MLB Best Bets Today | Odds, Picks for Athletics vs Nationals, Angels vs Astros, More (Friday, August 11)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Dusty Baker Jr. and Jose Altuve.
Ladies and gentlemen, the weekend.
There's a full slate of MLB games to get your Friday started and every single one takes place under the lights. This means there's plenty of action to be found.
Our MLB analysts are targeting four games in particular, including Reds vs. Pirates, Athletics vs. Nationals, Tigers vs. Red Sox and Angels vs. Astros.
Here are our best bets from the MLB slate on Friday, August 11th.
MLB Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our MLB betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
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Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our MLB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Reds vs. Pirates
By D.J. James
Over the last month, the Pittsburgh Pirates have not been successful when a left-hander takes the opposing mound. They will have to face Andrew Abbott on Friday night, so they will be in for a tough outing.
The Cincinnati Reds will have to face Johan Oviedo, who may not seem as dominant as Abbott, but they have not hit righties well. Oviedo has also been a shutdown arm since the All-Star break.
Abbott owns a 2.93 ERA against a 3.72 xERA. The reason his expected numbers are higher is he has an Average Exit Velocity over 90 mph and a walk rate over 9%. That said, he is striking out nearly 26% of hitters, so his stuff is electric and should be enough against a slumping Pittsburgh lineup.
On the other side, Oviedo has a 4.18 ERA against a 4.37 xERA. He has an Average Exit Velocity of 88.5 mph, but he similarly struggles with walking batters at 9.5%. That said, he has a 2.32 ERA since the break over 31 innings. Expect more of that today because the Reds have not been good against righties in the last month.
The Pirates carry a .602 OPS and 68 wRC+ off of southpaws since July 11. The Reds have a .701 OPS and 88 wRC+ off of righties in that same timeframe.
The concern for under-backers in this game may be the relief corps, but they each have a few viable arms. If Abbott and Oviedo manufacture outs without too many walks, they should hand the ball to the stronger relievers.
Play this under to 8.5 (-120).
Pick: Under 9 (-110)
Athletics vs. Nationals
I know this is the most boring, meaningless game on the slate, but the total is too high.
Paul Blackburn has been a bright spot for A’s this season. He only has a 3.86 xERA because he’s getting a ton more swings and misses. He has a 9.85 K/9 rate when his career high coming into the season was 7.19.
So what’s changed? He’s developed a nasty slider that he barely threw last season. This season he’s throwing it 20% of the time and it has a 35.7% whiff rate. Opposing hitters only have a .255 xwOBA against it. The Stuff+ rating isn’t that great on that pitch, but he’s been effective with the location.
He’ll be facing a Nationals lineup that is one of the worst in baseball against right-handed pitching. Washington only has a .302 wOBA and 87 wRC+ against righties. That’s bottom five in baseball.
Joan Adon projects out to be a pretty below-average pitcher with an ERA around five. He had a decent start on the road against the Reds in his only start this season. He’s predominantly a fastball/curveball pitcher, which will be fine against the A’s who have a .208 xBA and .303 xwOBA against those two pitches, which is the worst mark in baseball.
I only have 8.2 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Under 9 runs at +100.
Pick: Under 9 (+100)
Tigers vs. Red Sox
By Kenny Ducey
It took a few years, but Tarik Skubal is finally looking like the highly-touted pitching prospect he once was. The left-hander has posted a career-best 31.1% strikeout rate in 27 innings to this point in the season and has pitched to an excellent .203 xBA.
He’s coming off his most impressive start yet which saw him spin 5 1/3 scoreless against the Rays, and I think he’ll back that up with another strong showing here.
The Red Sox are just 15th in wRC+ to lefties, and they rank 22nd in pitch value against sliders. That’s the one pitch out of Skubal’s three primary deliveries that gets put in play the most, and it carries with it a gnarly .182 xBA.
Skubal matches up well here with the Red Sox, and while Detroit has struggled to hit lefties all year long it does rank 13th in overall wRC+ in the last two weeks.
Chris Sale has seen his ground ball rate plummet as the year has gone on and his hard-hit rate was way up to 44.4% in June. He wasn’t pitching very well before he went down with an injury, so it’s hard to see him lighting up the Tigers given how they’ve been swinging the bat.
When you also consider that all four of Boston’s top relievers have worked on back-to-back days, the decision to go with Detroit here is an easy one.
Chris Sale is back in Boston, but the real story of this matchup is the performance of Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal.
He's throwing harder than ever with his fastball velocity up two mph since returning from injury. His strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are through the roof and at a career-high 31.1% with the former.
He's managed to achieve this while still suppressing homers, which was a problem for him early in his career. Skubal has cut down on the walks thus far this year, too, and a result has a 2.29 xERA.
He's only had one poor start, at Kansas City, since returning from injury when he had some brutal BABIP luck in one of the most BABIP-friendly parks in the entire league.
Sale has looked impressive in his two rehab starts in the minor leagues, but he's also not going to be fully dialed up from a workload and pitch count perspective. That likely means Boston heads to the bullpen first, which is a downgrade from Sale's projection.
The Red Sox lineup also doesn't look nearly as fearsome against left-handed pitching when you consider that Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida, Triston Casas and Alex Verdugo all end up in bad platoon splits. Boston still has a great offense either way, but the projections don't like them as much against southpaws.42.392000135
I'd bet Detroit at +120 or better.
Angels vs. Astros
By Tony Sartori
Left-hander Reid Detmers takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels and he should be a good candidate to fade. Through 20 starts, Detmers is 2-8 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
His underlying metrics suggest that positive regression is unlikely, ranking in the 37th percentile or lower in Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, xERA/xwOBA and xBA. Entering this game in particularly poor form, the left-hander is 0-3 with an 8.61 ERA and 1.96 WHIP.
One of those starts came against the Houston Astros, a game in which there were a whopping 25 total runs scored. In fact, there have been 15 or more total runs scored in three of those five aforementioned starts.
In that game against Houston, AL Cy Young candidate Framber Valdez took the mound for the Astros. Therefore, I am not too concerned with the fact that Justin Verlander is slated to get the nod for Houston in Friday's contest.
Over his past five starts against the Angels, Verlander possesses a 4.30 ERA. There were nine or more total runs scored in four of those five outings.