MLB Odds, Predictions: Picks for Padres vs. Dodgers & More
Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images. Pictured: Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres.
- All 30 MLB teams will take the field for Friday night's slate
- Anthony Dabbundo broke down six of his top games for Friday, including picks for Cardinals vs. Red Sox, Padres vs. Dodgers and more.
- Check out all of Dabbundo's top bets for Friday's MLB slate below.
All 30 teams in Major League Baseball are in action on Friday night after a shortened Thursday slate.
The Rays and Yankees will continue their series in the Bronx as Gerrit Cole takes the mound one day after Tampa Bay handled his team, 8-2, on Thursday.
The Padres and Dodgers begin their second straight weekend series on Friday with Blake Snell taking on Dustin May with Los Angeles four games ahead of San Diego in the division standings.
Most people didn’t expect the Pirates and Orioles to be above .500 this far into the season, but both would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. They begin a three-game series in Baltimore on Friday.
St. Louis and Boston also face off in Fenway this weekend, while two young pitching phenoms face off in Reds vs. Marlins as Eury Pérez makes his MLB debut on the mound for Miami.
Here are my thoughts on six games from Friday’s MLB slate.
Mariners at Tigers
6:40 p.m. ET · Marco Gonzales vs. Matthew Boyd
As long as Julio Rodriguez isn’t putting up elite production at the top of the Mariners’ lineup, Seattle is going to have major problems scoring consistently. Rodriguez is whiffing more and chasing more in 2023, and his OPS sits at just .654.
The Mariners are 27th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching and just 19th in the league overall.
Seattle has the third-highest strikeout rate against southpaws and now gets a matchup with Matthew Boyd, who projects as a 4.50 ERA pitcher. However, he has actually pitched better than that thus far. His 3.78 xERA is accompanied by a decrease in his walk rate and improved command and Location+ numbers.
Boyd is opposed by lefty Marco Gonzales, which puts the Tigers in their preferred offensive split. Detroit has been just above average against left-handed pitching since the start of last year with a 101 wRC+, considerably better than its league-worst production against righties.
Gonzales’ walk rate is elevated once again, and his K-BB% remains below 10% overall. Detroit has the starter edge, and given the hand splits, the offensive edge.
I’d bet Detroit at +100 or better.
Pick: Tigers ML (+100 or Better)
Reds at Marlins
6:40 p.m. ET · Graham Ashcraft vs. Eury Pérez
It’s important to not overreact to one bad start, especially when it’s an extreme outlier like Graham Ashcraft’s start on Sunday against the White Sox.
He hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his first six starts in 2023 until he let in eight runs on six hits in 1.2 innings against a below-average Chicago lineup.
With that said, the K-BB% numbers aren’t all that impressive, and he’s going to need to really suppress BABIP and homers to maintain a solid ERA this year. His last five starts featured just 17 strikeouts and 14 walks in 24.2 innings. Those strikeout and walk peripherals are why the projection systems don’t love Ashcraft going forward, and why he’s projected for a 4.50 ERA for the rest of the season.
There are two ways to look at Ashcraft, though.
The decrease in homers allowed in 2023 could be noise and a small sample size, but it’s more likely a result of his increased stuff. His Stuff+ on his cutter and slider put him among the best starters in the league. Even if you combine the limited arsenal and the mediocre command, the stuff is too good to not expect him to beat that projection.
Ashcraft is opposed by 20-year-old rookie Eury Pérez. Pérez has dominated Double-A this season and has the stuff and the size to intimidate and overpower Major League hitters.
Given the pitcher-friendly ballpark environment and the two bottom-five offenses by wRC+, I’d look to play the under on Friday night. The total opened at eight and is closer to 7.5 as of writing, but I’d bet the under if it gets back to eight. At 7.5, it’s a pass.
Braves at Blue Jays
7:07 p.m. ET · Spencer Strider vs. Chris Bassitt
Now that Jacob deGrom is out injured indefinitely, you could make a convincing case that Spencer Strider is the best starting pitcher in baseball. He leads the league in K/9, and only deGrom and Shohei Ohtani have better Stuff+ numbers among qualified starters.
He’s followed up his 2.39 xERA in 2022 with a 2.62 xERA in 2023, all while improving his K-BB%. Some of the best relievers in baseball strike out 40% of hitters, and Strider is doing that as a starter.
The Braves’ dominant righty — and NL Cy Young favorite — is opposed by Jays righty Chris Bassitt.
Bassitt entered 2023 as one of the slowest and most deliberate pitchers in the league in between pitches and at-bats. You can’t automatically attribute his struggles to the pitch clock, but he certainly hasn’t looked like the Bassitt of old. The slight drop in velocity is notable, and despite his deep arsenal of pitches, only one of them grades out as above average.
Statcast gives Bassitt a seven-pitch mix. His fastball is a 75 Stuff+, while his sinker (86) and cutter (96) are better but still below average as a whole. His sweeper (107 Stuff+) is the only pitch that Eno Sarris‘ model likes, while the once-elite curveball and splitter are below-average pitches too. As a whole, Bassitt’s Stuff+ at 91 is much lower than last season.
The gap between Strider and Bassitt is bigger than the market is projecting here. I’d bet Atlanta on the moneyline at -165 or better.
Pick: Braves ML (-165 or Better)
Cardinals at Red Sox
7:07 p.m. ET · Adam Wainwright vs. James Paxton
James Paxton makes his full MLB return on Friday at Fenway against Adam Wainwright.
Wainwright’s first start was up and down overall, but his underlying metrics were solid. He used the curveball — which remains elite — more than ever. His fastball wasn’t thrown hard, but it graded out really well in the Stuff+ model for its movement. It’s only one start against a bad Tigers lineup, but five Ks in five innings is respectable too.
Paxton had a 98 Stuff+ in Triple-A Worcester this year, but this is a brutal first matchup for the southpaw. St. Louis was one of the best lineups in MLB against lefties last season, and the hitting conditions are excellent for offense at Fenway in this game.
The question is, who can better control contact? The Red Sox are considerably worse defensively than St. Louis, and Wainwright still has two above-average pitches that he threw 70% of the time in his first start.
There’s a lot more uncertainty and downside risk with Paxton, who has barely pitched in MLB for multiple seasons. He walked 16 batters in 21.2 minor league innings this year, which demonstrates concern about his lacking command. Wainwright has a much higher floor than Paxton here.
Even though this game is in Boston, it represents a decent buy-low spot on the Cardinals’ poor start. Plus, Wainwright didn’t look totally finished in his last start. Compared to parts of last year, Wainwright might actually be improved if the fastball will continue to grade out as well as it did.
Pick: Cardinals ML (+100 or Better)
Astros at White Sox
8:10 p.m. ET · J.P. France vs. Michael Kopech
It’s hard to fathom the numbers on Michael Kopech this season.
His xERA sits at 8.10, but you have to factor in that Kopech was tipping pitches in at least one start early this season. His Stuff+ of 114 is improved from last season, and most of his issues come from contact quality allowed, not his K-BB%.
He had a blow-up start against San Francisco in which the Giants were reported to have picked up on his tipping. Kopech also struggled in Tampa Bay and Toronto, two elite offenses.
It sounds crazy because of the name on the jersey, but the Astros are a below-average offense right now, especially against right-handed pitching.
Both offenses are in their worse offensive split here, with Chicago projecting considerably worse against righties than lefties.
Houston starter J.P. France had four pitches grade out as average or better in his MLB debut, and his 102 Stuff+ in Triple-A suggests it’s not entirely a fluke that he registered a 115 overall in his MLB debut.
The question is whether or not France has enough command to be a consistent mid-rotation starter.
In this matchup, command isn’t quite as important. The White Sox chase more than any offense in baseball and are the least disciplined offense in the league. France can skate by with middling command against this offense.
The total is nine at FanDuel and I’d bet that at -120 or better.
Pick: Under 9 (-120)
Padres at Dodgers
10:10 p.m. ET · Blake Snell vs. Dustin May
The Padre’s two best hitters might finally be waking up and joining the 2023 season.
Juan Soto and Manny Machado have vastly underperformed the preseason projections, but there are signs that both are heating up.
The trend line of the rolling wOBA for both hitters is trending nearly straight upward, and it’s accompanied by a decrease in chase rate for Machado and a decrease in ground ball rate for Soto.
The Padres have played .500 baseball without Tatis for half of the season and without typical production from Soto and Machado.
The Dodgers still project much worse against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. It was true last season, and it’s remained true this year. The Dodgers are third in wRC+ against righties and just 22nd against southpaws.
Blake Snell had another early-season blip with his command, but his Stuff+ numbers remain fine, and he has the stuff to generate whiffs and handle this Dodger lineup.
Dustin May takes the ball for the Dodgers, and he’s just not missing bats this season. He’s in the zone slightly more, and his pitches outside the zone are getting hit more than ever. His swinging strike rate has cut from 14.1% in 2021 to 12.9% in 2022 to 6.2% in 2023.
Given that he’s not making up for it with called strikes, I tend to lean more toward THE BAT‘s projection for a mid-4s ERA than some other systems that have him closer to 3.75-4.
The Dodgers have owned the Padres in the regular season for years, but San Diego is a live underdog on Friday.
Pick: Padres ML (+115 or Better)
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