5 MLB Betting Picks For Friday Night: Angels vs. Athletics, Rockies vs. Rangers, More

Credit:

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Frankie Montas

It’s finally here. The first full MLB slate of 2020 — only about four months late.

But we’ll take it, and we’ll also (obviously) bet on it. Our baseball crew is all over Friday’s 14-game slate, but here are the bets we like most, starting with this afternoon’s NL East pitcher’s duel.

Odds as of 11 a.m. ET.

Michael Leboff: Mets vs. Braves Under 4 – First 5 innings (-120)

Jacob deGrom and Mike Soroka both check a lot of boxes for an under bet at Citi Field on Friday, but I’d rather just stick to the first-5-innings line because I’m not ready for bullpens to ruin my night on the first full day of this unique MLB season. Dipping my toes in the water, as it were.

You probably know about deGrom’s sparkling statistical profile at this point, but the one thing that sticks out to me the most for this bet is his low home-run rate. The back-to-back Cy Young Award winner finished fifth in the MLB with a 0.82 HR/9 in 2019, which makes me hopeful he can avoid an under-ruining dinger.

I’ve got similar confidence in Soroka, who actually finished second in that same category among qualified pitchers last year. Soroka was masterful at inducing soft contact last year, finishing with the sixth-best ground-ball rate in the MLB in 2019.

While deGrom is able to dial up strikeouts to get out of jams and rarely walks batters, his Canadian counterpart uses the groundball to wriggle off the hook.

With the added caveat that nobody knows what kind of form anybody will be coming out of the gate, I’m still confident that these guys can keep this game quiet through the fifth.

Collin Wilson: Royals vs. Indians Over 9 (-130)

If there is one takeaway from 2019 with the starting pitchers in this game, they got hit hard by their respective opposing teams. The Royals tagged Shane Bieber for nine earned runs through 18 innings, while the Indians have blistered Danny Duffy for 21 earned runs in 28.1 innings since 2018.

Cleveland was one of the best hitting and most patient teams against left-handed pitching last season. The Indians ranked fourth in walk percentage against Southpaws, meaning Duffy’s inflated WHIP in recent history against Cleveland will be in play.

Considering my Royals have the worst projected bullpen in MLB per Fangraphs, this will be the first of many Overs on Kansas City during the shortened 2020 season.

Danny Donahue: Brewers vs. Cubs Under 8.5 (+102)

As it pertains to weather — and wind specifically — Wrigley Field provides a massive opportunity for bettors. Not only is it one of the windiest parks in the league, it’s also the one whose gameplay is most affected by wind.

As my colleague PJ Walsh pointed out today, since 2005, there have been 374 games in which the wind has blown in from the outfield or across the field at Wrigley — in other words, all directions but out — with average speeds of at least 5 mph. In those games, the under has gone 219-137-18 (61.5%), winning 67.5 units for an 18.0% return on investment.

And consider this: no other ballpark even reaches a 6% ROI in the given conditions.

With 5-7 mph winds expected tonight, a plus-money under 8.5 or a juiced-up under 9 will do for me here.

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BJ Cunningham: Rockies Moneyline (-103) vs. Rangers

German Marquez rates out really well in my model, with a 0.47 BaseRuns allowed per inning, which ranks inside the top 40 starting pitchers. His curveball is predominantly his best pitch, with only a .149 wOBA average against in 2019

Lance Lynn is predominantly a fastball pitcher, but he’s got an elite one. Lynn’s fastball produced a 30.7% whiff rate in 2019 and allowed only a .294 wOBA against. However, the top of the Rockies lineup feasted on fastballs in 2019, creating 72.7 weighted fastball runs (wFB) in 2019.

I don’t think the Rangers should be favored in this matchup. Marquez rates out better than Lynn in my model and the Rockies have a better lineup. With the bullpen matchup being pretty much a wash, I project the Rockies as -125 favorites in my model.

Therefore, I think there’s good value in backing Marquez and the Rockies tonight.

Sean Zerillo: Athletics Moneyline (-140) vs. Angels

The Oakland Athletics have been one of the most productive and profitable teams against left-handed pitching over the past couple of seasons — and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Since July 1, 2018, the Athletics are 53-23 (69.7%, +21.6 units) when facing a left-handed starter, including a 34-14 record (71%) last season.

The A’s can run out a full lineup of right-handed hitters whenever they desire, and their only regular lefty, first baseman Matt Olson, is a league-average hitter against same-sided pitching.

Over the past two years, the remainder of their lineup has featured eight above-average bats against southpaw pitching: Mark Canha (135 wRC+), Stephen Piscotty (133 wRC+), Khris Davis (130 wRC+), Marcus Semien (128 wRC+), Matt Chapman (125 wRC+), Ramon Laureano (121 wRC+), Chad Pinder (115 wRC+) and second-year Catcher Sean Murphy (103 wrC+).


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.


As a team, they have posted a 118 wRC+ against lefties over that same span – the third-best mark in baseball behind the Astros (129 wRC+) and Yankees (121 wRC+).

Angels starter Andrew Heaney (4.18 xFIP in 2019) has been pretty effective against Oakland over six career outings (38.1 IP, 3.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7 BB, 43 K), but I do show the marvelous Frankie Montas (3.47 xFIP in 2019) leading the A’s to victory 62.2% of the time on Opening Day — implied odds of -164.

I would bet Oakland up to -145 (implied 59.2%), at a 3% edge.

Stuckey: Athletics Moneyline (-140) vs. Angels

Shouldn’t be a shocker that I’m starting off my 2020 MLB season with a bet on the Oakland Athletics, a team I’m very high on this season.

I like what Montas did during the break to stay sharp, while Heaney could be limited tonight after missing his last warmup start with back stiffness. And like Zerillo mentioned, I just love this A’s lineup against lefty starters. They have the entire core of their lineup back from last year, a year in which they mashed southpaws all season.

Oakland finished sixth in the league with an .811 OPS against LHP — almost 50 points higher than their number against righties — and that was with a horrid year from slugger Khris Davis.

Give me the A’s here at -140 or better.

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