MLB Expert Predictions for Friday: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets, Including Pirates vs. Mets

MLB Expert Predictions for Friday: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets, Including Pirates vs. Mets article feature image

Andy Marlin, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Steven Matz

  • Our baseball experts detail their favorite bets for Friday night's MLB action, including Mets at Pirates.

Danny Donahue: Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers

Tyler Alexander (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (13-6, 3.83 ERA)

  • Tigers Moneyline: +235
  • Rangers Moneyline: -260
  • Over/Under: 10
  • First pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET

A +235 bet is almost never one you expect to win, but there are reasons to think that the Tigers are worth a play tonight.

Bad teams coming off a win are generally undervalued, as the public can’t fathom two straight wins from a cellar-dweller. Because of that, it’s been profitable to bet teams in this exact situation.

Sub-.400 teams (through at least a quarter of the season) that won their last game have gone 318-414 — winning 89.4 units for a 12.2% ROI — when they receive less than 25% of bets, and tonight’s Tigers are getting just 19%. Pair that with Wednesday’s 9-1 win over the Angels and we’ve got a simple recipe for a strong bet.

The PICK: Tigers +235

Sean Zerillo: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

Steven Matz (6-6, 4.32 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (3-4, 4.77 ERA)

  • Away Moneyline: -112
  • Home Moneyline: 102
  • Over/Under: 9.5
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

I mentioned in my full writeup for today that the Pirates offense has a dramatic split between right-handed and left-handed pitching.

For purposes of this bet, note that they have a 19.3% strikeout rate against righties (3rd in MLB), but a 23% strikeout rate against lefties (15th in MLB), and are one of the eight least potent offenses against southpaws since 2002.

Steven Matz threw a complete game shutout vs. the Pirates on July 27 and will get a chance to extend his streak of shutout innings against the same team.

For the season, he has faced an average of 22.8 batters per game, with a 21.3% strikeout rate, 0.7% below the average strikeout rate (vs. LHP) of the offenses that he has faced.

If he holds to those averages, you can project Matz for a 22.3% strikeout rate, and 5.1 strikeouts on Friday.

Note that The Action Network projects Matz for 5.95 strikeouts, instilling me further with confidence that Matz and his big curveball can get to five punchouts on Friday.

The PICK: Steven Matz Over 4.5 Strikeouts (-120)

Evan Abrams: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

Steven Matz (6-6, 4.32 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (3-4, 4.87 ERA)

  • Mets Moneyline: -112
  • Pirates Moneyline: +102
  • Over/Under: 9.5
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

The Mets have won 7 consecutive games and are now just two games below .500 and four games out of the final wild card spot entering August.

On Friday night they send Steven Matz to the mound in Pittsburgh. Matz has struggled on the road this season with an ERA of 6.40, with opponents hitting an even .300 against him in 52 innings pitched. In his 11 road starts this season, he has allowed a home run in ten of them, including allowing 22 home runs in his last 17 road starts, allowing 2.62 home runs per nine innings.

Looking at the Mets’ recent success, the question has to be asked how good are they really? Since 2005, teams on at least a 6-game winning streak in August or later, who are below .500 on the season, are 30-41 (42.3%), including going 4-11 since 2013.

The Pirates are 0-3 against the Mets this year, getting swept in New York less than a week ago. I like the Pirates at plus money at home tonight, I would even take them as high as -105.

The PICK: Pirates (+102)

Mark Gallant: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros

Yusei Kikuchi (4-7, 5.21 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (9-4, 3.06 ERA)

  • Away Moneyline: +243
  • Home Moneyline: -275
  • Over/Under: 10
  • First pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

I’m sorry, Wade Miley has been good this year, but -275 good? I don’t think so. The veteran southpaw has pedestrian numbers when it comes to K/9 (7.53), BB/9 (2.84) and HR/9 (1.21), but somehow has an ERA of 3.06. Why? A very lucky BABIP of .242 (4th lowest in the league), especially for a ground-ball pitcher. He’s left 81% of baserunners on, too, which ranks 6th best.

Houston’s lineup obviously wipes the floor with Seattle’s, but the Mariners fit a lot of things I like, as they are super contrarian (21% of bets) against a division opponent. With the line ballooning up to +243, I’m going to take my chances on the M’s and Yusei Kikuchi.

The PICK: Mariners +243

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