There are 12 games on the MLB schedule for Thursday. The bats will be in the spotlight in the Bronx at 7:05 p.m. ET when Giancarlo Stanton and the New York Yankees (-141), who have won five in a row, host Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros, who have dropped four straight. Later, top-tier pitching clashes highlight West Coast action. At Oakland Coliseum, Franke Montas and Charlie Morton bring their combined 17-3 record to the hill as the Oakland Athletics (-111) host the Tampa Bay Rays, while premier lefties square off as Julio Urias and the Los Angeles Dodgers (-177) host Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. Fans everywhere will be playing off MLB odds for these games, but before locking in any MLB picks of your own, you need to see the best MLB bets of the night from SportsLine handicapper Michael Rusk.

With his economics and statistics background, Rusk uses multiple algorithms pooling with recency bias to produce profitable picks. He hits Thursday’s action hitting on 66 of his last 117 MLB picks, a heater that’s added to the more than $3,000 he’s brought in for $100 players the last two-plus seasons.

Now he’s studied the full schedule and his top MLB picks are in, using the numbers to find critical trends you’re not considering. Parlaying them together brings an additional payout of more than 6-1.

We can tell you Rusk is going with the Cubs (-140) at home against the Mets at 8:05 p.m. ET. Rusk is on a 20-9 run (+888) picking games involving either Chicago or New York. Rusk knows that no team is better at home compared to the road than the Cubs. In fact, the North Siders are 25-12 at Wrigley Field and just 15-21 away from it. They’re throwing Tyler Chatwood, who is just as dominant at the friendly confines with a 1.89 home ERA.

The Mets, meanwhile, will go with Walker Lockett for his first career start after he posted a 3.28 ERA in four minor league starts. He threw strikes, with only four walks in 31.2 innings, but also registered just 15 strikeouts. Throwing it down the middle may not be as effective against the slugging Cubs, especially at home.

“The 25-12 home Cubbies have the reliable Chatwood on the mound,” Rusk told SportsLine. “The Cubbies should be a much heavier favorite Thursday night. Take the line before it gets hammered.” 

Rusk has also found a key x-factor that has him all-in on an underdog on Thursday night. You can only see which team he’s backing at SportsLine.

So which MLB picks should you make on Thursday for a payout of more than 6-1? And which underdog is a must-back? See Thursday’s MLB schedule below, then visit SportsLine to get Thursday’s MLB best bets, all from the handicapper who has returned a $3,000 profit the last two-plus seasons.

Thursday’s MLB schedule (all times Eastern)

Indians at Rangers (+104), 2:05 p.m.
Rockies at Diamondbacks (-175), 3:40 p.m.
Phillies at Nationals (-127), 7:05 p.m.
Astros at Yankees (-141), 7:05 p.m.
Angels at Blue Jays (+134), 7:07 p.m.
Marlins at Cardinals (-182), 7:15 p.m.
Mets at Cubs (-140), 8:05 p.m.
Reds at Brewers (-139), 8:10 p.m.
Twins at Royals (+171), 8:15 p.m.
Rays at Athletics (-111), 10:07 p.m.
Giants at Dodgers (-177), 10:10 p.m.
Orioles at Mariners (-144), 10:10 p.m.