MLB Betting Guide: Thursday 7/23/20

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, a line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300.

Using our models as a guide, let's take a look at the best bets for today.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

New York Yankees at Washington Nationals

Over 7.5 (-110): 3-Star Rating out of 5

At first glance, taking the over in a pitching duel between Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer might seem like a terrible idea, but 7.5 runs isn't a terribly high hurdle to overcome.

Both hurlers reached pitch counts in the high-80s for their final tuneups, so they ought to be close to full workloads, but we also shouldn't expect them to be pushed to their limits on Opening Day. It wouldn't be surprising if both teams are content to pull the plug at around five or six innings.

This is where things could get interesting for the Yankees' bats, as their active roster ranked third-best in wRC+ last year and will get to take hacks against a middle-of-the-road Nationals bullpen.

Looking back at last year's marks, the Nats' active bullpen ranked just 14th in SIERA and 21st in xFIP. With capable arms like Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson, and Will Harris, this is hardly a bad bullpen by any means, but the Yankees might be able to tack on some extra runs in the middle innings if Scherzer doesn't pitch deep into the game.

On the other side, the Nats might have a more difficult time overcoming the Yankees' slew of quality bullpen arms, but it can't hurt that Aroldis Chapman (COVID-19) won't be one of them. Fill-in closer Zach Britton didn't back up last year's 1.91 ERA with particularly inspiring peripherals, including a 21.6% strikeout rate and 13.1% walk rate. Don't count out the Nats in the ninth if they're behind.

Our model rates the over as a three-star bet. And in what should be a close contest, you can also consider taking the Nats at +1.5 runs (-144), which our model gives a two-star rating.

Note that this game does have rain in the forecast, so keep tabs on the weather just in case.

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

Over 8.5 (-102): 1-Star Rating out of 5

The nightcap figures to be a less compelling affair, with the Los Angeles Dodgers fully expected to roll in a mismatch against the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants have Johnny Cueto as their opening day starter, who only made four starts last year following 2018 Tommy John surgery. The results weren't very promising, posting a 5.49 SIERA, 19.4% strikeout rate, and 13.4% walk rate. We shouldn't draw too much from just four outings, but the truth is that Cueto wasn't putting up great numbers before the surgery, either, and hasn't had a strong season since 2016.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers had a stacked lineup last year and will only get better with Mookie Betts added to the mix. Their active roster ranks just behind the Bronx Bombers in 2019 wRC+, and the inclusion of the NL DH can only further enhance their chances of a big opening performance.

There isn't much value in betting the Dodgers moneyline (-290), so taking the over might be the way to go, with the hopes that the Giants do their part by chipping in a few runs. Our model rates over 8.5 runs as a one-star bet.