With the Stanley Cup Final and NBA Finals in the rearview mirror, the dog days of summer are upon us. MLB handicapper Dalton Brown is back with two more best bets on Thursday's baseball slate.
8:05 p.m. ET: Anaheim Angels at Texas Rangers: Rangers moneyline (-120) at WynnBet
The Anaheim Angels and Texas Rangers will finish up their four-game series from Arlington Thursday night, and I'm backing Texas to come out on top in a battle of aces.
Shohei Ohtani will get the ball for the Angels, a pitcher most would be very hesitant to fade. I would be too under normal circumstances, but the hard-throwing righty has quietly been struggling for about six weeks. Ohtani (5-2, 3.32 ERA) has surrendered three or more earned runs in six of eight starts dating back to the end of April, and he's struggled with command of late as he's issued three or more walks in three of his last four. That type of form will not get it done against Texas - the Rangers have been the No. 1 offense in baseball against right-handed pitching over the last month with a wRC+ of 121.
The Rangers will send ace Nathan Eovaldi to the mound, a pitcher who has merited that title much more often of late than Ohtani. Eovaldi (9-2, 2.45 ERA) has held six of his last eight opponents to a run or fewer, including eight shutout innings on the road in Anaheim in early April.
Texas is undervalued here because of Shohei Ohtani's name. Let's take advantage of the opportunity to bet one of baseball's best teams at home as a very small favorite.
8:10 p.m. ET: Washington Nationals at Houston Astros: Astros -1.5 (-110) at BetMGM
The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros will finish their three-game interleague series Thursday night from Minute Maid Park, and this one is a mismatch across the board. Houston holds sizable advantages in starting pitching, bullpens, and offensive firepower in this game's splits.
The Nationals have tabbed MacKenzie Gore (3-5, 4.04 ERA) to start, a young lefty who has been getting drilled of late. Gore has surrendered at least one home run in five straight starts, putting him in a precarious position pitching on the road in Minute Maid Park's tiny dimensions. Overall, the lefty has allowed three or more earned runs in four of five starts, and he's taking on an Astros team that ranks fifth in MLB with a ridiculous wRC+ of 125 against southpaws over the last month.
Righty Cristian Javier (7-1, 3.13 ERA) is well-positioned to continue his dominant ways against the light-hitting Nationals, a team that ranks in the bottom 10 in baseball versus righties. Javier has been as consistent as any pitcher in baseball in 2023, allowing exactly one earned run in four of his last five starts. He hasn't picked up a loss since April 29 vs. Philadelphia.
Houston's bullpen has a significant advantage as well, posting a 3.02 ERA over the last month (seventh-best in MLB) while Washington's unit ranks dead-last in the league over that span (5.78). The Astros will have ample opportunity to increase their lead in the late innings if needed, but they might just put this one away early.