MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants
USATSI

The lead in the NL East could change hands this week when the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves square off in a rare five-game series, beginning Thursday at Citi Field. New York (66-38) has won eight of its last nine games to build a 3.5-game lead in the division. Meanwhile, Atlanta (63-42) has won four of its last five and sits in second place. On Thursday, New York is a -120 favorite in the latest Mets vs. Braves odds from Caesars Sportsbook while Atlanta is a +100 underdog.

First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET from Queens, N.Y. The game is one of 13 on the MLB schedule for Thursday. Elsewhere in the majors, the Astros' Justin Verlander goes for his MLB-leading 15th win of the season and the Cardinals and Cubs play a doubleheader in St. Louis. Before making any MLB picks or parlays, be sure to check out the MLB predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every MLB game 10,000 times, and it enters Week 18 on a 20-14 roll on top-rated MLB picks, returning almost $400 for $100 players. This is the same model that pegged the 2021 Atlanta Braves at 10-1 as one of three best bets to win it all last season. Anybody who has followed it has seen profitable returns.

Now, the model has locked in four confident MLB best bets for Thursday. They all involve games at 7:10 p.m. ET or later, so there's still time to get these MLB picks in. If you successfully parlay the picks, you'd be looking at a payout of more than 19-1. You can see the model's MLB picks only at SportsLine

Top MLB picks today

The model, which ran 10,000 simulations on each of Thursday's games, likes Detroit (+158) to knock off Tampa Bay. The Rays enter the game in a bit of a slump, having lost eight of their last 11 games. They are averaging just 2.6 runs per game during the skid.

In addition, the Tigers' Javier Baez has hit lefties well this season. The Detroit shortstop is hitting .333, slugging .568 and leads the team with a .909 OPS against southpaws this season. On Thursday he faces Tampa Bay lefty Jeffrey Springs who has a 5.23 ERA over his last five starts.

Featured Game | Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

How to make MLB picks and parlays for Thursday

The model also locked in three other best bets for Thursday, including a play on a big American League underdog. You can see the model's MLB Thursday best bets and parlay only at SportsLine.

What MLB picks should you target for a payout of more than 19-1? And what underdog does the model like on Thursday? Visit SportsLine now to see the MLB best bets from an advanced model that is on a 20-14 roll on top-rated MLB money-line picks.