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Thursday's Best Bet
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Thursday MLB Best Bet
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals

It's been quite the disjointed week for the Philadelphia Phillies so far, as a day off on Monday to travel to Baltimore led to another day off on Tuesday with a cancellation, they got one game in with the Orioles on Wednesday (4-1 win) and now are in St. Louis to start a four-game series over the weekend.

Both teams enter this weekend matchup with nearly identical records (Philly is 24-16 SU, while St. Louis is 23-17 SU), so it will be interesting to see if one of them can grab an edge over this four-game set. Odds: Philadelphia (+132), St. Louis (-142); Total set at 8.5

Game 1 pits Philly's Vince Velasquez against St. Louis' Luke Weaver and both have starters have battled their ups and downs this year. Weaver enters play with the slightly better ERA at 4.91 – compared to 5.05 for Velasquez – but neither of them are below 5.00 in ERA over their last three starts as they have been hit hard.

Those hard hits haven't killed either team in the win/loss column though as both teams are 2-1 SU in their respective starters last three outings, as getting plenty of help from their respective offenses has been a calling card for both guys this season.

In terms of who may be in the better current form, that honor has to go to Velasquez. He is coming off a start where he struck out 12 in a 6-3 win over the Giants, but 101 pitches over just six innings of work isn't exactly what I'd call efficient. The 101 pitches was the most Velazquez has thrown all year, and after the last time he threw 95+ pitches, his next start was much rougher in an 8-4 loss.

But what may be most concerning for Velasquez of late is that he's had trouble keeping the baseball in the yard. He's allowed at least one HR in each of his past five starts, and three of the last four have seen him give up two long balls.

St. Louis has morphed their team into more of a slugging squad this year with 50 HR's on the year, which could be problematic for Velasquez and the Phillies, especially when you consider that 82 of St. Louis' 171 total runs scored this year (47.9%) have come via the long ball.

Get a couple guys on base tonight before one of those Velasquez pitches leaves the yard and it could be a long night for Phillies fans.

That's part of the reason why I've got no issue laying the 40 cents of chalk with the home team tonight as they should be able to do what they need to to get a win.

Philly's disjointed schedule this week has done them no favors in this spot, and with the Cardinals on a 7-2 SU run at home, a run that includes part of a 10-3 SU stretch against teams coming in with a losing record on the road like Philadelphia has, has me backing the home side.

Weaver may have had some issues of late, but a full five days of rest should help him bounce back strong as the Cardinals are 9-1 SU the last 10 times that's been the case, and going back to last year, this offense really shows him plenty of support with a 12-5 SU record in Weaver's last 17 starts.

And while some may look at this being the first game back at home for St. Louis after a week on the road as somewhat problematic, the Cardinals are 31-15 as an organization the past few years after spending a week or more in hotels, so don't let that concern you too much. St. Louis wins this game tonight.

Odds per -

Best Bet: St. Louis (-142)

Akins: Diamond Trends - Sunday
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Indians reliever Miller back on DL
Marlins' Prado to DL; Riddle recalled
Mengden tosses 2-hitter; A's top D'Backs
Flaherty shines as Cards top Pirates
Pirates activate OF Marte off DL
Reynolds HR helps Nats beat Miami
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