MLB Picks Today, Best Bets, Predictions for Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Yordan Alvarez
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 13: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros hits a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning in game two of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Did we just… hit four bets in a row? Let’s go!

Neither was easy, especially the Mets game. Credit to DJ Herz; he looked fantastic against a potent Mets lineup. We saw the Nationals bullpen implode, which was predicted, and a big reason why we went with the full-game ML. We also took the Twins, and the Tigers took a brief 3-2 lead before the Twins tied it up in the next inning and, again, went on to win against a subpar bullpen.

There is no time to be happy about yesterday; it is time to focus on today. We are still in the red; let’s continue the climb to positive.

These picks are available on BetMGM. Code “JustBaseball” for a first bet offer up to $1500

2024 Record: 74-81 (-11.32 U)

Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays @ 7:07 PM EST

Pitching Matchup: Ronel Blanco (2.49 ERA) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (4.18 ERA)

This line is even; it shouldn’t be, especially given how inconsistent the Blue Jays have been and how poorly Yusei Kikuchi has performed against the Astros. Factor in a bullpen advantage for Houston, and the Astros should cruise to a victory today after a close loss yesterday.

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The Astros were the better offense in yesterday’s game, but they didn’t win. It’s not often you see a team put up seven runs with a .182 xBA. By the numbers, it was one of the luckiest offensive showings by the Blue Jays this season, and they won’t get as lucky again. The Astros scored six and deserved it, putting up a .267 xBA.

So, while people may be fading Blanco after he threw a no-hitter against this team, I’m fading a fraudulent Blue Jays offense. While the Astros only put up a .196 xBA in the first game, the Blue Jays were down to .177.

Ronel Blanco threw a no-hitter against this team the last time he faced them. I understand that can make the contrarians out there a bit nervous, but it’s simply a good matchup for Blanco against this lineup. This wasn’t the only time he’s faced them; he threw six innings of two-run ball in Toronto while only allowing three hits last season.

While I don’t expect a no-hitter, I expect a quality start. The Blue Jays rank 17th in xwOBA against right-handers with a four-seam, slider, changeup, and curveball pitch mix. It’s a three-way tie with the Pirates and A’s. That’s why I feel comfortable backing him after the no-hitter; it’s not a good matchup for the Blue Jays offense.

The Blue Jays’ offense against righties is league average. They have a 100 wRC+ on the season, exactly the league average, and a 102 wRC+ over the last 30 days. Over the previous two weeks, they have a 108 wRC+, ranking 14th. It revolves around Vladimir Guerrero Jr. If Blanco can stop him, he should be in line for an excellent start.

Vladdy is 1-7 with three strikeouts against Blanco. He’s only averaging 86.4 MPH at a 5.8 launch angle and a .164 xBA. If you can limit him, you can limit the Blue Jays offense.

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The rest of the lineup has no success against Blanco. He’s only allowed two hits in 38 PA against this current roster, one from Vladdy.

On the flip side, the Astros have leveled Kikuchi time and time again. Through 101 PA against the Astros’ current roster, he’s rocking a .298 batting average against, a .423 xwOBA, a .598 xSLG, and a .293 xBA while recording a higher walk rate than strikeout rate.

I prefer the Astros offense against lefties over the Blue Jays offense against righties. The Astros have a 110 wRC+ against lefties this year, ranking 10th and 10% better than the Blue Jays. Over the last 30 days, they have a 119 wRC+; in the previous two weeks, it’s up to 130 wRC+. This is an offense seeing lefties well, and they get a lefty who’s off his game at the moment.

He had a 6.26 ERA in June and had been dreadful over his last three starts, allowing at least four runs. In his previous four starts at home, he’s rocking a 6.74 ERA.

The bullpen advantage also leans toward the Astros. Due to the Astros closing the gap in last night’s game, the Blue Jays used their key relievers Trevor Richards and Chad Green, and both have thrown over 25 pitches the previous three days. The rest of the Blue Jays bullpen is terrible, especially without Jordan Romano and Yimi Garcia (IL).

The Astros have Josh Hader (3.82 ERA), Tayler Scott (1.49 ERA), Bryan King (0.69 ERA), Ryan Pressly (4.13 ERA) and Rafael Montero (4.31 ERA) at their disposal with solid rest schedules.

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The Astros have won eight of their last ten games, while the Blue Jays are four for their last ten. I’ll gladly pay to see the Blue Jays win two in a row, something they rarely do. Play the Astros to -125.

The Pick: Astros ML (-110) Risk 1.1 Unit