose, instead of finding ways to win. The Pirates are hungry, and are closer to the division lead than they have been all season. Look for them to get a decent outing from Lyles and complete the sweep on Thursday.

Kansas City Royals (+117) vs. Cleveland Indians, 1:15 PM EST Start

Can Homer Baliey help the Royals avoid a sweep by the Indians on Thursday afternoon?

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That needs to be the motto of this column when it comes to the Kansas City Royals. We have picked them as a good underdog to play in more than half of our articles, and they have responded by losing two-thirds of those games. We will try again today and ride them back out there.

The Royals send Homer Bailey to the mound. He lost his last start against Toronto, giving up five runs in five innings of work. Before that, however, he had won his previous three starts (two of them at home). He is 7-6 on the season with a 4.87 ERA, but in his last five starts, he has lowered his ERA from 6.05 to 4.87. In his only start against Cleveland this season, he threw seven scoreless innings and notched his first win of the year on April 13.

The Indians send their young prospect Zach Plesac to the mound. He had been pitching great (two runs or less in five of his first six starts), until a start last weekend in Baltimore in which he was hammered. He gave up seven runs in 3 and 2/3 innings of work, and many fantasy baseball owners were left scratching their heads. He has given up nine home runs in his past six starts, which is a little disheartening.

The Indians have had the Royals number in this series, outscoring them 13-5 in the first two games. Look for the Royals bats to give enough support to Homer Bailey in this game, and avoid the sweep.

Los Angeles Angels (+110) vs. Texas Rangers, 8:05 PM EST Start

How will Griffin Canning do in Texas on Thursday night? Tonight’s start was supposed to be a start by Tyler Skaggs, before his unfortunate passing.

It has been an emotional roller coaster for the Angels this week. After losing pitcher Tyler Skaggs, no one knew how the Angels would respond as a team. They have responded by winning both games of this series so far, and they look to go for the sweep on Thursday. In their last two games, they have outscored the Rangers 15-6. Tonight’s pitching match-up is a very even match-up.

The Rangers will send Lance Lynn to the mound to avoid the sweep. Lynn is 10-4 on the season, with a 4.00 ERA. The Rangers have won his last three starts, and he has given up three runs or less in nine of his last ten starts. He will need to produce another great outing to lead the Rangers to a win on Thursday. In two starts against the Angels this year, Lynn is 1-1 and has given up four runs in 12 and 2/3 innings of work (2.84 ERA).

The Angels send Griffin Canning to the hill on Thursday. Canning is 3-4 on the season with a 3.79 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He has had a WHIP of 1.00 or less in seven of his eleven starts this season. In his only start against the Rangers, he gave up one run in five innings of work.

The Angels have responded well so far this series to the passing of Tyler Skaggs. This would have been his scheduled night to pitch in the rotation. Look for the Angels to honor his memory again tonight, and pull off the sweep in Texas.

Tampa Bay Rays (+105) vs. New York Yankees, 5:10 PM EST Start

The Yankees have had the Rays’ number this season. Can Yonny Chirinos help turn the tide for the Rays on Thursday?

The Yankees swept the Rays in Yankee stadium two weeks ago, and have owned them so far this season. In their ten match-ups, the Yankees have won all three series, going 8-2 in those 10 games. If the Rays are going to be division contenders, they are going to need to step up and have a big series this weekend.

The pitching match-up in game one seems to favor the Rays. The Yankees send J.A. Happ to the mound. He is 7-4 on the season, but does have a 5.23 ERA. He has given up six or more runs on three occasions this season, including his last start against Houston, in which he gave up eight runs. Happ won his start two weeks against Tampa Bay, giving up two runs in five innings of work.

The Rays will counter with Yonny Chirinos. Chirinos has been a bright spot for the Rays this season, going 7-4 with a 3.10 ERA. In three appearances against the Yankees this season, he is 1-1 and has given up five runs over 14 and 2/3 innings of work (3.07 ERA). The Rays did lose all three of Chirinos’ home starts in the month of June.

Look for the Rays to come out early, and pile up some runs on J.A. Happ. The Yankees have had the Rays numbers this year, but the Rays know the importance of this series. Look for the Rays to win game one.

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