Philadelphia Phillies Getty Celebration Celebrate
Getty Images

Happy Thursday gamblers, it's Chris Bengel back with you as we navigate through the week.

The countdown to Tuesday's trade deadline has officially begun in Major League Baseball. On Wednesday night, the Yankees acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a few prospects. With slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, this was a solid move for the Yankees, who currently have the most wins in the majors.

As the trade deadline creeps closer, the big storyline that baseball fans will be keeping an eye on is whether or not the Nationals decide to trade Juan Soto

That is all still a few days away, though, so let's focus on the present and get to Thursday's picks.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Phillies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

  • Key Trend: The over is 4-1 in the Phillies' last five games with the total set at 7.0-8.5
  • The Pick: Over 7.5 runs (-110) 

The battle of Pennsylvania begins on Thursday as the Phillies and Pirates battle for supremacy. The Phillies have quite a bit more to play for as they're only sitting a half-game out of a Wild Card spot in the National League. While the Pirates' offense hasn't exactly been a juggernaut this season, the over/under for this contest is just too low.

Look, I won't be surprised if the Pirates only score a run or two tonight. However, the Phillies offense is capable of putting eight runs on the board by themselves. Philadelphia is currently tied for sixth in home runs (126), seventh in RBIs (435) and eighth in runs (454) -- and that's with Bryce Harper on the injured list. In addition, the Phillies and their opponents have combined to score at least eight runs in five of their last six games following the All-Star break. 

The Pirates are sending right-hander Zach Thompson to the mound, who is coming off a brutal performance in which he surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Marlins. Also, the Pirates' bullpen has the third-highest ERA in baseball (4.64), so even if Thompson only allows a few runs, the over should be achievable.

💰 The Picks



Mariners at Astros, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

The Pick: Mariners (+120)-- The Astros swept the Mariners last weekend, but I'm backing the underdog Mariners in this spot. After sweeping the Mariners, the Astros went into free fall mode and got swept by the lowly Athletics on the road.

Despite having one of the best records in the majors, the Astros' lineup has been very up and down throughout the season. On Thursday, they'll be taking on a Mariners team that has the advantage in the starting pitching matchup. Seattle starter Logan Gilbert has been sensational with an impressive 2.77 ERA. The right-hander has lost just two starts dating back to May 17 and even defeated the Astros back on June 8.

The Mariners are coming off of a three-game sweep against the Rangers. They were also battle-tested, as all three games were decided by two runs or less. I'm expecting a close game against a team as good as the Astros, but I'm confident in taking the underdog Mariners against their AL West rivals.

Key Trend: The Mariners are 22-5 in their last 27 games against a right-handed starter

Phillies at Pirates, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Zack Wheeler Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-105) --
 It's not often that I'll double dip on a game, but this just makes too much sense. Zack Wheeler has blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball since joining the Phillies back in 2019. After leading the National League in strikeouts in 2021, Wheeler is 8-5 record to go along with a 2.78 ERA (15th in the majors). 

While his strikeout numbers have been down, the Phillies starter has still managed to record at least seven strikeouts in four of his last nine games. Aside from being tagged for six earned runs against the Blue Jays earlier this month, Wheeler has allowed one earned run or less in three of his last four starts. If Wheeler can get into a groove early, seven strikeouts should be an easy bar for him to clear.

Key Trend: Wheeler has registered at least seven strikeouts in four of his last nine games