MLB Thursday best bets: Road warriors
We have a small slate ahead of us tonight with just seven games to look forward to.
Let's dig into a couple of my favorites as we try to build on Wednesday night's split.
Graham Ashcraft has pitched well for the Reds since joining the rotation full time. The 24-year-old owns a 3.72 FIP and 3.82 ERA through five starts in June. Ashcraft hasn't struck out a ton of batters (18.3 K%), but he's walked just 2.4% of his opponents. He's also inducing a ton of ground balls and allowing minimal hard contact.
It's also worth mentioning that Ashcraft's BABIP and runners-left-on-base numbers align with where they should be, suggesting his solid outputs aren't attributed to luck.
The Cubs have struck out nearly 24% of the time against righties over the last couple of weeks, and they sit 26th in ISO during that time. They've also posted the fourth-highest ground ball percentage. Chicago doesn't profile as a team that should give Ashcraft a ton of trouble.
On the flip side, this is a good spot for the Reds offense. Kyle Hendricks has pitched much better lately, but he's been a disaster for a large chunk of the season. He also has a horrendous history against Cincinnati.
Through 139 plate appearances, Hendricks has allowed Reds hitters to record a .328 batting average and .444 wOBA. Those numbers are astronomically high.
The ballpark environment for this game is also conducive to hitters with balls carrying further than usual. That favors Cincinnati as Ashcraft has conceded fly balls 22.4% of the time over the last month compared to Hendricks' 44.8%.
Look for the Reds to bounce back with a win.
Bet: Reds (+105)
Joe Musgrove is a fantastic pitcher in fantastic form. He's striking out a fair amount of batters, conceding few walks, and limiting the danger on the balls he's allowed in play.
Musgrove is doing an excellent job of keeping balls in the dirt and owns a 61.1% ground ball rate over the last month. That's good for the top spot among Thursday's projected starters.
The 29-year-old has also posted a hard-hit rate of 18.1% over the last month. For perspective, Ashcraft is the only other projected starter with a hard-hit rate below 28% in that time.
I'm not suggesting Musgrove is going to completely neuter the Dodgers offense, but he checks all the boxes necessary to go out there and put forth a quality start against them.
If Musgrove can handle his own business, the Padres have a real shot at winning this game. They have absolutely mashed right-handed pitching lately, especially away from their own park.
San Diego leads the majors in wOBA (.383) and strikeout rate (17.1%) on the road in June. The club is also top five in ISO (.212) and hard-hit rate (38.5%).
Mitch White is probably going to have a hard time slowing them down.
Bet: Padres (+115)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.