MLB Odds, Expert Picks: How to Bet Friday’s Slate, Including Yankees vs. Athletics
Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Gerrit Cole (Yankees)
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Dodgers vs. Marlins, 6:40 p.m. ET
Tyler Anderson vs. Bryan Hoeing
Tyler Anderson has been fantastic for the Dodgers: 3.16 xERA, 4.079 xFIP, .224 xBA allowed. He’ll be going up against a Marlins lineup that is not only dead-last in baseball in wOBA against left-handed pitching, but one he shut down in his last start, going seven innings and giving up only one run.
He’ll be facing Bryan Hoeing, who will be making his second start in the big leagues, with his first one coming against the Dodgers. That first start was an utter disaster. Hoeing only lasted three innings, giving up eight hits, seven runs and two homers. His numbers in Triple A also leave a lot to be desired: 5.42 xFIP, 4.7 K/9 rate, 3.63 BB/9 rate .275 BA allowed.
This line is too high, but I have no interest in playing Hoeing against the Dodgers lineup after what happened six days ago.
Reds vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
Mike Minor vs. Cade Cavalli
Boy oh boy, I don’t know how many people will be watching this game.
Mike Minor has been pretty awful this season in Cincinnati. His xERA is at 4.69, his xFIP is at 5.22 and the reason for that is because his HR/9 rate is one of the worst in baseball at 2.23. In fact, he’s given up multiple home runs in 10 of his 14 starts. Thats bad. He’s also in the bottom 15% of baseball in barrel rate allowed, xSLG allowed, and xwOBA allowed.
Cade Cavalli is making his major league debut on Friday night, but his numbers in the minors are really concerning. In 2021, his xFIP in Triple-A was 4.92 and he had a 4.74 BB/9 rate. This season, he’s lowered his BB/9 rate, but his xFIP was still 4.45. Now, he is the Nationals‘ second-ranked prospect and 20th overall ranked prospect on FanGraphs. So, he definitely has potential, but given those numbers in the minors it makes me skeptical he’s going to have success right away.
I have the Nationals projected at -127 with a total of 9.5, so this one is a pass for me.
Pirates vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET
Bryse Wilson vs. Bailey Falter
Did you think you’d ever see Bailey Falter as a -250 favorite? I didn’t.
Falter is a big-time negative regression candidate because his ERA is at 4.40, but his xERA is at 5.18. Oh, and not to mention his HR/9 rate is sitting at 2.00. He’s in the bottom 20% of baseball in xBA allowed, xwOBA allowed, barrel rate allowed, and xSLG allowed, per Baseball Savant. So even though the Pirates haven’t hit lefties well, you can see why this price is a little high.
Another reason why this price is a little high is because Bryse Wilson has been terrible. His xERA is 5.46 with an incredibly low 5.97 K/9 rate. He’s allowing one of the highest xBAs in baseball at .296 and is also in the bottom 5% in average exit velocity allowed and xwOBA allowed. The Phillies are top 10 in MLB in terms of wOBA against right-handed pitching, so they could light up Wilson.
However, I have the Phillies projected at -196, so to get the Pirates at a price of +230 (DraftKings) is something I can’t pass up.
Pick: Pirates +230
Angels vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET
Reid Detmers vs. Mitch White
Reid Detmers is a slight negative regression candidate, as his ERA is at 3.66, but has an xERA of 4.15. He’s basically been the definition of average as a MLB starting pitcher in a lot of advanced metrics. He does do a good job of mixing his pitches, having four different pitches that he uses over 12% of the time. Toronto is 12th against lefties in terms of wOBA.
Mitch White came over in a trade with the Dodgers and he’s been half-way decent. His xERA is at 3.87 and his hard hit rate allowed is only 33.3%, which is impressive. He mainly uses a fastball, slider and curveball, which is big against the Angels have a -68.8 combined run value against those three pitches.
I have the Blue Jays projected at -145 with a total of 8.9, so this one is a pass for me.
Rockies vs. Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET
Chad Kuhl vs. Chris Bassitt
Chad Kuhl has been a well below average starting pitcher with main reason being his BB/9 rate is 4.02 and his K/9 rate is only 6.64. So you can see why his xERA is 4.95.
Image via Baseball Savant
Chris Bassitt has been one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball this season. He has an xERA of 3.18, he’s allowing a 31.4% hard hit rate (90th percentile), and opposing hitters only have a 85.5 mph average exit velocity against him (95th percentile).
He has five different pitches that he goes to over 10% of the time and outside of his slider, every pitch is allowing an xwOBA under .270, which is really impressive.
I have the Mets projected at -246 with a total of 8.2, so this is an easy pass.
Rays vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET
JT Chargois vs. Michael Wacha
Should the Red Sox be favored in this matchup?
The Rays are going with JT Chargois as an opener but Ryan Yarbrough will pitch a majority of the game.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 26, 2022
Yarbrough has been an average MLB pitcher, posting a 4.41 xERA. The great thing about Yarbrough is even though he does allow an average xBA and xwOBA against him, he consistently has one of the lowest hard hit rate and average exit velocity’s against him.
This season is not different, as he’s only allowing a 31.3% hard hit rate and 84.4 mph average exit velocity. Both of those are in the top 10% of baseball.
If you looked at Michael Wacha on paper you’d probably be incredibly impressed: 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, opponents are only hitting .204 against him. However, if we look beneath the surface, it actually is quite alarming how much negative regression he is due. His xERA is at 4.26, almost two runs higher than his actual ERA.
The Rays also have a huge mismatch in the bullpens. Tampa Bay has a significantly better xFIP, LOB%, and K/BB ratio than the Red Sox.
I have the Rays projected as -117 favorites, so I like the value on them at +107 (BetRivers) and would play it down to +105.
Pick: Rays +107
Tigers vs. Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET
Tyler Alexander vs. Glenn Otto
This line is far too high for Glenn Otto.
He has been an utter disaster for the Rangers this season with some really alarming advanced metrics. His xERA is 5.49 (despite having a 4.66 ERA), he only has a 6.75 K/9 rate, with a horrendous 4.94 BB/9 rate,. Both of those marks are in the bottom 5% among MLB starting pitchers. Yes, the Tigers are worst offense in MLB, but even they should be able to get to Otto.
Tyler Alexander hasn’t been drastically better than Otto because his xERA is at 5.11. Alexander is in the bottom 5% of baseball in xBA allowed, xSLG allowed and xwOBA average allowed. He does throw a fastball, sinker, cutter combination as his main three pitches and the Rangers do have a -3 run value against the left-handed version of those three pitches.
Then we come to the fact that the bullpen matchup is basically dead even:
I think Otto and the Rangers are grossly overpriced. I only have the Rangers projected at -112, so I love the Tigers +148 (BetRivers) and would play it down to +130.
Pick: Tigers +148
Orioles vs. Astros, 8:10 p.m. ET
Kyle Bradish vs. Lance McCullers Jr.
Kyle Bradish was the Orioles’ seventh-ranked prospect and was brought up in the beginning of the season to improve their rotation. However, so far he’s not been an improvement. In 15 starts he has a 5.35 xERA and is allowing a .391 xwOBA, which is in the bottom 3% of baseball.
The Astros have obliterated fastballs to the tune of a +48 run value, which is the third-best mark in baseball. That also just happens to be a pitch that Bradish goes to over 50% of the time.
Lance McCullers Jr. has made only two starts since coming off the IL, but if we go back to last season, he was pretty dominant: 3.38 xERA/10.26 K/9 rate, and opposing hitters only had a .208 xBA against him.
McCullers mainly goes to a four-pitch arsenal of sinker, slider, curveball and changeup. His slider was by far his best pitch last year, as opponents only had a .144 xBA against it while producing a 35.9% whiff rate. The Orioles have the third-highest chase rate and fifth highest whiff rate in baseball and have a negative run value against sliders.
I have the Astros projected at -182 with a total of 8.6, so this is an easy pass for me.
Padres vs. Royals, 8:10 p.m. ET
Joe Musgrove vs. Kris Bubic
Joe Musgrove has been incredible this season. He’s sporting a 3.18 xERA with some pretty impressive advanced metrics:
Image via Baseball Savant
All five of his pitches are allowing an xwOBA under .300, which is incredibly impressive. The Royals have negative run values against every singe pitch type, so this is a bad matchup for them.
Kris Bubic has been really bad this year. In 20 starts, he has a 5.64 xERA with a 4.43 BB/9 rate. However, he is a heavy fastball pitcher, going to it over 50% of the time, and the Padres have a -21.4 run value against fastballs.
I have the Padres projected at -149 with a total of 8.4, so unless I can get the Royals at +170 or better this is a pass for me.
Giants vs. Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET
Alex Wood vs. Joe Ryan
This a really good pitching matchup on Friday night.
Alex Wood has been pretty unlucky up until this point in the season. He has a 4.54 ERA, but his xERA is sitting at 3.71. He has an incredibly low 2.12 BB/9 rate and opposing hitters only have a .300 xwOBA against him. The Twins are very average against left-handed pitching, ranking 16th in wOBA and 14th in wRC+.
Joe Ryan has turned himself into a stud for the Twins, posting a 3.60 xERA, opponents only have a .219 xBA against him and he’s only allowing a 35.5% hard hit rate. The problem in this matchup is Ryan is a heavy fastball pitcher, going to it over 59% of the time. The Giants are the seventh-best fastball hitting team in baseball with a +37.7 run value on the season.
The Twins do though have a slight advantage in the bullpens having a better xFIP, LOB%, and K/BB ratio than the Giants.
I have the Twins projected at -116 with a total of 8.1, so no value here for me.
Diamondbacks vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET
Tommy Henry vs. Johnny Cueto
Tommy Henry has seen limited action in the majors this season with only four starts under his belt, so there is not a lot we can take away so far, but FanGraphs has him projected as a 4.80 ERA pitcher for the rest of the season. Most importantly he is a lefty facing a White Sox lineup that is top five in baseball in both wOBA and wRC+ against lefties.
Johnny Cueto has actually been halfway decent at age 36, but negative regression is coming for him: 2.58 actual ERA versus a 3.76 xERA. He’s hardly walking anybody with a BB/9 rate at 1.90, but he’s also not getting very many swings and misses because his K/9 rate is 5.54. Arizona is 12th in wOBA since the All-Star break, so I think we may have a high scoring affair on our hands here.
I have 5.5 runs projected for the first five innings, so I like the value on Over 4.5 runs at -120 (FanDuel) and would play it up to -123.
Pick: First Five Innings Over 4.5 runs (-120)
Cubs vs. Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET
Justin Steele vs. Freddy Peralta
This a very underrated pitching matchup on Friday night. Justin Steele has been by far the Cubs‘ best pitcher, putting up a 3.45 xERA, 9.50 K/9 rate, and only allowing opposing hitters to have a .290 xwOBA.
He mainly relies on a fastball/slider combination with his slider being his best pitch by far. He’s thrown it 593 times and is only allowing a .168 xBA and .207 xwOBA on it.
Justin Steele, White Castle Special. 🤢🍔🍔🍔 pic.twitter.com/odzlR7Z096
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 10, 2022
The Brewers are horrible against left-handed pitching, ranking in the bottom 10 of baseball in both wOBA and wRC+.
Freddy Peralta is a positive regression candidate. His ERA is at 4.08, but his xERA is at a very low 3.23, which would put him the top 20 for starting pitchers. Opposing hitters only have a .210 xBA and .281 xwOBA against him, so he’s been pretty unfortunate up until this point. Peralta is a strikeout machine, too, with a K/9 rate at 10.20 and all four of his pitches are garnering at least a 25% whiff rate.
I have the Brewers projected at -143 with a total of 8.0, so this one is a pass for me.
Braves vs. Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET
Spencer Strider vs. José Quintana
I am not sure Spencer Strider is getting the proper praise for what he is doing as a rookie. In a little over 100 innings, he has a 2.50 xERA, a 13.50 K/9 rate and is allowing a .248 xwOBA.
All of those lead Major League Baseball for pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings.
What is even crazier is he is doing all of this while throwing his fastball over 67% of the time, but man is it a good one. Strider is averaging 98.2 mph on his fastball, which has translated to opponents only having a .209 xBA against it.
He also faced the Cardinals back on July 7th, going six innings, giving up only hits and striking out 12 batters.
José Quintana is a little bit of a negative regression candidate with his ERA sitting at 3.45, but his xERA being up at 4.12. Quintana has a four-pitch arsenal of fastball, changeup, curveball and sinker. The Braves have hit the left-handed version of those four pitches pretty well: +26.6 run value, .256 xBA, .341 xwOBA.
I have Strider and the Braves projected at -176 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at -142 (FanDuel) and would play it up to -151.
Pick: Braves First Five Innings -142
Yankees vs. Athletics, 9:40 p.m. ET
Gerrit Cole vs. JP Sears
What’s more fun than fading Gerrit Cole against on of the worst offenses in baseball?
If you compare Gerrit Cole’s numbers to what he’s done in his previous two season in pinstripes, he’s really just the same pitcher he’s always been.
Image via FanGraphs
Now, should he be priced as a -230 favorite on the road? I am not so sure because of who he’s facing: Former Yankee JP Sears.
Sears has been pretty good both in New York and his few starts in Oakland ever since he came over in the Frankie Montas trade. He has a 3.74 xERA, only a 2.17 BB/9 rate, and opposing hitters only have a .291 xwOBA against him. His two off-speed pitches of slider and changeup have actually been really effective. He’s thrown them a combined 205 times and only allowed four total hits off of them.
I only have Cole and the Yankees projected as -165 favorites for the first five innings, so I like the value on the A’s First Five Innings at +195 (BetRivers) and would play it down to +190.
Pick: A’s First Five Innings +195
Guardians vs. Mariners, 9:40 p.m. ET
Shane Bieber vs. Logan Gilbert
The starting pitching matchup here greatly favors Shane Bieber.
Bieber maybe hasn’t been what he was during his 2020 Cy Young season, but he’s been incredibly consistent. His xERA is at 3.45, he’s got an incredibly low 1.99 BB/9 rate, and opposing hitters only have a .290 xwOBA against him.
Bieber has done a great job mixing his pitches this season rather than becoming too reliant on his fastball, like he did early in his career. He has a four-pitch arsenal of fastball, slider, curveball and cutter. That should work well against the Mariners’ lineup that has a -19.8 run value and .234 xBA against those four pitches.
Logan Gilbert is a negative regression candidate with an ERA at 3.52 but an xERA of 4.26. The thing about Gilbert is when hitters make contact against him, they are crushing the ball. He’s allowing a 46.8% hard hit rate and an average exit velocity of 91.2 mph. Both of those are in the bottom 4% among MLB starting pitchers.
He is pretty reliant on getting swings and misses with all four his pitches having over a 20% whiff rate. The Guardians have the lowest K% against right-handed pitching and also have lowest whiff rate in baseball.
I have Bieber and the Guardians projected at -160, so I like the value on them for the first five innings at -122 (BetRivers) and would play it up to -138.
Pick: Guardians First Five Innings (-122)