Thursday Night MLB on MLB Network Picks

Fans will be treated to regional action on Thursday night as MLB Network will have two games running simultaneously. Depending on your location, you will either be treated to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the Baltimore Orioles or the Cincinnati Reds at the Miami Marlins.

Matchup: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Baltimore Orioles

Date/Time: July 31, 7:05 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: LAA: Tyler Skaggs (5-5, 4.49) v. BAL: Bud Norris (8-7, 3.94)

Moneyline: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -113

Total: 9 -105/-115

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will look to salvage a game in this series on Thursday night as the Baltimore Orioles look for a sweep of the current Wild Card leaders. The Orioles picked up their second one-run win of the series on Wednesday night with a 4-3 triumph thanks to seven quality innings from Kevin Gausman and some strong relief work from Darren O’Day and Zach Britton.

Looking to avoid a sweep, the Angels will send Tyler Skaggs to the mound. Skaggs returned earlier this month from a DL stint that cost him most of the month of June and he has posted a 1-1 record with a 4.83 ERA in the month of July. Since finishing April with a 3.34 ERA, Skaggs has posted a 5.03 ERA in 12 starts covering May, June, and July, so it has definitely been a tough road for the southpaw of late. Opposing batters are hitting .284 against Skaggs in that span.

Bud Norris has only made seven starts since the month of May ended and he has a 3.79 ERA in that span, which covers 40.1 innings of work. It has been an interesting season for Norris, who has seen his strikeout rate drop significantly over the last two seasons, but he has a home ERA of 3.02 in what is considered to be a pretty good hitter’s park. Compare that with a 4.66 ERA on the road and it’s clear that Norris has been a bit inconsistent this season.

Skaggs, who is experiencing his first season in the American League after being acquired from Arizona, has never faced the Orioles. On the season, Skaggs is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA on the road compared to a 1-2 record and a 5.27 ERA at home. The Angels are 11-6 in Skaggs’s 17 starts for exactly three units of profit.

Norris will be facing the Angels for the sixth time in his career and he has been brilliant against them with a perfect 4-0 record in five starts with a 0.52 ERA. All five starts have come over the last two seasons and he threw 6.2 innings of one-run ball earlier this year. The Orioles are 10-7 for 3.42 units of profit in his 17 starts this season.

Free MLB Pick: Baltimore

For as dominant as the Angels are at home (38-19), they’re a pedestrian team on the road (25-24) and Skaggs has been rather inconsistent throughout the season. The Orioles are clicking on all cylinders right now and Norris has been a solid pitcher at home and has fared well against the Angels hitters in recent meetings.

Matchup: Cincinnati Reds at Miami Marlins

Date/Time: July 31, 7:10 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: CIN: Johnny Cueto (11-6, 2.08) v. MIA: Tom Koehler (7-7, 3.91)

Moneyline: Cincinnati -120

Total: 6.5 -110/-110

The Reds and Marlins kick off a four-game series on Thursday night with a premier pitching matchup as Johnny Cueto takes on Tom Koehler in a series that means a lot to both teams. The Reds are fading fast in both the NL Central and the Wild Card standings, while the Marlins won six in a row to get back to .500 before having their streak snapped by the Washington Nationals on Wednesday afternoon.

Johnny Cueto will toe the rubber for the Reds as they look to stop the bleeding. The Reds have lost 10 out of 12 since the All-Star Break and have turned themselves into an afterthought in the NL Central. Cueto has been brilliant this season with a 2.08 ERA overall and he’s been consistent throughout the season, never ending a game with an ERA above 2.18. In 10 starts since the end of May, Cueto has a 6-2 record and a 2.64 ERA.

The Marlins will counter Cueto with Tom Koehler, who has fared well at home this season. In 59 home innings, Koehler has a 2.75 ERA compared to a 4.96 ERA on the road over 65.1 innings of work. Regression hit Koehler hard starting in mid-May, as he has posted a 5.01 ERA over his last 14 starts. In July, Koehler is 2-1 with a 4.67 ERA.

Cueto will be taking on the Marlins for the sixth time in his career. He’s 2-1 in his previous five starts, but has struggled with a 5.27 ERA. Cueto hasn’t faced the Marlins since 2012. On the season, the Reds are 13-9 in Cueto’s 22 starts for a profit of 3.37 units.

Koehler will be facing the Reds for the third time in his career, however, it will be his first career start against them. In two previous relief appearances, Koehler has no decisions with 3.1 scoreless innings to his name. The Marlins are 10-11 for a profit of 1.88 units in Koehler’s 21 starts.

Free MLB Pick: Cincinnati

It’s exceptionally hard to go against Johnny Cueto as such a small favorite, even though the Reds are in a serious funk right now. Things aren’t going well and there are plenty of injuries in the lineup, but it’s hard to see the Reds needing a lot of run support for Cueto and Koehler has really struggled over his last 14 starts, just as the advanced metrics predicted.

Adam Burke

Adam Burke

Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.