Just four days remain of the regular season! There are still playoff spots to be played for and the action is heating up. We have made our best MLB picks for the top five games scheduled for Thursday, September 30th.
Look below to find our free MLB Picks for the five best games on today’s schedule!
Milwaukee Brewers @ St Louis Cardinals – 1.15PM EDT
The Milwaukee Brewers finally did it. They ended the St Louis Cardinals winning streak! With both sides secured into their postseason seed, the final game of this series means nothing more than pride for the winner.
Given they had secured their spot in the postseason and can’t move from that second Wild Card slot, it isn’t surprising to see the Cardinals take their foot off the gas and start preparing for a potential sudden death playoff with either the Dodgers, likely option, or Giants next week. With the Brewers also settled into the #2 seed in the National League, this series has now turned into a fizzer, with neither side needing to go out and win, or even perform well.
Looking at this afternoon’s game, St Louis should have the edge and I am happy to pick them to bounce back. While J.A. Happ’s ERA is worse than Brett Anderson’s, 5.86 to 4.30 respectively, Happ has a 9-8 record while Anderson’s record is just 4-9. That indicates that the St Louis batting lineup is much better equipped to overcome some early runs from the other team, backing up Happ despite his, at times, wayward pitching. The Cardinals have shown over the last three weeks that they are a force to be reckoned with and I expect them to return to that form in this one.
Tim’s MLB Pick: St Louis Cardinals (-116)
𝐍𝐋 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐬
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 26, 2021
Well it was simply amazing to watch while it lasted, but the Cardinals mammoth 17 game winning streak has come to an end. The Brewers ended up beating the Cardinals 4-0 last time out, and continue to find just a smidge of form before the postseason kicks off. The Brewers have won none of their previous four games played on Thursday, but they have won 22 of their previous 30 when it comes to the third game of the series. The Cardinals have won 19 of their previous 26 when it comes to the third game of the series, and they have won four of their previous five games played on a Thursday.
All good things must come to an end, but at least that extensive run has secured a Wild Card spot of the Cardinals. Both the Brewers and the Cardinals will be playing in this year’s playoffs. Even though they didn’t score any runs last time out, I’m still going to stick with the Cardinals. Happ had a little bit of a rough patch, but he has now found his groove with three earned on eight hits and six walks in just over 13 innings. On the other hand, Anderson hasn’t had too much game time recently, and I think the Cardinals can take advantage of this.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: St Louis Cardinals (-116)
The Cardinals finally fell in a lopsided win by the Brewers. After securing the final Wild Card spot, and catching the Dodgers who have the first Wild Card spot being mathematically impossible, look for the Cardinals to rest their starters after a phenomenal run. The Cardinals will likely rest their best players over the next few games before the playoffs.
This is evident by the Cardinals starting J.A Happ who has only played 47 innings this year. Happ has a 3.97 ERA and 1.26 WHIP this year leading to a decent 4-2 record and was a key part of the Cardinals’ winning streak. Look for the Cardinals to start more relief pitchers from their bullpen before the playoffs. The Brewers will be starting Brett Anderson who has been decent with a 4.3 ERA and 1.39 WHIP but a woeful 4-9 record. The Pitching situation is definitely unpredictable with these 2 starters but I’m leaning towards the Cardinals by a tight margin due to Happ.
Mike’s MLB Pick: St Louis Cardinals (-116)
Boston Red Sox @ Baltimore Orioles – 7.05PM EDT
The Boston Red Sox fought back in the second game of this series, winning 6-0 to level it at 1-1. With Seattle’s continued form, Boston is only half a game above them in the race for the last Wild Card slot, meaning every win is vital with just four days to go in the regular season.
Given the Red Sox need wins to stay afloat in the Wild Card race in the American League, it is interesting to see them starting Nick Pivetta for this one. Despite a 9-7 record for the season, Pivetta’s ERA is 4.52 and when looking at his recent form, his ERA goes out to 5.23 over his last seven games. He has given up 18 runs on 33 hits in 31 innings of work over that stretch, and may give Baltimore, who won the series opener, a chance at stealing this.
However, when looking at the other side of this matchup, Boston should put some runs on the board. Baltimore is starting Alexander Wells for this game and that is a good sign for Red Sox batters. Wells is in his first season in the majors, coming from Australia, and has only seen 10 games this season, with seven of those being starts. His 1-3 record and 7.61 ERA only gets worse when looking at his recent form, which is 0-3 and a 8.89 ERA over his last season. The Aussie has given up 26 runs on a massive 40 hits in 26.1 innings over work over that seven game stretch and should give Boston a chance at putting a massive total on the board.
The Red Sox are currently occupying the second and final Wild Card spot in the AL, and have a number of teams that could snatch their postseason hopes from right under their noses. But the good news is that they are playing against the Orioles, who have one of the worst records in the league this year, so theoretically, the Red Sox should win. The Red Sox have won just four of their previous 15 games on the road when playing against a left handed starter, and they have won nine of their previous 13 games played on a Thursday.
The Orioles have won just 13 of their previous 53 games in total and they have won only five of their previous 16 when it comes to the third game of a series. After a shaky start in the first game, which actually saw the Orioles win, the Red Sox hit back straight away and won the second game. With two teams one game behind them in the Wild Card race, the Red Sox really need to get this win, and I think they are good enough to do so.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox -1.5 (-140)
The Red Sox need another win as they try to build a lead between themselves and the Seattle Mariners who are just half a game behind them. The Red shot themselves in the foot losing the first game of their series against the league worst, Baltimore Orioles. Without a strong finish to the season, including this crucial win against the Orioles, the Red Sox could slip out of the playoffs. In this game they shouldn’t have too many issues as they face Alexander Wells.
Wells has been bad in limited time with a 7.62 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, leading to a 1-3 record. Wells has only played 36 innings so his stats may not be the best indicator of how he may play. However, Wells will be facing a strong Boston batting unit and may struggle. The Red Sox will be starting Nick Pivetta who has been average this season with a 4.52 ERA and 1.31 WHIP leading to a 9-7 record. Although this doesn’t inspire much confidence, he does have 10 allowed runs and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings against the Orioles which is decent. Pivetta, along with a strong batting group should dispose of the Orioles.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox -1.5 (-140)
New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays – 7.07PM EDT
In what was a spectacular showcase of batting at its finest, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 6-5 and kept their season alive. New York is above the cut off line by one game while the Blue Jays are below it by one game, meaning this, the final game of the series, is vital for both clubs.
The Blue Jays have more to play for in this clash and I think that will be reflected in the final result. If Toronto wins this game, they bring themselves even closer to sneaking into the playoffs with that last American League Wild Card. All they can do is put pressure on Boston and New York, the two current Wild Card holders, and I expect them to do that tonight, especially with Robbie Ray starting on the mound.
I have mentioned it every time he starts but Ray is one of the best starters in the league and gives Toronto a chance to win every game he pitches in. Over his last seven games, with the season on the line, Ray has produced a 4-1 record with a 2.32 ERA. Over that seven game period Ray has given up just 11 runs across 42.2 innings of work, and should be able to restrict the New York offense from putting a decent total up early. Add in the fact that the Yankees are starting Corey Kluber, who has a 2-1 record and 4.24 ERA over his last seven games, and I am all over Toronto to keep their season alive.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Toronto Blue Jays (-134)
WHAT. A. GAME. 🔥
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 30, 2021
The Yankees continue to hold onto the top Wild Card spot in the AL, while the Blue Jays are currently fighting it out with a couple of teams, the Red Sox are clinging onto the second Wild Card spot, and the Blue Jays are just one game behind. The Blue Jays did what they needed to do last time out and got the win against the Yankees, 6-5, but will they have enough games left to overtake the Red Sox, and fend off the Mariners for a spot in the playoffs? The Yankees have won all five of their previous clashes when going up against a left handed starter, and they have won two of their previous seven when it comes to the third game of a series.
The Blue Jays have won 13 of their previous 16 when it comes to the third game of a series, and they have won 16 of their previous 23 when playing a team in the AL East. The Blue Jays need the win and they are turning to their best pitcher to get the job done, and with the help of their offense, I think the Blue Jays are in for another win, and greatly improve their chances of staying in the hunt for the playoffs.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: Toronto Blue Jays (-134)
The Blue Jays face the Yankees once again after a tight win. The Blue Jays sit just one game behind the Red Sox for the final Wild Card spot and desperately need to pull out a win to stay in the tight race. The Yankees will also need a win as they lead the Red Sox by just 1 game for the first WIld Card spot. If the Yankees falter down the stretch, they could find themselves going from the first Wild Card spot to completely out of the playoffs. The Blue Jays will be bringing it to try to win this game to keep their hopes alive.
The Blue Jays are starting Robbie Ray who has a 2.68 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 244 strikeouts in 188 innings. Ray is top 5 in most pitching statistics and has been great this year with a 13-6 record. The Yankees will be starting Corey Kluber who has significantly less playing time with just 75 innings played. Kluber has a 3.82 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 80 strikeouts this season leading to a respectable 5-3 record. I think that Ray will have a good game against the Yankees middle ground batting unit, and ultimately help the Blue Jays win this game.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Toronto Blue Jays (-134)
Tampa Bay Rays @ Houston Astros – 7.10PM EDT
While this series won’t impact postseason seeding at all, it is potentially a preview of the American League Championship Series. The Tampa Bay Rays were able to beat the Houston Astros 7-0 last night to level this three game series at 1-1, with tonight’s game deciding the series winner and who takes bragging rights into the playoffs.
This is an interesting clash between the two top teams in the American League and I am siding with the Astros to win the game, the series and take the mental edge into the postseason. Houston is still the second favorite to win the World Series, behind the Dodgers, and the sportsbooks have them there for a reason. Their batting power is top three in the league and while their bullpen can be hit and miss, it clearly hits more than it misses.
Why I think Houston has the edge is that Tampa Bay is starting Collin McHugh, who has seen 35 games but only started in six, while the Astros have one of their best starters, Lance McCullers Jr, with ball in hand first up. McHugh may be yet to give up a run in any of his starts but he hasn’t lasted more than two innings in any, pitching 11 total innings across those six starts. Meanwhile McCullers Jr has pitched 41.2 innings over his last seven games, giving up just 14 runs with a 3-1 record and 3.02 ERA. Houston has the experience edge in starting pitcher, and also has a point to prove with the bat, given Tampa has overtaken them for most runs for the season and leads by two, I expect Houston to come out strong for this clash.
This series is all leveled up a one game apiece after the Rays dominated and kept the Astros scoreless in the second game, while piling on seven runs of their own. The Astors have the Mariners in the AL West, who are four games behind them, so they haven’t been officially confirmed for the postseason, and need to be careful they don’t slip into a losing streak. The Rays have been a confirmed postseason team for a while now, but that hasn’t stopped them from keeping their foot on the pedal and showing other teams just how good they are.
The Rays have won 41 of their previous 60 when it comes to the third game of a series, and they have won six of their previous seven games played on a Thursday. The Astros have won 15 of their previous 21 games played on a Thursday, and they have won four of their previous five when it comes to the third game of a series. McCullers Jr has pitched well in his last four games, and even though the Astors have lost in his last two starts, I think this is the game he gets the win. Third time’s the charm? I hope so
Katherine’s MLB Pick: Houston Astros (-170)
The Rays will be playing their potential playoff opponent, the Houston Astros. With the Mariners just 3.5 games behind them, the Astros have all but locked in their AL West title. The Astros will be playing to maintain the 2nd seed in the playoffs as they sit just one game ahead of the White Sox in the standings. The Rays on the other hand have clinched the conference and are the definitive number 1 seed so they won’t have too much to worry about or play for in this game.
Despite this, the Rays will be starting Collin McHugh who has an insane 1.6 ERA and 0.95 WHIP this season in 62 innings. Although this is a limited sample size he has been phenomenal and led the Rays to a 6-1 record. McHugh is a Wild Card and will be a key piece to get going before the playoffs. Look for the Rays to use this game against this tough unit to get McHugh ready for the playoffs. The Astros will also be taking this game seriously by starting Lance McCullers Jr who has a good 3.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 181 strikeouts in 156 innings. McCullers has been a reliable weapon for the Astros. Although it is a tossup for me, I think the Astros should win this one.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Houston Astros (-170)
San Diego Padres @ Los Angeles Dodgers – 10.10PM EDT
This NL West series means nothing for the San Diego Padres, other than their pride, but means everything for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are still two games back from the Giants for top of the division. This is the difference between home-field advantage throughout the playoffs or having to play in a sudden death Wild Card playoff next week, so you best believe the Dodgers will come out firing.
All the Dodgers can do is keep on winning, putting pressure on the Giants not to slip up. However, they are making it hard for themselves. Heading into the eighth innings, LA trailed 6-9 but a five-run eighth inning, including four homers, put them in front and they stole the game from under the Padres’ noses.
Looking at tonight’s clash, they should win again. Barring any slip ups, the Dodgers should win this comfortably, based on it being a home game and who each team has starting. San Diego have Vince Velasquez starting and he brings a 3-8 record and 6.22 ERA along with him. When looking at his three games for the Padres, after starting the season in Philadelphia, Velasquez is 0-2 with a massive 9.00 ERA, giving up nine runs across just eight innings of work. That should give LA the early advantage for this clash and they should be able to hold on to it late.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (-115)
ABSOLUTE CHILLS. pic.twitter.com/zJVPiIbbMf
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 30, 2021
Well, what a high scoring game that was! But the Dodgers managed to pile on a stack of runs in the eight innings to seal the deal for them. The Dodgers keep winning, but so do the Giants, and this means they just can’t close the gap to take top spot in the NL West off the Giants. But the silver lining is that they will be playing in the playoffs no matter what.
Meanwhile, the Padres have had a terrible September, and are currently on a five game losing streak. The Padres have won two of their previous 13 games on the road, and have won one of their previous seven games on the road when playing the Dodgers. The Dodgers have won 14 of their previous 16 games in total, and have won all 11 of their previous games playing at home. This home game winning streak that the Dodgers have is something to be admired, and I’m betting they can keep this going for the game on Thursday night. It doesn’t take a genius to tell who I’ll be picking, the Dodgers are simply the better team, and they will get the win here.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (-115)
The Dodgers win their 3rd game in a row in a slog fest that saw the Dodgers score 11 runs. Max Scherzer had a shocker with 5 allowed runs in 5 innings but the prolific batting unit was still able to prevail and beat their division rivals. The Dodgers remain 2 games behind the Giants for the NL West division lead and the number 1 seed in the National League. With Just 4 games remaining they need to win everything and pray that the Giants slip up down the stretch. Taking the division and the number seed is looking more and more unlikely as the Giants just aren’t making any mistakes right now.
The Dodgers will once again face the Padres and put up Tony Gonsolin as their starting pitcher. Gonsolin has been good in limited time with a 3.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 51 innings. Gonsolin has also led the Dodgers to a 4-1 record. The Dodgers will need a bounce back game from their defense and their bullpen to ensure victory. The Padres will be starting Vince Velasquez who has a bad 6.22 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and shocking 3-8 record this season. He will get devoured by the Dodgers’ elite batting unit. I think the Dodgers take home an easy win and hold the Padres below 4 runs.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (-115)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.