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MLB Thursday best bets: Blue Jays to right ship vs. Rangers

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We have a small card in front of us Thursday night, as just five games are scheduled for the slate.

Luckily, there's still plenty of value on the board as we look to rebound from our first losing night (1-2) of the week.

Rangers (+135) @ Blue Jays (-155)

The Blue Jays have completely no-showed through the first three games of their series against the Rangers. They haven't just lost; they've been embarrassed, losing by 22 runs in aggregate.

I expect a much better effort Thursday night. Sweeps are generally rare over a four-game set, especially when we're not looking at an absurdly lopsided matchup like the Braves versus the Athletics.

I don't see the Blue Jays being an exception to the rule. Not when they're desperate for a result. Not when they're starting to get healthy at the dish. And not when their ace, Kevin Gausman, is taking the hill against a much inferior counterpart.

Although Gausman has allowed at least three runs in three of his past five games, his profile still looks good. He's throwing a lot of strikes, inducing swings and misses at a healthy rate, and his xwOBA (.294) is quite good. It's only a matter of time before the results align with his strong process.

It's a much different story with Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi. He's allowed eight hits, 11 baserunners, and four earned runs through 3.2 innings since returning from injury.

Eovaldi hasn't looked sharp, and it'll likely take some time before he returns to his usual self.

Look for Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and some of the cold stars on the Blue Jays to take things up a notch offensively.

With any sort of run support, Gausman should be able to see a lead through five innings.

Bet: Blue Jays F5 -0.5 (-110)

Kyle Bradish over 16.5 outs

Bradish is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. He has conceded two runs or fewer in 14 of his past 16 starts and nine straight on home soil.

As you'd expect from someone giving up next to nothing to opposing offenses, Bradish has routinely pitched very deep into games as a byproduct of his success. He's registered at least 17 outs in 13 of the past 14 contests, a 93% hit rate.

There's nothing in the data to leave cause for concern moving forward. Bradish's underlying profile is near spotless, with the talented righty owning a 33.3% strikeout rate over the past month while sporting a .263 xwOBA.

That's the best mark among Thursday's projected starters, which is saying something when Gausman, Logan Webb, and Eury Pérez fit into that group.

Although the Rays are heating up at the dish, the likes of Clarke Schmidt and Cal Quantrill recently pitched into the seventh inning against them. Bradish should flirt with six full innings in his current form.

Odds: -120 (playable to -135)

Aaron Civale under 1.5 walks

There is a lot to like with this play. For one, Civale has a pretty good track record at avoiding walks. He's gone under the number in nine of his past 13 starts.

Everything looks good beneath the hood as well. Civale has thrown balls 32.4% of the time over the past month, 3% below the league average. That's a good sign.

Tampa has also put together masterful game plans against the Orioles this season. The Rays' starting staff has issued only five walks against Baltimore through six head-to-head meetings. That's not even one per game.

It's not a matter of the Orioles jumping all over the opposing starters and routinely chasing them early. All but one completed at least five innings, and the starter lasted six innings or more in four of them.

Civale is showing a lot of control on the mound, and the analytically inclined Rays seem to know what to do - and what not to do - against this lethal Orioles attack. I expect another low walk count in this game.

Odds: -125 (playable to -135)

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

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