MLB Expert Predictions for Friday: Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Bets, Including Orioles vs. Angels


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski (29).

  • Our experts give out their favorite plays for Friday's MLB slate, including Red Sox vs. Yankees and Reds vs. Rockies.

Josh Appelbaum: Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds

German Marquez (9-5, 4.99 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo (9-3, 2.36 ERA)

  • Rockies Moneyline: +124
  • Reds Moneyline: -134
  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • First pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

Recreational bettors love backing favorites, home teams and ace starting pitchers. They also love betting against teams mired in a losing skid. With the Rockies just 2-9 in their last 11 games, Luis Castillo and the Reds are a no-brainer wager for the public tonight.

So of course wiseguys are buying low on the Rockies in an undervalued road dog spot.

This game opened with the Reds listed as a -145 home favorite and the Rockies a +134 underdog. Nearly 80% of bets are laying the chalk with Cincinnati, yet we’ve seen this line fall away from the Reds (-145 to -134) and towards the Rockies (+130 to +124).

Why would the bookmakers drop the Cincy line and hand out a sweeter number to the public when they’re already on them to begin with? No, the books aren’t stupid or being charitable. They got hit with sharp Colorado money, which created liability for the house and forced them to adjust the line toward the unpopular side in order to entice buyback on the Reds, thereby limiting their risk.

We’ve tracked a pair of steam and reverse line moves on Colorado and no conflicting plays on the Reds, which signals purely public support for the home team.

The Rockies are in a prime contrarian spot, as they’re receiving only 24% of bets in one of Friday’s most heavily-bet games. Since 2005, dogs receiving 30% or fewer bets with at least 10 cents of RLM in heavily-bet games (at least the daily average or more) have won 128.95 units with a 7.2% ROI.

THE PICK: Rockies +124

Mark Gallant: Colorado Rockies at Cincinnati Reds

German Marquez (9-5, 4.99 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo (9-3, 2.36 ERA)

  • Rockies Moneyline: +124
  • Reds Moneyline: -134
  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • First pitch: 6:40 p.m. ET

A simple glance at these two pitchers’ stats suggest that Luis Castillo is a way better pitcher than German Marquez. Marquez is pushing an ERA of 5, while Castillo is below half of that at just 2.36. Let’s delve deeper, though. Keep in mind Marquez has to pitch half his games on the moon, where his ERA is over 7.

  • Marquez: 4.99 ERA, 8.74 K/9, 1.97 BB/9, 50.8% GB%, .311 BABIP, 4.04 FIP, 3.65 xFIP
  • Castillo: 2.36 ERA, 10.53 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 56.1% GB%, .237 BABIP, 3.73 FIP, 3.74 xFIP

Castillo has been getting quite lucky when it comes to batted balls, as his BABIP is just .237. That’s super low for anyone, but absurdly low for a ground-ball pitcher. Of nearly 1,500 individual seasons since 2002, just two pitchers with a GB% over 50% have had a lower BABIP than .237: Derek Lowe (.235) in 2002 and Trevor Cahill (.236) in 2010. Quite frankly, Castillo is getting lucky and should see some regression over the final two months of the season.

With that said, I like Marquez and the Rockies at plus money. They are getting just 24% of bets, but the line has moved nearly 10 cents in their favor since opening.

THE PICK: Rockies +124

John Ewing: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

James Paxton (5-5, 4.20 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-5, 4.19 ERA)

  • Yankees Moneyline: -124
  • Red Sox Moneyline: +113
  • Over/Under: 11.5
  • First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

The Red Sox smashed the Yankees on Thursday. They scored 19 runs against their arch rivals, their most against New York in the history of the series.

Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka allowed 12 runs on 12 hits in 3.3 innings, and every Red Sox starter had at least one hit on the day. It was an ugly game for the nearly 70% of moneyline bettors who were on the Bronx Bombers.

Here’s the good news for anyone in the 212 area code: The Yanks will likely bounce back on Friday. Historically, New York has performed well after allowing a lot of runs.

Since 2005, the Yankees are 13-6 straight-up after allowing 15 or more runs. In the game after giving up 19 or more runs, New York has gone 3-0, winning by 4.7 runs per game.

Is this a small sample? Yes. But the Yankees allowing 19 runs to the Red Sox was fluky. It is very rare for a team to score a ton of runs in baseball, especially against New York, which often fields one of the best teams in baseball.

THE PICK: Yankees -124

Danny Donahue: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

James Paxton (5-5, 4.20 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-5, 4.19 ERA)

  • Yankees Moneyline: -124
  • Red Sox Moneyline: +113
  • Over/Under: 11.5
  • First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

Following last night’s 19-3 thriller, the past three Sox-Yankees games have averaged 24 runs per contest (50 combined runs in the two-game London Series).

Tonight’s total opened at 11.5 — less than half that average. Understandably, the public is all over the over (84% of bets), but this total hasn’t risen even slightly. In fact, some books are pushing it the opposite direction by juicing up the under to -120. That means the more respected bettors (sharps) are playing the under.

Sports Insights Bet Signals have triggered two moves on the under to confirm that professional action, and the under also fits a profitable Bet Labs system with a large sample size: When less than 35% of bettors take an under in a game between two over-.500 teams, the under is 1323-1077-112 since 2005, winning 190.0 units for a 7.9% ROI.

THE PICK: Under 11.5

Sean Zerillo: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels

Asher Wojciechowski (1-3, 3.91 ERA) vs. TBD

  • Orioles Moneyline: TBD
  • Angels Moneyline: TBD
  • Over/Under: TBD
  • First pitch: 10:07 p.m. ET

The Angels have yet to announce a starter for Friday following Thursday’s 16-inning contest, but that doesn’t affect my favorite bet for this game.

Asher Wojciechowski was dominant in his last start against the Red Sox, allowing one hit through 7.1 IP while striking out 10 batters by using his Woj Bomb repeatedly:

The 30-year-old righty has struck out 31 of the 94 batters he has faced this season (33%). Compared to an expected strikeout rate of 22.7% based on the teams that he faced in his four starts, that’s a net of +10.3% in actual vs. expected strikeout rate.

The Angels strike out 18.8% of the time vs. right-handed pitchers, second-best in MLB, and Wojciechowski has faced an average of 22.75 batters in his four starts.

If he faces only 22 Angels and maintains even an 8.5% gap between his actual and expected strikeout rate (projected 27.3%), he should strike out exactly six batters — with the upside for more.

THE PICK: Asher Wojciechowski Over 5.5 Strikeouts (-114)

Collin Wilson: Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners

Daniel Norris (2-8, 5.02 ERA) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (4-7, 5.37 ERA)

  • Tigers Moneyline: +125
  • Mariners Moneyline: -135
  • Over/Under: 9.5
  • First pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET

Two pitchers with ERAs that eclipse 5 will take the mound in Safeco Field T-Mobile Park. This would be a spot to look over the total, but the blue behind the dish may have other ideas.

Lance Barksdale will call balls and strikes Friday night, bringing a lifetime under record of 239-191. That’s over a 55% hit rate, making 33.93 units for bettors on the under.

Further, get Barksdale in the Pacific time zone, and games can be extraordinarily short. Per Bet Labs, under bettors on Barksdale on the West Coast have gone 47-33-6.

Both Seattle and Detroit are top 10 in strikeout percentage against left-handers since June 1. Adding to the strikeout rate and Barksdale splits, the Tigers are 29th in HR:FB% this season. The bases should be empty as plenty of balls fall short of the warning track with two lefties on the mound Friday night.

THE PICK: Under 9.5

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