After an abbreviated Thursday slate, Major League Baseball is fully back from the All-Star Break tonight with 14 games on the docket.
There are a number of appealing matchups and several aces on the mound, and our analysts are all over it, with picks including: Cubs vs. Phillies, Yankees vs. Orioles, Padres vs. Mets, Guardians vs. White Sox and Rockies vs. Brewers.
Here are our five best bets from Friday’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Cubs vs. Phillies
Brad Cunningham: Justin Steele is one of the more underrated starting pitchers in MLB. His ERA is sitting at 4.15, but his expected ERA is over half a run lower at 3.56.
He doesn’t allow a ton of hard contact (33.5% hard hit rate allowed), opposing hitters only have 2.9% barrel rate against him and he’s only allowing a .296 xwOBA.
He’s mainly utilizes a fastball/slider combination, which will work tremendously against a Phillies lineup that is 13th against fastballs and 15th against sliders.
Kyle Gibson has been very average this season with an xERA at 4.25. His last two starts before the All-Star Break were really good, but in his previous six starts before those two he allowed a whopping 23 earned runs.
The main problem is his main pitch, which is a sinker, is getting hit pretty good to the tune of a .354 xwOBA and .284 xBA. The Cubs are one the best teams in baseball against sinkers with a +25.9 run value on the season. Chicago is also top-half of baseball in terms of wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
I have the Cubs projected as -117 favorites, so I love the value on them at +114 and would play anything at plus money.
Yankees vs. Orioles
DJ James: Jameson Taillon has struggled over his last five starts. In all but one, he allowed at least three earned runs.
He will face a Baltimore Orioles that was red-hot heading into the All-Star Break. Tyler Wells has been great with a 3.38 ERA and 3.41 xERA, so he is right in lines with expectations. In addition, Wells allows an average exit velocity of 87.7 mph, which ranks in the 71st percentile of the MLB.
The Orioles have had success against right-handed pitching in the last month. The Yankees own a 122 wRC+ against the Orioles’ 112. In fact, the Orioles have a slightly higher team slugging percentage at .438 versus .436.
Baltimore should be more than capable of scoring early and often off of Taillon. It also has been great out of the ‘pen, ranking first in the MLB at a 3.03 xFIP against the Yankees’ 3.22.
In the end, the Orioles should probably be close to even money in this game. Take them to +110.
Padres vs. Mets
Jules Posner: Max Scherzer has been on a warpath since returning from an oblique injury and looks to continue that trend Friday night against the Padres.
Speaking of trends, the Mets’ offense has struggled against RHP at home over the past couple of weeks. However, they are still the fourth-best offense against RHP at home in MLB over the course of the season, so they could be due for positive regression.
They may have a good opportunity against Yu Darvish, who is a very below-average road pitcher this season. Darvish has posted a 5.25 ERA, 4.08 FIP and 4.09 xFIP over 48 road innings this season. He just has not been able to get comfortable pitching away from Petco Park this season.
Additionally, the Padres’ bullpen took a nosedive right before the All-Star Break, posting the third highest staff ERA in the two weeks leading up to the break.
The Padres are still a good team, but the pitching matchup strongly favors the Mets and their moneyline doesn’t have amazing value today.
Their run line is presently in the +125 neighborhood and if it stays in that range it’s worth the risk to back them and Scherzer.
Guardians vs. White Sox
Sean Zerillo: I projected the Guardians as slight underdogs for the first five innings (projected +113, 47% implied) and full game (projected +108, 48.1% implied). You can place those bets down to +122 (45% implied) and +117 (46.1% implied) — with either wager representing an edge of more than two percent compared to my modeled line.
Cleveland has advantages in the bullpen (9th in xFIP, 10th in K-BB% vs. 11th and 13th for Chicago) and on defense (8th in Defensive Runs Saved, 6th in Outs Above Average; compared to 21st and 24th for Chicago). Additionally, the Guardians’ offense (107 wrC+, 8th) has performed much better against right-handed pitching than the White Sox (93 wRC+, 22nd). Still, I model these offensive units on level terms.
I don’t see a wide gap between Cal Quantrill (4.52 xERA, 4.65 xFIP, 4.81 SIERA) and Lucas Giolito (4.49 xERA, 3.66 xFIP, 3.61 SIERA) as the market dictates. Giolito’s fastball velocity has averaged over 94 mph for the past three seasons, but his velocity has dipped to 93 mph this year and fallen further to 92.4 mph and 91.9 mph in his two most recent outings.
Giolito’s zone rate (40%) is at the lowest mark of his career, and he could permit walks and enter deep counts against a Cleveland offense which is more difficult to strike out (18.6%) or generate whiffs against (8.9%) than any team in baseball. Right-handed pitchers have more difficulty (17.7%) generating strikeouts against Cleveland than lefties (21.1%, 11th) too.
The Guardians tick many boxes here as an underdog and represent my most significant projected betting edge for Friday night.
Rockies vs. Brewers
Tony Sartori: The All-Star Break is exactly what the Brewers needed as they dropped three straight entering the All-Star game. A fellow member of the gambling community on Twitter (@CalSportsLV) found us a great trend for this game, which we will be backing.
Since 2013, teams that have lost their last two games and returned from the break as a favorite of (-130) or higher have gone 17-1 straight up (94%). Of those 17 wins, the teams have covered the run line 11 times (65%).
We are backing this strong trend as right-hander Corbin Burnes is slated to take the mound for Milwaukee. Through 18 starts this season, Burnes is 7-4 with a 2.14 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.
While those numbers are obviously great, Burnes has been particularly dominant recently. Over his last six starts, Burnes is 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.
I do not expect Burnes to slow down anytime soon as his metrics are just as outstanding as his surface level stats. This season, Burnes boasts a .258 xwOBA, .198 xBA and .309 xSLG.
In his one career home start against Colorado, Burnes allowed just one run on three hits in six innings while racking up seven strikeouts. Burnes should get plenty of run support in this game as the Brewers are slated to go against right-hander Antonio Senzatela.
Through 13 starts this season, Senzatela is 3-5 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.80 WHIP. His metrics are just as poor as he possesses a .371 xwOBA, .328 xBA and .488 xSLG.
Senzatela has been in particularly poor form recently. Over his last eight starts, Senzatela is 1-4 with a 5.75 ERA and 1.75 WHIP.
This game features about as lopsided pitching matchup as you can get, and the Brewers should be able to get back on track in their return from the break. I would play this line up to (-130).