Friday MLB Betting Picks, Predictions: Our Best Bets for Cubs vs. Brewers, Mariners vs. Diamondbacks, More (Sept. 11)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Seager #15 of the Seattle Mariners.
- Need MLB bets for Friday's 16-game slate? Our staff is here to break down their favorites.
- From suppressed offense in Texas to Luis Castillo's positive regression, here are our best bets for Friday.
With a pair of doubleheaders getting Friday’s MLB slate started, a total of 16 games will get underway this afternoon into tonight. And our staff has found its four favorite plays from the following games.
- Athletics vs. Rangers (8:05 p.m. ET)
- Cubs vs. Brewers (8:10 p.m. ET)
- Reds vs. Cardinals (8:15 p.m. ET)
- Mariners vs. Diamondbacks (9:40 p.m. ET)
Check out all of our bets and analysis below.
Note: Odds as of 12:15 p.m. ET
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
Sean Zerillo: Athletics vs. Rangers Under 10 (-110)
From a handicapping perspective, one of the biggest question marks coming into the 2020 MLB season was how to handle the new run scoring environments in both Buffalo and Texas.
Prior to the 2020 season, mid-summer baseball in Arlington, given the heat and humidity, was the only thing close to Coors Field — checking in with a park factor roughly 25% above league average, whereas Coors is roughly 33% higher than league average.
Domed stadiums have historically favored pitchers, however. And early indications are that Globe Life Field is no different.
To date, batters in the Rangers’ new park are averaging a .664 OPS — the third worst mark in all ballparks. The home team’s lackluster offense (.637 team OPS) is partially to blame, but the Rangers have also performed significantly better on the road (.654 OPS) than at home (.619 OPS).
Meanwhile, their pitching metrics are significantly better at home than on the road too, where they have allowed 28 additional runs and five additional home runs in 23 fewer innings.
Currently, I have the park factor set for Globe Life at around 95%. The under is 11-9-2 there overall, and 10-7-2 when they keep the roof closed.
Provided that these teams played under a closed roof on Friday, I project the game total for 8.6 runs, and I see actionable value on the under down to 9.5 (-105) or 10 (-115).
Danny Donahue: Brewers Moneyline (-167), Run Line (+123) vs. Cubs
If you’ve been following along with these posts, you might some idea where I’m going here. While I don’t take many favorites in baseball, when the right opportunity presents itself on a favorite, it is, ahem, my favorite type of bet to make.
That “right” opportunity typically surrounds public perception and market movement, and is presenting itself tonight in the form of the Brewers.
The Brewers come into this game at 19-22, five games behind the first-place Cubs (26-19). They also came in as -150 favorites …
As you could probably imagine, the opposing +130 price on the Cubs has been too good to pass up in the eyes of most bettors. But even though the Cubs have landed 60% of moneyline bets, their price is now up around +150.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, is into the -160s, which puts the Brewers in a historically profitable situation.
In our database, favorites larger than -130 who’ve seen at least 10 cents of movement on no more than 45% have gone 132-42 straight up, winning 35.8 units for a 20.6% ROI on the moneyline. The same system has produced 42.8 units and a 24.8% ROI on a 91-70-12 run line record.
As far as the actual matchup, the Brewers, while ranking 23rd in overall wRC+, rank eighth against lefties (121), which isn’t a pretty sight for Jon Lester’s 5.80 ERA and not-much-better 5.48 xFIP.
Brandon Woodruff’s 3.91 and 3.77, on the other hand, confirm that the Brewers are deservedly favored. Don’t let the standings fool you.
Stuckey: Reds Moneyline (-112) vs. Cardinals
Two major regression candidates match up tonight in St. Louis. One in the positive direction and one in the negative.
Luis Castillo just can’t buy a break in 2020. He’s 1-5 with a 3.95 ERA but that paints a very unrealistic picture of how he’s been pitching. He’s just been very unlucky with a staggering .387 BABIP (over 100 points higher than his career) and an unfortunate 67.3% strand rate. All of the peripherals are also there with his K rate up, walk rate down and velocity as high as it’s ever been.
The man has some breaks coming his way. There’s a reason his FIP sits at 2.86 on the season.
In contrast, Adam Wainwright has sparkling surface stats with a 4-0 record and 2.68 ERA but he’s enjoyed quite a bit of fortune. Look no further than his FIP and xFIP, which are both north of 4.00 for a reason.
Wainwright has benefited from an unsustainable .207 BABIP in addition to a 78% LOB%, despite only striking out fewer than 7 batters per 9 innings. The regression monster looms.
From a SIERA perspective, Wainwright is at 4.55 while Castillo comes in over a full run lower at 3.44. The results are coming very soon for Castillo, who I’m looking to ride the rest of the season. And no better time to start than tonight against a pitcher who has the second-lowest BABIP and third-highest FIP-ERA differential among all qualified starters.
BJ Cunningham: Mariners Moneyline (+100) vs. Diamondbacks
Yusei Kikuchi has been fantastic in his second season since coming over from Japan. He’s added a cutter to his pitch arsenal this season that’s paid off big time. It’s allowing only a .224 average to opponents and is producing a 29.7% whiff rate.
As Zerillo pointed out earlier this year, Kikuci has added 2.5 mph to his fastball, which has lowered opponents’ average against it from .325 in 2019 to .278 in 2020. In addition to those improvements, Kikuchi is due for some positive regression. He has a 5.23 ERA through his first six starts, but his xFIP is all the way down at 3.09, which ranks 12th in MLB. He’ll have a great matchup against a Diamondbacks lineup that has been the worst team in baseball vs. lefties this season.
Caleb Smith joined the D-backs at the trade deadline after being a part of the Starling Marte trade. He’s pitched only three innings so far in 2020, but his 2019 numbers do not show much promise. Last season he accumulated a 5.05 xFIP and had some issues with his fastball, which allowed a .330 wOBA to opponents. The Mariners have been improving offensively over the past two weeks (.319 wOBA), so Smith may have a tougher matchup than he thinks on Friday.
The Diamondbacks bullpen has been a disaster this season, recording a 5.05 xFIP, which ranks in the bottom five of MLB. Not to mention the Diamondbacks dealt Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin — their best relievers — at the trade deadline, so the Mariners should be able to feast on their depleted bullpen.
I have the Mariners projected at -122, so I think there is plenty of value on them in Arizona on Friday night.