MLB Betting Picks and Predictions: Reds vs. Twins, Cubs vs. White Sox, More (Friday, Sept. 25)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Rizzo and James McCann
- Our staff is targeting three matchups for their best MLB picks this evening: Orioles-Blue Jays, Cubs-White Sox and Reds-Twins.
- The Blue Jays, Cubs and Twins all enter those games as somewhat significant favorites, but that doesn't necessarily make them all worth betting.
- Read below to find out which underdogs are offering value, and which favorites we expect to get the job done Friday night.
The final weekend of the 2020 MLB regular season leaves much to be determined — especially in the National League.
But while teams like the Giants, Phillies and Brewers fight for the playoff lives, our experts have been finding value on ones whose future looks at least a bit more certain (knock on wood, Reds fans).
Check out our bets on the following matchups below.
- Orioles vs. Blue Jays (6:37 p.m. ET)
- Cubs vs. White Sox (8:10 p.m. ET)
- Reds vs. Twins (8:10 p.m. ET)
Note: Odds as of 5 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: Orioles Moneyline (+170) vs. Blue Jays
As of writing, the Orioles and Blue Jays have yet to officially confirm Friday’s anticipated pitching matchup between Jorge Lopez (Baltimore) and Taijuan Walker (Toronto), but based upon that matchup I projected the Orioles’ chances on Friday at 48.5%; implied odds of +106.
Lopez (4.71 xFIP) has pitched according to expectations over 37 innings in 2020 (career 4.75 xFIP) and Walker (5.24 xFIP with Toronto) remains volatile from one outing to the next — but the latter is coming off of his best outing with the Jays (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K) and should be an X-factor in the postseason as Toronto makes its first trip to the playoffs since 2016.
But standing three games behind Cleveland in the Wild Card race, and two games behind the Yankees in the AL East with three games left to play, the Jays are all but locked into eighth place in the American League, and as a result they don’t have a lot to play for over their final three games this weekend.
Dating back to 2005, when an underdog plays a team with a winning percentage greater than 53% during the final four games of the regular season, those underdogs win at a 44% clip (+33 units, 9.3% ROI for a consistent $100 bettor).
Obviously, you need to take more factors into consideration, given the unique landscape of the 2020 season — eight NL teams are fighting for four playoff spots with three games left to play.
Toronto has not been officially eliminated from second place in the East — so I would expect to see their regular lineup on Friday night. This trend morseo applies as we head into the weekend, and underdogs get to face second-string lineups as teams look for a day or two of rest for their regulars before a potentially long postseason run.
Still, the Orioles merely show my largest projected edge on Friday’s slate.
Danny Donahue: Cubs Moneyline (-150), -1.5 (+108) vs. White Sox
Among many things, the 2020 MLB season seems to have been one of the undervalued favorite. Even though it’s had only about 37% of the chances, this system has shown close to the same number of matches that it would in a normal 162-game season to this point.
Tonight that match is on the Cubs, who are getting just 40% of moneyline tickets, but have moved from the -130s up near -160 at several books.
In our database (since 2005), teams that have opened as a favorite greater than -130 and seen at least 10 cents of reverse line movement (no more than 45% of moneyline bets) have gone 134-43, winning 35.8 units for a 20.1% return on investment.
On the run line, the same system has as 92-71 record, returning 42.5 units — a 24.1% ROI.
I’ll be splitting my bet into a bit of both tonight.
BJ Cunningham: Reds Moneyline (+138) vs. Twins
Tyler Mahle has been a strikeout machine so far in 2020, as he’s sporting a 11.12 K/9 rate. However, it has been strikeout or bust for him, as his xFIP is all the way up at 4.53.
Mahle is mainly a fastball/slider pitcher and he’s been pretty successful with that combination so far this season. He’s racked up 51 strikeouts on those two pitches and is holding opponents to a .196 average. He’ll have a good matchup against the Twins, as they rank in the bottom half of MLB against both fastballs and sliders.
Jose Berrios hasn’t been very sharp so far this season, accumulating a 4.30 xFIP through 58 innings of work. His biggest issue has by far been his fastball, which has led to a .453 wOBA by opponents. Surprisingly though, he’s thrown his curveball more than any other pitch and he’s been really effective with it, allowing a .162 average to opponents while producing a 35.2% whiff rate.
Berrios does a great job interchanging all of his pitches, but he has trouble with control, as he hangs too many pitches (7.0% meatball rate this year).
Cincinnati has been average offensively this season, accumulating a .313 wOBA and 92 wRC+. However, the Reds have been fantastic against fastballs this season, with 12.7 weighted fastball runs.
I have the Twins projected as only -105 favorites tonight, so I think there is good value on Tyler Mahle and Cincinnati at +138.