MLB Thursday best bets: Nationals, Tigers lineups are clear fades

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After cashing on four straight with our MLB picks, we're feeling good heading into Thursday, especially with a pair of inept offenses set to take the field. Here are our favorite plays for the day:

Nationals under 3.5 runs (-110) vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

We've dipped into the Nationals under fund a few times this season with success, and we're going back for more Thursday against Phillies ace Zack Wheeler in what should be a tough day for Washington's bats.

After nearly winning his first Cy Young award in 2021, Wheeler's arguably been as good, if not better, this season. He leads the NL in FIP (2.13) and home runs per nine (0.3) while sporting a strong 2.84 ERA through 11 starts. Wheeler's lasted six-plus innings with two or fewer earned runs allowed in seven of his last eight starts, and he's finished with at least seven strikeouts in all eight.

Now he'll prove his might against the Nationals, who own baseball's fifth-best batting average (.255) but rank fifth-worst in hard-hit rate (35.7%) and third-worst in average exit velocity (87.4 mph). Even if Washington scratches across a run or two with a small-ball approach, I don't see any big innings coming against Wheeler and Co. - especially with Juan Soto (knee) on the mend.

Rangers (-160) @ Tigers, 7:10 p.m.

Some teams are just too bad not to fade, and that's the case right now with the lowly Tigers, who are fresh off one of the worst series losses in franchise history.

Detroit was outscored 27-6 in its three-game series against the White Sox and used three position players to pitch in Wednesday's 13-0 loss. That doesn't bode well for Thursday. Since 2004, underdogs coming off a shutout loss of 10 or more runs are a brutal 75-135 overall and have cost bettors $3,211 on the moneyline.

Coincidentally, the Rangers won two of three against the White Sox in the series prior and will trot out starter Martin Perez. The left-hander allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine straight outings before Chicago's bats came alive Saturday. He should have little trouble containing baseball's least productive offense in a strong spot for Texas.

C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at cjackson.cowart@thescore.com.

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MLB Thursday best bets: Nationals, Tigers lineups are clear fades
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