MLB Expert Predictions for Friday Night: Our Staff’s 4 Favorite Bets, Including Cardinals vs. Giants
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dakota Hudson
- There are 13 evening MLB games on tap for Friday.
- Our experts detail their favorite bets of the night, including Orioles-Blue Jays (7:07 p.m. ET) and Red Sox-Tigers (7:10 p.m. ET).
Collin Wilson: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
Dylan Bundy (3-10, 4.91 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (3-11, 6.31 ERA)
- Orioles Moneyline: +121
- Blue Jays Moneyline: -131
- Over/Under: 10.5
- First pitch: 7:07 p.m. ET
Dylan Bundy and Aaron Sanchez have had less-than-ideal seasons. Sanchez has not won a decision since late April, while Bundy’s last win came on June 4. Both pitchers have already reached double digits in the loss column. That may get most gamblers to wager on the over, but my projection is just around 10 for this game, giving the under some value.
The Blue Jays rank seventh in the league in strikeout percentage against right-handers, which may favor a side bet on Bundy’s strikeout over. With a wRC+ and wOBA in the bottom-third of the league, Toronto’s sticks may help Bundy have a rare quality start.
Sanchez, meanwhile, is supporting an xFIP that is a full run lower than his ERA, but it is impossible to deny how bad the Blue Jays’ righty has been. Sanchez has not made it through the fourth inning in three of his last four starts. The Blue Jays bullpen should be heavily involved against an Orioles offense that ranks in the bottom-five versus righties in wRC+, wOBA and ISO.
The PICK: Under 10.5
Sean Zerillo: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.74 ERA) vs. Brendan McKay (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Yankees Moneyline: -108
- Rays Moneyline: -102
- Over/Under: 8.5
- First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
At 56-50, the Tampa Bay Rays have been the most profitable moneyline underdog in baseball since the start of the 2018 season, netting a $100 bettor $2,410. That’s good for a 22% return on investment (ROI).
The Rays have gone 28-29 as a divisional underdog (16.5% ROI) and 28-21 (30% ROI) against everyone else.
Their peak value has come as a home underdog in the pitcher-friendly confines of Tropicana Field, going 27-14 (66%) since the start of the 2018 season (+$2,136; 52% ROI).
Masahiro Tanka is 4-5 in his past nine outings against the Rays (all since 2017) after beginning his career on an 8-0 run against them.
The fact that the Rays moneyline has experienced a line freeze after opening at -101, despite fewer than 40% of cash and tickets coming their way, further indicates that some sharp money backing them.
The PICK: Rays -102
Evan Abrams: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
Eduardo Rodriguez (8-4, 4.79 ERA) vs. Gregory Soto (0-2, 8.82 ERA)
- Red Sox Moneyline: -230
- Tigers Moneyline: +210
- Over/Under: 11
- First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
The Tigers enter their game on Friday night with the third-worst record in baseball, having lost 15 of their last 18 games overall. So, there’s a reason Detroit is +210 in this matchup.
But the angle I am looking at for Friday specifically focuses on Boston and its travel. The Red Sox are coming off a three-game series on the road in Toronto, where they won two games.
Looking at our Bet Labs data, we’ve only seen two teams to close -200 or higher that do not have a day of rest in between a road game in Toronto and their next road game in a different location. So I like getting an underdog north of +200 in this spot.
Detroit starts rookie Gregory Soto, who has struggled in 2019 with an 8.44 ERA in six starts, but he has been much more stable at home (8 ER in 13.2 IP) than on the road (12 ER in 7.2 IP).
Eduardo Rodriguez gets the ball for Boston. He owns a 4.79 ERA in 2019 and has allowed 15 HR (second-most on Red Sox), along with 31 walks (most on Red Sox).
So why is Rodriguez such a big favorite tonight? Boston is 31-9 (77.5%) in his 40 regular season starts over the last two seasons. In those 40 starts, Rodriguez owns a 4.24 ERA overall, 3.95 ERA at home and a 4.56 ERA on the road.
Since 2018, no starting pitcher in baseball has received more run support on average than Rodriguez (6.85 runs per game), which has obviously inflated his record.
I will take a shot on Detroit tonight given the high line and favorable spot against Boston.
The PICK: Tigers +210
Josh Appelbaum: St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants
Dakota Hudson (6-4, 3.40 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (2-8, 6.25 ERA)
- Cardinals Moneyline: -101
- Giants Moneyline: -107
- Over/Under: 8.5
- First pitch: 10:15 p.m. ET
On paper, this looks like a layup for the Cardinals. St. Louis has a better record and a massive edge in the starting pitcher department. How can you not back the Cards at a virtual pick’em against a pitcher with a 6.25 ERA?
But of course, if it looks too good to be true it almost always is.
Just take a look at the line movement.
St. Louis opened as a -129 road favorite and San Francisco a +119 home dog. Despite 65% of bets backing the Cardinals, this line has absolutely plummeted away from STL (-129 to -101), and turned SF from a dog to a favorite (+119 to -107). This massive reverse movement was a result of four bet signals pummeling the Giants.
So far this season, unpopular favorites (receiving fewer than 50% of bets), have won 59.5% of their games (+13.19 units, 6.9% ROI). Historically, home non-divisional favorites with reverse line movement have won +79.95 units (+7.1% ROI) since 2005.
It doesn’t hurt that San Francisco is playing well of late (6-4 in its last 10, winners of four straight), while St. Louis has struggled (4-6 in its last 10).
This season, the Cards have gone just 14-18 when listed as a dog, while the G-Men are 13-7 when listed as a favorite.
The PICK: Giants -107