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BETTING

MLB Computer Picks for July 8: Underdog Rays Have Run Line Value

Taj Bradley Tampa Bay Rays Baltimore Orioles
Taj Bradley 45 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a game against the Baltimore Orioles Mike EhrmannGetty ImagesAFP

Who’s the best team in baseball? It’s not the Tampa Bay Rays anymore; they dropped five straight to fall three games behind Atlanta in the overall MLB standings. It was fun while it lasted.

Granted, Tampa’s plus-149 run differential heading into Friday’s action was still two runs better than Atlanta’s – but also four runs worse than the Texas Rangers, so the Rays aren’t No. 1 in that department either.

Now that they’ve been knocked down a peg, maybe Tampa Bay will resume their previous role as a small-market value pick. The computers at OddsTrader seem to think so; if we’re interpreting their projections correctly, the Rays are the best value on Saturday night’s slate.

Picks Summary


Atlanta Braves vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Saturday, July 8, 2023 – 07:15 PM EDT at Tropicana Field


Was Tampa Bay playing above their heads all along? Were they destined to fall back down to earth? Maybe not. That plus-149 differential translates to a Pythagorean record of 60-30, three wins better than their Actual record of 57-33 (plus-4.28 betting units).

The Rays are 14-15 this year in games decided by one run, so we’ll have to blame something else for that three-game difference, but chances are this is still one of the best teams in the majors.

Just not the best. Indeed, looking at the past 30 days in isolation, Tampa’s batting order ranks No. 14 on the WAR charts at FanGraphs; Atlanta’s is first.

Tampa Bay’s pitching staff is also a pedestrian 11th in FanGraphs WAR this past month – six spots higher than Atlanta, but not enough to make up for their deficit at the plate.

On top of that, the Rays are sending No. 4 starter Taj Bradley to the mound opposite Atlanta’s ace, Spencer Strider. It’s a tough spot for the home side, but the OT computers say they’ll only lose 5.3 runs to 4.6, so that makes Tampa our official computer-approved pick on the run line.

We think the Rays can keep the game even closer than that. Bradley has that familiar cavernous gap between his 5.27 ERA and 3.19 xFIP that might be messing those projections up a little. Spencer (3.66 ERA, 2.86 xFIP) may be undervalued as well, but not to the same extent. Let’s take advantage.

MLB Pick: Rays +1.5 (+110) at Bet365


Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Guardians

Saturday, July 8, 2023 – 04:10 PM EDT at Progressive Field


We return to the former Jacobs Field for Game 3 of this four-game set between the Guardians and Royals; Cleveland was in our baseball picks for Game 2, which has yet to get underway at press time, but we’re switching to the Under for Saturday’s contest.

It’s a 17-star adamantium lock as far as the computers are concerned. They’ve got Cleveland (Under 50-33-4) beating Kansas City (Under 46-41-1) 3.9 runs to 2.9, a staggeringly low sum that may need some human editing:

  • Brady Singer, KCR: 5.52 ERA, 4.53 xFIP
  • Gavin Williams, CLE: 3.79 ERA, 5.06 xFIP

There you have it. Based on these particular numbers, we can definitely see Kansas City scoring more runs than expected. However, Williams will only be making the fourth start of his big-league career, so a small sample size is very much in play here. We’ll recommend a suitably small bet size for your protection.

MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook


Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Saturday, July 8, 2023 – 04:10 PM EDT at American Family Field


It’s those fun-loving Cincinnati Reds (Over 51-37) again. They’re still first in the National League Central standings, and ready to start another lengthy winning streak after stringing together five in a row. But we’re here for the hitting, which ranks fourth overall on the FanGraphs WAR charts since Elly De La Cruz (.905 OPS) made his MLB debut on June 6.

Milwaukee (Under 45-39-4) could spoil things for us. The Brewers are No. 20 in hitting WAR during the same span, although they’ll be giving Colin Rea (4.40 ERA, 4.56 xFIP) the nod this Saturday opposite Luke Weaver (6.72 ERA, 4.84 xFIP).

From a value perspective, we’d rather not see that inflated ERA next to Weaver’s name; it’s probably one of the reasons the OT computers see Milwaukee winning 6.1 runs to 4.4. We also don’t know at press time whether the roof at American Family Field will be open or closed.

Then again, neither of these two pitchers has dominated this year, and the Over still has some value at these betting odds, so bet accordingly – the computers have spoken.

MLB Pick: Over 9.5 (+105) at Caesars Sportsbook


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