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MLB Betting Odds, Projections: Our Expert’s Top Picks For Friday, Including Dodgers vs. Phillies (May 20)

MLB Betting Odds, Projections: Our Expert’s Top Picks For Friday, Including Dodgers vs. Phillies (May 20) article feature image

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Ranger Suarez (Phillies)

  • MLB features a full slate on Friday, featuring the Dodgers taking on the Phillies and the Rays traveling to Baltimore to face the Orioles.
  • Also spotlighted below is a battle between Tarik Skubal's Tigers and the Cleveland Guardians.
  • MLB betting expert Sean Zerillo provides bets for every game below.

Friday features a 15-game MLB slate. You can find my projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you can bookmark).

As I have mentioned throughout the season, bookmakers have continually adjusted totals to reflect the new run-scoring environment. And they may have finally reached the appropriate middle ground — particularly as temperatures warm up across the country (though not necessarily in Colorado on Friday).

As a reminder, the average total from April 7-17 was 8.79 but dropped to roughly 7.85 for the second half of April. Totals fell further to 7.3-7.4 in early May but have been closer to 8 in the past week, and the average total for Friday is around 8.6.

Using my projections, where can we find actionable value on Tuesday?

Odds tables via Caesars. You can shop for the best MLB lines all season long via our MLB odds page.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Julio Urias vs. Ranger Suarez

Dodgers Odds-145
Phillies Odds+125
Over/Under9 (+100/-120)
First Pitch7:05 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Dodgers probability: 54.3% (fair odds of -119)
  • Phillies probability: 45.7% (+119)
  • Projected total: 8.66

Last weekend, the Phillies nearly swept a four-game set in Los Angeles, including an 8-3 victory with this same pitching matchup.

Still, Bryce Harper was available in that series. His status for Friday remains in question; he received a platelet-rich plasma injection this week to treat a UCL tear, which may eventually require Tommy John surgery.

Before the injury, Harper was on a tear on the West Coast, going 8-12 with four doubles, three homers and eight RBIs over three games against the Dodgers. For now, I’m assuming that he’ll be back in the lineup on Friday; without Harper, I would drop the fair odds on this game to +130, closer to the opening odds.

With Harper in the lineup, the Phillies closed as +160 underdogs (38.5% implied) in this same pitching matchup on the road. After accounting for home-field advantage, one would expect those odds to adjust closer to 45.5% (+120 implied) at home.

However, I projected the Phillies as +138 underdogs (42% implied) for that game and only moved their line 3.7% for the same matchup at home.

Despite blowing up in that start (6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 3 K), I have upgraded my projection for Julio Urias in the interim. The southpaw showed a velocity dip early this season, but that has normalized in his two most recent outings:

In both 2020 and 2021, Urias averaged roughly 94.1 mph on his heater. Through his first five starts in 2022, that number dipped to 92.3 mph but has since climbed back to 93.4 and 93.1 mph in the past 10 days.

Despite the dip, his expected ERA (3.11) aligns with his 2021 mark (3.08). And since the velocity has come back up, I’m willing to improve his projection in my model.

Conversely, this season, Ranger Suarez has seen a performance dip (4.47 xERA, 4.15 xFIP, 4.31 SIERA) after a breakthrough 2021 campaign (2.60 xERA, 3.38 xFIP, 3.51 SIERA). He’s throwing fewer four-seam fastballs for additional sinkers, but it’s a slight change, and his velocity has remained intact.

However, Suarez’s swinging strike rate has declined by 40%, year-over-year, and even in a strong outing against the Dodgers (7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K), he only managed a handful of whiffs; though his last start in Seattle (11.5% whiff rate — in line with 2021) was more encouraging.

In short, I’ve improved my projection for Urias and dropped my projection for Suarez since their matchup last weekend — and I still show value on the Phillies here, provided Harper is in the lineup.

I bet their moneyline overnight in anticipation of the drop. If he doesn’t play, it’s still a break-even wager at this price. Still, if or when Harper is confirmed, I may add some more moneyline or spread (+1.5 runs) on the Philadelphia side.

Recommended Bets

  • Philadelphia Phillies (+135) at WynnBET (bet to +129)

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles

Jalen Beeks vs. Tyler Wells

Rays Odds-150
Orioles Odds+130
Over/Under8.5 (+100/-120)
First Pitch7:05 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Rays probability: 59.4% (fair odds of -146)
  • Orioles probability: 40.6% (+146)
  • Projected total: 7.54

The Orioles moved their left field wall back by 30 feet and increased the height of the wall by five feet this season to reduce home runs to left field, particularly in the hot summer months.

In addition to adding a humidor — which is now uniform in all 30 MLB ballparks — the run environment at Camden Yards has dropped substantially.

Using ESPN Park Factors, Camden rated about nine percent above the average run environment in 2019 and 16% above average in 2021. Per Statcast, the rolling three-year average factor for Camden Yards (from 2019-21) was 112 — roughly 12% above the major league average.

In a small sample this season, ESPN has Camden Yards at 23rd amongst the 30 venues, 12.7% below league average. Essentially, that’s nearly a 30% swing in the run-scoring environment, representing, roughly, the difference between Coors Field and an average park.

The Under is 13-7 in Baltimore this season, but the total has never surpassed 8.5, which was closer to the park average in prior years.

I still don’t think that the market has caught up to the new run-scoring environment in Baltimore, as I projected Friday’s total closer to 7.5 than an opening number of 8.5.

Orioles starter Tyler Wells (3.56 xERA, 4.34 xFIP, 4.23 SIERA) has carried over his indicators after working out of the bullpen last season (3.60 xERA, 4.11 xFIP, 3.37 SIERA). He’s a pitcher that I consistently look to back with my money.

Tampa will open with lefty Jalen Beeks (3.00 xERA) and look to play matchups the remainder of the way. The Rays’ bullpen ranks 13th in xFIP, 10th in SIERA and 10th in K-BB% thus far, and is consistently one of the better relief groups in the game.

You can still play the F5 under 4.5 and bet that down to 4 (-110). Moreover, bet the full game Under down to 8 (-107).

Recommended Bets

  • Rays/Orioles F5 Under 4.5 (-120) at DraftKings (bet to 4 (-110))
  • Rays/Orioles Under 8.5 (-110) at Caesars and Under 9 (-120) at MGM (bet to 8 (-107))
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Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Guardians

Tarik Skubal vs. Aaron Civale

Tigers Odds-110
Guardians Odds-110
Over/Under8.5 (-110/-110)
First Pitch7:10 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Tigers probability: 53.7% (fair odds of -116)
  • Guardians probability: 46.3% (+116)
  • Projected total: 8.22

I’m just about ready to call Tarik Skubal an ace. Through seven starts, Skubal’s expected metrics (2.36 xERA, 2.71 xFIP, 2.80 SIERA) rank amongst the best starters in baseball.

The deadened baseball may be helping him to a somewhat significant degree this season. Skubal allowed 44 round-trippers through his first 38 big league appearances — more than two per nine innings — on an HR/FB rate north of 20% (league average 13.6% in 2021, 14.6% in 2020).

Those marks have regressed the other direction — to 5.4% early this season (0.45 HR/9) — but Skubal also changed his pitch mix midway through 2021, exchanging four-seam fastballs for sinkers at a significant rate.

From 2020 through the early part of the 2021 season, Skubal threw his four-seam fastball 60% of the time (that rate is down to 28.9% this season).

And his sinker — which he didn’t start throwing until the midpoint of last year — is used more than 1/5 of the time (21.1%). Moreover, Skubal has steadily increased his rate of sliders (15.7% to 22.7%, and now 28.7%).

I suspect that he’ll opt for more changeups at some point — since that pitch generates the highest percentage of whiffs.

However, both the slider and sinker have a ground-ball rate right around 50%. With increased usage of those offerings comes a substantially increased ground-ball rate (up from 27.7% in 2020 to 38.5% last year, to 48.1% this season).

Skubal went from an ineffective fly-ball pitcher to ranking 15th among 58 qualified starters this season in ground-ball rate. And he’s also improved his command with age (5% walk rate), ranking 11th amongst that same group of qualified pitchers.

I project a substantial gap between Skubal and his Friday opponent, Aaron Civale (5.57 xERA, 4.60 xFIP, 3.99 SIERA), whose own long-ball issue (1.41 HR/9 career) has somehow amplified this season (2.19 HR/9).

Civale is due for significant regression from his 9.85 ERA, thanks to a 44% strand rate (72% career) and a .382 BABIP.

Still, Civale’s ground-ball rate (24.7%) has nearly halved year over year (45% in 2021) after changing his pitch mix. Someone I once viewed as a high floor pitcher currently seems lost and searching for a proper gameplan.

While I project value on Detroit’s full game moneyline (up to -108), I rate Cleveland as the far superior defensive club and measure the two bullpens as relative equals.

I projected Skubal and the Tigers closer to 60% (-151 implied) over the First Five Innings (F5), and would bet their F5 moneyline up to -139.

Recommended Bets

  • Detroit Tigers F5 (-110 and -120) at DraftKings (bet to -139)
  • Detroit Tigers (-105) at WynnBET and (+104) at Rivers (bet to -108)
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Bets (May 20)

  • Arizona Diamondbacks F5 (+125) at MGM (bet to +112)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+120) at DraftKings (bet to +115)
  • Athletics/Angels Over 8 (+100) at DraftKings (bet to -110)
  • Boston Red Sox F5 (-110) at MGM (bet to -112)
  • Boston Red Sox (-110) at Draftkings (bet to -112)
  • Cardinals/Pirates F5 Under 4.5 (-108) at MGM (bet to 4 (-110))
  • Cardinals/Pirates Under 8.5 (-115) at DraftKings (bet to 8 (-105))
  • Cincinnati Reds F5 (+140) at DraftKings (bet to +140)
  • Detroit Tigers F5 (-110 and -120) at DraftKings (bet to -139)
  • Detroit Tigers (-105) at WynnBET and (+104) at Rivers (bet to -108)
  • Kansas City Royals (+120) at WynnBET (bet to +118)
  • Mets/Rockies Over 10 (-110) at Caesars (bet to 10.5 (-108))
  • Miami Marlins (+117) at WynnBET (bet to +116)
  • Rays/Orioles F5 Under 4.5 (-120) at DraftKings (bet to 4 (-110))
  • Rays/Orioles Under 8.5 (-110) at Caesars and Under 9 (-120) at MGM (bet to 8 (-107))
  • Philadelphia Phillies (+135) at WynnBET (bet to +129)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+141) at WynnBET (bet to +137)
  • San Francisco Giants (-105) at DraftKings (bet to -105)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (-125) at WynnBET (bet to -134)
  • Twins/Royals Under 8.5 (-115) at WynnBET (bet to 8 (-103))
  • Washington Nationals (+200) at WynnBET (bet to +190)

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