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Are we sleeping on the Orioles? The second-worst team in baseball last year has been MLB's best bet in 2020, winning four straight with a 9-7 record entering Thursday's matchup with the Phillies - who, coincidentally, have been one of the worst bets thus far.
Oddsmakers have faith in Arrieta, who's been sharp across two starts against the Yankees and Braves. But can we trust the sample size? The 34-year-old was awful to end 2019 and is getting hit as hard as ever this season. Even his strikeout rate (24.4%) is a bit fluky, as he isn't really generating swinging strikes or getting batters to chase.
He could have his work cut out for him against a Baltimore lineup that's been sizzling of late. The Orioles have plated 43 runs over the last six games, getting the better of starters such as Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler. Their BABIP (.300) is a bit higher than the league average, but Arrieta has one of the highest contact rates (85.7%) in the majors, which should suit their red-hot order perfectly.
Sure, Baltimore's luck may run out Thursday, and Eshelman is hardly an ace on whom a team should rely. But this price is too good to pass up, and until the Orioles start losing, it's worth backing MLB's most profitable team.
Pick: Orioles (+165)
If you're hesitant about betting the Orioles, try the Cubs, who have been baseball's second-most profitable team thus far with an MLB-best 12-3 start. They should be at their best Thursday behind Darvish, who's been nearly unhittable over his last few outings.
The 33-year-old veteran got roughed up in his first start of 2020 but has been masterful since, allowing just one run in his last 13 innings with a 13-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that span. The advanced stats support the legitimacy of that performance - his fastball spin rate is in the 98th percentile, helping him attack the strike zone without giving up easy contact.
It's a great combination against a Brewers team that struggles to make contact in the zone and strikes out nearly 28% of the time. Milwaukee will need to provide run support for Anderson, who has been unimpressive in two short outings and has an expected ERA above 5.00 for the fourth time in the last five years.
If Anderson turns it over to reliever Corbin Burnes before it's too late, the young flamethrower could take advantage of the Cubs' swing-happy approach and match wits with Chicago's iffy bullpen. Still, a few innings of Anderson is enough to put the Brewers in an early hole, and Darvish should keep it that way long enough to cash a first-five ticket.
Pick: Cubs first five innings -0.5 (-125)
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.