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MLB Thursday best bets: Phillies to take out struggling Pirates

Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Wednesday was a tough one for our best bets. The San Diego Padres had the Detroit Tigers down to their final strike before blowing the game. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays laid an egg against a watered-down St. Louis Cardinals team.

We'll look to get back on track with two more plays for Thursday night.

Phillies (-190) @ Pirates (+160)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have dropped three games in a row and eight of their last 10 overall.

A lot of their struggles stem from an inability to hit and produce runs. They've scored more than three just three times - and more than four only once - during this rough patch.

They've been especially bad hitting against righties, posting a truly miserable .254 wOBA and .85 ISO over their last 216 plate appearances.

A date with Zack Wheeler isn't exactly what the doctor ordered for a team struggling at the dish. Although he hasn't been as untouchable over the last month, his numbers are still strong across the board. Wheeler's struck out nearly eight batters per nine, walked just over one per nine, and allowed hard contact only 24% of the time.

The Pirates, to nobody's surprise, rank dead last in hard-hit rate versus righties over the last two weeks. This hardly seems like a get-right spot.

If Pittsburgh again scores three runs or fewer, the Philadelphia Phillies might breeze to a multi-run victory.

Zach Thompson owns a 4.67 FIP and 5.07 ERA over the last 30 days. In that time, he's walked nearly as many batters as he's struck out. He's also allowed a ton of hard contact, with only two of Thursday's projected starters giving up more.

The Phillies haven't been piling up runs, but they've generated plenty of hard contact of late, especially against right-handed arms. They sit ninth in hard-hit rate over the last two weeks.

Philadelphia should frequently be able to get good wood on the ball against Thompson, which should lead to more than enough run support for Wheeler.

Bet: Phillies -1.5 (-115)

Tigers (+190) @ Blue Jays (-220)

This game has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. While the Blue Jays were an offensive dud Wednesday night, they've been as hot as anybody at the plate for a while now. They're more than capable of putting up runs in bulk, especially at home.

Tyler Alexander hasn't pitched as well as advertised as of late (1.38 ERA, 4.12 FIP) and could be in for some hard regression against this Blue Jays roster. Even if he successfully opens the game, an offense like Toronto's should be able to score over a long stretch of innings versus a bullpen.

Where this game gets interesting is when the Tigers are at the dish. Yusei Kikuchi has struggled mightily all season long, posting a 5.12 ERA and 5.82 FIP while allowing nearly two long balls per nine innings.

He's been susceptible to blowups against just about anybody. Although the Tigers aren't exactly loaded with household names, they're potent against left-handed pitchers.

This month, the Tigers rank fourth in wOBA behind only the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Seattle Mariners. Pretty good company.

Their power numbers haven't been great, but they've shown the ability to string together hits and draw walks.

Kikuchi should bring some of that power out - he allows hard contact more than 40% of the time - and play into their discipline at the dish, as he has a walk rate of nearly 14% this season.

Look for both teams to contribute their fair share in this one.

Bet: Over 9 (+100)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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