MLB Betting Picks: Best Bets for Red Sox vs. Yankees, Brewers vs. Cubs, Rangers vs. Rockies, More
Ronald Martinez, Getty Images. Pictured: Joey Gallo
A slow Thursday night in Major League Baseball has been followed up with a busy Friday, as 14 games will get underway over about a three-hour span starting just after 6:30 p.m. ET.
And with that busy slate has come a full pack of picks from our baseball staff. Moneylines, run lines, over/unders, first-fives — whatever you’re into, there’s probably something in here for you.
Here are our five favorite spots on tap tonight.
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.
Odds as of 12 p.m. ET
Danny Donahue: Red Sox +1.5 (+155) vs. Yankees
The return of the “Keep it simple, stupid” betting system.
With Gerrit Cole getting the nod tonight against the Red Sox, the Yankees are heavily favored tonight in the Bronx. And that’s probably fair. The Sox are coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rays — a series in which they allowed 42 runs — and are now sitting at 6-13, in last place in the AL East.
They’re also opposing Cole with a bullpen day …
Stepping in front of the train that is a -335 favorite is certainly no bettor’s great desire, but doing so on the run line has actually proved to be a profitable play historically.
In fact, simply fading teams at -300 or higher by taking their opponents at +1.5 runs has resulted in 25.5 units won for a 9.1% ROI since 2005 (119-144 record). I’ll take the plus-runs at plus-money tonight and say a prayer for the Sox’ relievers.
Collin Wilson: Royals vs. Twins Under 10 (-115)
If you are looking for two teams that have a fair share of strikeouts and a low number of walks against right-handed pitching, the Royals and Twins should fill your appetite.
Minnesota sports a 28.4% K-rate, the fourth-highest in the MLB, against right-handers like Jakob Junis, who averages 8.4 strikeouts per 9 innings.
The Royals have made more contact against right-handers than the Twins, but not by much. Kansas City has the 11th-highest strikeout percentage against righties this season.
And don’t expect many free passes, either. Kansas City ranks dead last in walk-to-strikeout ratio this season and Minnesota is 25th.
Mother Nature should also aide the under as the forecast calls for 15 MPH winds gusting in from right and left field during the game.
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Stuckey: Brewers Moneyline (-112) vs. Cubs, Rangers Moneyline (-126) vs. Rockies
- Odds available at FanDuel [Bet Now]
- First pitches: Brewers vs. Cubs 8:15 p.m. ET, Rangers vs. Rockies 8:40 p.m. ET
Let’s fade two of the best teams in the NL so far this season at home as underdogs against two teams that are under .500. Sounds fun, right?
The Cubs are off to a red-hot start at 13-3, thanks to the strength of their rotation, which has compiled a 12-3 record with a sparkling 2.55 ERA that leads the league.
But before we get too carried away and crown Chicago, the combined records of the teams it has played so far this year sits at 37-54. Only one of its first five opponents has a winning record: the Indians at 10-9.
Now, obviously the Cubs have had something to say about those records this early in the season but the schedule has been super friendly with the likes of Pittsburgh, Kansas City and the reeling Reds.
Tyler Chatwood takes the hill for the Cubs tonight. He got shelled in Kansas City in his last start but the underlying metrics are very promising (2.55 FIP). Command has always been Chatwood’s biggest issue but the stuff has always been there.
Still, he’s not a guy that is going to go very deep into games, which is where I think the Brewers will have the biggest advantage tonight in a battle of bullpens.
Chicago’s bullpen is the clear weakness of the team (6.47 ERA is third-worst in MLB). Closer Craig Kimbrel looks toast, so Rowan Wick has had to pick up the pieces but he’s likely not available tonight after pitching the past two nights. That leaves really only one arm you trust in Jeremy Jeffress, who has yet to allow a run.
But even his strikeout numbers and velocity are very concerning. The regression monster looms and could come out to play tonight with a lineup that knows him very well.
Milwaukee will counter with Brandon Woodruff, a true ace that not enough baseball fans know about. He has looked great to start the season as well, sporting a 2.53 ERA and striking out nearly 11 batters per nine with a slight uptick in velocity.
You can also expect all hands on deck from the Brewers pen, which is averaging the second most K/9 in MLB this year. You’d also hope Counsell unleashes Hader in a close game against an opponent starting to run away with first place in the division in a shortened season.
The Cubs could also be without Kris Bryant again tonight with a minor wrist issue that’s kept him out of the lineup.
I’m also fading the Rockies tonight. Yes, I know Ryan Castellani looked great in his first MLB start (against a pathetic Mariners lineup) and has mechanics similar to Max Scherzer, but have you seen his Triple-A numbers? He had an ERA over 8 last year in Triple-A.
Yes, he had elbow surgery in late 2019 and has been showing improvement since but he still doesn’t project well per my numbers. Also, he’ll likely be more of an opener, which means he’ll get a quick hook at the first sign of trouble after a few innings and the Rangers will get into that very vulnerable Rockies bullpen that currently doesn’t have the services of either Wade Davis or Scott Oberg as a result of injury.
Meanwhile, Lance Lynn continues to not get enough respect from the betting market. All he’s done is produce since leaving the Yankees (similar to Sonny Gray) — and in Texas no less. He’s off to a fast start this year (2-0, 1.16 ERA in four starts) and I like taking on this Rockies lineup with a right-handed starter.
Coors can get even the best pitchers on any given day but I feel confident Lynn can go out there and grind through six while the Rangers attack Castellani and a bad bullpen. For what it’s worth, Lynn has previously pitched well at Coors in a limited sample size: 2.84 ERA in four starts.
Brew and Rangers are my two favorite bets tonight.
BJ Cunningham: Rangers F5 Moneyline (-122) vs. Rockies
Lance Lynn has been really good to start the season, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits in 23.1 innings of work. The righty is predominantly a fastball pitcher and for good reason — he’s got an elite heater.
Lynn’s No. 1 has produced a 30.7% whiff rate in 2019 and it’s been even better in 2020, only allowing a .259 wOBA to opponents. He also mixes in a slider/cutter-type pitch that isn’t up to his fastball’s standards, but it keeps hitters from timing his heater.
The top of the Rockies lineup has been feasting on fastballs so far in 2020. However, I think Lynn’s will be able to keep Colorado’s hitters at bay.
Ryan Castellani might be the worst starting pitcher in the Majors this season. I have no idea why he was called up from the minors to begin the season. Castellani pitched to a 6.26 xFIP and 8.31 ERA in 43.1 innings in Triple-A in 2019. ZIPS projects his fastball for a 6.27 ERA and that honestly may be generous.
Castellani struggled with his control in his 10 Triple-A outings last year, allowing a 6.23 BB/9 and a 2.91 HR/9. Those numbers are tough to trust at Coors Field.
The Rangers offense has been anemic to begin the season, but they should have no trouble against a pitcher who should be in Double-A. The starting pitching matchup in this game is a complete mismatch, so I am going to back Lynn and the Rangers for the first five innings at -122.