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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for August 26

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: August 26, 2021, 2:43 pm ET

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We have a great slate of baseball on Thursday, bringing us one step closer to the weekend and delivering us some enjoyment as we get through the penultimate weeknight. I've got my eyes on a couple of plays and will get to them now.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-136) vs. San Diego Padres (+115) Total: 7.5

If this were 2017, 2018, or even the first half of 2021, a pitching matchup between Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer would be must-see TV. Instead, it'll probably be the latest disappointment for a team with such high aspirations this season.

The Padres have now dropped 11 of 13, and have to be holding their breath every time Darvish takes the mound. The veteran has pitched to a 6.52 ERA in August after posting a 7.36 ERA in July, giving up a home run in seven straight starts dating back to June 27th. Over that span, he's yielded a whopping 11 longballs, and he hasn't been quite the same since the league's announced crackdown on foreign substances and his subsequent dip in spin rate.

While Darvish has still flashed some strikeout upside lately, he's giving up far too many hits and has fallen victim to the homer. That's just what the Dodgers, who have struggled at the plate over the last two weeks but still own an elite ISO over that span, want to hear.

They should be able to get to Darvish with the way he's throwing and the way they're hitting homers. That should be more than enough for Scherzer, who's been red hot, against one of the coldest lineups in all of baseball.

Edge: Dodgers -136

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New York Yankees (-115) vs. Oakland Athletics (-105)

If the Yankees hadn't won 11 straight games, I'd feel much more confident about taking them in Oakland on Thursday. That's the funny thing about betting. The fact is, though, they're in a great spot.

Sort of like what's going on with Darvish, James Kaprielian has allowed an awful lot of hard-hit balls this year, although he's managed to avoid tough outings and home runs. That will probably come to a halt against a Yankees team with the fifth-best wRC+ in baseball over the last two weeks and a barrel rate over that span that's 3% higher than the next-best team at nearly 12%.

The bats should have a field day against a pitcher who's so prone to homers and hard-hit balls, and the Yankees' hurler, Jameson Taillon, should have one too. The righty has been one of the best pitchers in baseball in the second half of the season with a 1.99 ERA and will face a sputtering offense that hasn't produced the level of power we're used to seeing. Guys like Jed Lowrie have really fallen off the pace, and Matt Chapman has cooled down following a minor injury.

Everything should be working in the Yankees' favor here, and this is a fantastic price to get them at.

Edge: Yankees -115

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.