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All times Eastern | Game odds via SportsLine consensus
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Rangers at Twins, 7:10 p.m. | Watch live: MLB.tv
- The Pick: Over 8.5 (-108)
- Key Trend: The Over is 4-2 in Minnesota’s last six.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, it’s sweltering in the United States right now thanks to something called a “heat dome.” It was the same yesterday, and did you happen to notice what happened with MLB games that felt like they were being played on the surface of the sun?
On the season, the average MLB game has included 4.59 runs. Wednesday’s 14 games averaged 9.71 runs. The only two games to finish with fewer than seven runs were Kansas City’s 4-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland and San Diego’s 4-0 win over Miami in San Diego. Neither city was affected by the weather nearly as much as the rest of the country.
In other words, the heat dome is a significant boost to hitters, and tonight’s forecast in Minnesota is hot with the wind blasting out to right field at 10 mph. This is terrible news for the starting pitchers as Minnesota’s Pablo Lopez allows a lot of fly ball contact, and Texas’s Andrew Heaney not only allows a lot of fly balls, he has seen a bunch of them fly out of the park when away from home.
Heaney has an HR rate allowed of 3.1% in 73.1 home innings, but that number has spiked to 4.8% in 44.2 road innings. Both offenses should enjoy tonight’s conditions.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model agrees with us, as it has a B-graded play on the Over 8.5 tonight.
Cubs at Pirates, 7:05 p.m | Watch live: MLB.tv
The Pick: Justin Steele Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-115) — One of the best ways to deal with the weather conditions tonight if you’re a pitcher? Don’t let the hitter make contact against you. The ball can’t fly over the fence if it’s never put in play, and that gives the Cubs an advantage tonight in Pittsburgh. Starter Justin Steele has been a stud for the Cubs all year, even before the team got hot.
Early in the season, he did a great job of avoiding big contact, and as of late, he’s started missing more bats overall. He’s recorded at least six strikeouts in eight of his last 10 starts with a strikeout rate of 25.5% in that time. Another factor that benefits him this evening is that this will be his first start of the season against the Pirates. A pitcher always has a slight advantage when his opponent hasn’t seen him. Steele could reach six strikeouts before he gets through the order once.
Athletics at White Sox, 8:10 p.m | Watch live: MLB.tv
The Pick: Over 10 (-105) — Our approach to this play isn’t any different from the one we’re betting on in Minnesota. Like Minneapolis, it’ll be boiling in Chicago tonight. The temperature at first pitch is projected to be 99 degrees, and it won’t cool down much during the game. There will also be double-digit winds, though the wind doesn’t impact games at Guaranteed Rate Field as heat does.
While neither of these offenses has been impressive in 2023, it’s not the only reason these are two of the worst teams in baseball. Their pitching staffs stink, too! While Chicago’s Jesse Scholtens has been a pleasant surprise with a 3.79 ERA, it’s misleading. He doesn’t miss bats, and other metrics like xFIP suggest his ERA should be closer to 5.07. Meanwhile, Oakland’s Ken Waldichuk is every bit of his 5.91 ERA. Yes, he gets more strikeouts, but he also walks over 12% of the hitters he faces.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine’s R.J. White rarely misses when it comes to the Steelers, and he has a play posted for tonight’s preseason finale against the Falcons.