Big MLB weekend starts with picks for Rays-Braves, Tigers-Blue Jays: Best Bets for July 7

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Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies (1) and Ronald Acuna Jr., right, celebrate after the Braves defeated the Cleveland Guardians in a baseball game Wednesday, July 5, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, July 7:

TOP PLAY

The play: MLB: Braves money line over Rays

The odds: -108

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 6:40 p.m. (Apple TV+)

Our take: With the All-Star Game set for Tuesday in Seattle, the Major League Baseball season ends its first half this weekend, and it does so in style. There are a couple of series that clearly have some playoff implications even at this early date. The highest quality of those is this possible World Series preview, between the team that dominated the first quarter of the season in Tampa Bay and the team that has taken over in the second quarter, the Atlanta Braves.

We’re riding the hot hand here, getting basically even money on a Braves team that has won 25 of its past 29 games. We also have the benefit of Charlie Morton, one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball — he’s allowed more than three earned runs just three times in 16 starts. On the other side is the talented Tyler Glasnow, who has just seven starts this year and has completed six innings just once. He won’t do it tonight against a red-hot Braves lineup that’s made a habit of knocking starters out early.

The Rays are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Phillies and will be motivated to right their ship before the break, but the wrong team is coming into town.

UPSET PICK

The play: MLB, Tigers money line over Blue Jays

The odds: +114

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 6:40 p.m. (MLB.tv)

Our take: This is an underrated game to watch because last year’s Blue Jays ace, Alek Manoah, is returning after being shipped to spring training and then the minors to work on his delivery. Manoah, an All-Star sensation a year ago (remember him mic’d up on TV? “Three punchies, baby!”), had struggled so badly that Toronto felt no choice but to send him down for a reset.

The thing is, Manoah was bombed in one minor-league start, and though he pitched well in the other (and in these minor-league assignments, results may not be the most important thing), it’s going to be different when he’s facing Major League hitters again. The Tigers are a posh assignment, with a .670 team OPS that’s only higher than the lowly Royals and A’s, but if Manoah struggles, the Blue Jays may be stuck after playing a doubleheader Thursday that depleted their bullpen.

On the other side, Detroit starter Alex Faedo doesn’t have great numbers — and is also coming off the IL — but his 0.92 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 26 innings show that’s pitched better than his ERA showed.

With so much uncertainty in this one, it’s worth taking a shot on the home underdog.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

• MLB: Phillies-Rays OVER 9.5 runs (LOST)

• MLB: Rangers -1.5 at Red Sox (LOST)

Thursday’s profit/loss: -$41.50 (0-2)

Total for the week: -$20 (3-5)

Total for July: +$20 (6-5)

Total for 2023: -$328.75 (156-167)

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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