Our Staff's 5 Top Picks For Thursday, Including Phillies vs.  Marlins, Blue Jays vs.  Yankees & More (April 14)

Our Staff’s 5 Top Picks For Thursday, Including Phillies vs. Marlins, Blue Jays vs. Yankees & More (April 14)

We’re a week into the 2022 MLB season and have reached our first “getaway day,” with a host of series’ either getting going or wrapping up.

There are 11 games total on the slate, including a series-opening tilt between the Cardinals and Brewers, and a series-ending matchup between the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Our analysts are on both of this games, including a trio of picks on the former, as well as a side on Phillies-Marlins.

Here are our five best bets from Thursday’s Major League Baseball slate.

MLB Odds & Picks

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers

pick
Cardinals +125
Books
PointsBet
pitchers
Adam Wainwright vs. Brandon Woodruff
First Pitch
5:14 p.m. ET

Tanner McGrath: We’re getting a red-hot Redbirds lineup with their ace on the mound at over +130 odds.

What’s not to like?

The general population is low on the Cardinals, and I even bet their total win under this season. But I’m ready to back them in this spot.

The Cardinals have posted a whopping 152 wRC+ a week into the season, hitting .271 with an .874 OPS despite a below-average .271 BABIP. Meanwhile, Wainwright shoved in his first start, pitching six scoreless while striking out six Pirates and allowing no walks.

Put it all together, and the Cardinals are 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Brewers’ bats have not figured it out. After averaging just 2.8 runs per game through their first five, the Brewers managed just three runs against the lowly Orioles, and the normally dominant back of the bullpen blew a two-run lead against — again — the lowly Orioles.

Brandon Woodruff is a better starting pitcher than Wainwright. And the Brewers have a better ‘pen than St. Louis.

But the Cardinals lineup has a massive advantage. And the way these two teams are trending, I can’t help but back the Cardinals here at any price above +130.


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St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers

pick
Cardinals +125
Books
PointsBet
pitchers
Adam Wainwright vs. Brandon Woodruff
First Pitch
5:14 p.m. ET

Michael Arinze: The Milwaukee Brewers got back to .500 after winning the final two games of their series against the Orioles. Yet, I wouldn’t get too excited, considering that Baltimore is one of three teams with just one win on the season.

Over the past four years, the Brewers’ starting rotation has carried the team — propelling them to a playoff appearance in each of those seasons. However, the 2018 season was the only time Milwaukee’s offense registered an average to above-average wRC+.

Milwaukee’s bats are struggling again to start the year, ranking 20th with a wRC+ of 87. It’s worth noting that Milwaukee’s also not getting the production from its pitching staff as it ranks 21st with a 4.24 ERA. Usually, when it’s this early in the season, the pitchers tend to have the upper hand against hitters. However, with a shortened spring training this year, I think the pitchers are at a disadvantage.

On Thursday, Milwaukee will send Brandon Woodruff to the mound after a rough first start where he allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs. Normally, I’d be looking to back Woodruff to bounce back. However, he also struggled during spring training and allowed 15 runs in 11 2/3 innings.

Woodruff will face a Cardinals team that’s won the past three meetings with him on the mound. Milwaukee’s also 0-6 in his past six starts. Although he finished with a 2.56 ERA in 2021, his 3.31 SIERA might foreshadow the regression we could expect this season.

Given what we know about this abbreviated spring training for pitchers, I’m more inclined to favor teams with better offenses. The Cardinals rank second with a wRC+ value of 153, yet they’re as high as a +125 underdog.

Since my model has this game closer to even money, I think the Cardinals are worth a look, and I would play them down to +115.


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St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers

pick
Brewers-140
Books
BetMGM
pitchers
Adam Wainwright vs. Brandon Woodruff
First Pitch
5:14 p.m. ET

Jules Posner: Brandon Woodruff did not have the best season debut, but he has the ball again in the Brewers’ home opener and he should bounce back.

Woodruff absolutely dominated at home last season to the tune of a 2.31 ERA with a 2.74 FIP in 2021. That tracks with his career splits.

The Brewers’ offense was tasked to open the season with playing in a hostile Wrigley Field against a team with a chip on their shoulder and a newly offense-proofed Camden Yards. Not the best situations to get their offense going.

However, getting back to American Family Field will definitely boost morale and hopefully offensive output.

I am always on board the Adam Wainwright train when he pitches at home, but I will betray him at the drop of a curveball the second he sets foot elsewhere. I am prepared to do that again in this matchup.

Wainwright did pitch well on the road last season, but considering the unbalanced schedule, picking up wins against the Cubs and Pirates on the road is not very impressive at the end of the day.

The Cards have the best offense in MLB in terms of team wRC+ presently, but they have not been challenged the way they’re going to be challenged by Brandon Woodruff yet.

The Brewers ML looks good today.


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Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins

pick
Marlins -115
Books
PointsBet
pitchers
Kyle Gibson vs. Sandy Alcantara
First Pitch
6:40 p.m. ET

DJ James: Sandy Alcantara loves using his slider. He will throw it about 35% of the time. This works out well for him because on the Phillies, only Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber have posted a .330 xwOBA or better against right-handed sliders.

The Marlins, on the other hand, can hit righty cutters and sinkers. Gibson uses these two pitches combined more than 50% of the time. Every batter on the team, except Jon Berti, Miguel Rojas and Payton Henry has a .330+ or ​​better xwOBA on these pitches.

This is a rough matchup for Kyle Gibson, even if he is a savvy veteran and will know his way around the bulk of the Miami lineup.

The Philly bullpen has shown some vast improvements here in the early going, but this should not be a massive edge, considering these are two of the best pitchers on each respective squad.

Given the edge on the offensive side, paired with Alcantara on the bump, the Marlins are the correct side. Take them to -130.


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Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees

pick
Yankees Team Total Over 4.5 (-110)
Books
DraftKings
pitchers
Kevin Gausman vs. Luis Severino
First Pitch
7:05 p.m. ET

Kenny Ducey: Kevin Gausman may have finished sixth in Cy Young voting last year, but it was not thanks to the way he finished the season. The right-hander posted a 4.42 ERA over the second half of 2021 in 15 starts, allowing a .276 batting average and a home run every 26 at-bats on average.

Perhaps regression was coming, given his 3.52 xERA for the season, though that’s not necessarily a bad number even though it’s much higher than the ERA with which he finished the year.

All this is to say, Gausman’s season-opening start, where he allowed three runs on eight hits to the Rangers, is the slightest-bit more concerning considering what we saw late in the season from the righty last year. It’s also worth noting that the offenses he’s going to encounter in the American League are likely going to be more dangerous.

That’s what we have here in the Yankees. While it’s very early, I have to note that New York has posted a 55.2% hard-hit rate and 15.2% barrel rate through six games, which would seem to indicate that they’re unlucky to muster up just 21 runs over that span. Both of those marks lead the major leagues, and they are a nightmarish sight for Gausman, who has been giving up hit after hit since the All-Star break last year.

I don’t want any part of guessing whether or not Luis Severino is back, or fading this Blue Jays offense. With that, I’ll target the total team.


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