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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for July 8

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: July 8, 2021, 10:55 am ET

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Is there anything better than a slate full of baseball? We're especially spoiled this Thursday, and without further ado let's get right down to how to bet them. Here are my best bets on today's slate.

Oakland Athletics (+150) vs. Houston Astros (-180) Total: 9

Lance McCullers loves two things — throwing sinkers, and throwing sliders. McCullers famously once threw over 20 consecutive sliders in a game, and while his love for the pitch isn't quite that strong anymore, he still throws it 23.4% of the time, with the sinker his favorite pitch at 36.8%.

Both of these pitches have worked out quite well for him, with the sinker getting hit to the tune of a .229 batting average while the slider's generated a 39% whiff rate and gone for a hit in just 13.6% of at-bats.

I mention this because the A's have been terrible all season long against these two pitches. They rank 23rd in weighted runs per 100 pitches against the sinker at -1.05, and third-to-last against sliders at -1.4 weighted runs per 100 pitches.

Offense may be tough to find here for the A's, who already come in against an improving McCullers slumping mightily, and that's bad news with Frankie Montas taking the ball. The A's have gone 8-9 in his starts, and some awful peripherals offer little hope of that turning around.

Edge: Astros First Five -0.5 (-125) 

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Colorado Rockies (+115) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-136) Total: 9.5

You can call me a fool, you can call me whatever you want, but I think Jake Faria is good. The righty is getting his second chance in the bigs as a starter after doing a pretty decent job in Tampa Bay but having his career derailed by injuries and mediocre pitching.

With that being said, his curveball is becoming a real weapon, and he's done a decent job so far in two starts (and five total appearances) for Arizona. His ERA shot up to a brutal 5.25 after a tough four-inning, four-run outing against the imposing Giants, but prior to that he had little issue. His expected ERA of 3.72 according to Statcast would point to the fact that he's just gotten the slightest bit unlucky.

As long as Faria can be decent here, I think the Diamondbacks should win comfortably. Chi Chi Gonzalez may be one of the five worst pitchers in the game right now with a 6.51 xERA and just a 12.9% strikeout rate, and even the Diamondbacks can deal with him. This is a team that has talent, but has battled injuries all year, and I think Arizona gets a rare win.

Edge: Diamondbacks -136

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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.