MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions for Friday: 3 Bets, Including Phillies vs. Mets, Braves vs. Giants & More (Sept. 17)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson.
- Three games with postseason implications highlight our Friday night best bets.
- From coast to coast, with a stop in Texas, our team of MLB analysts have you covered.
- Check out their three picks for Friday night's full slate of games.
Division and wild-card races are heating up, and we have a trio of games for our Friday night best bets that include contenders from both leagues.
The National League East is especially intriguing at this point. The Braves are by no means a convincing division leader, but they face a tough test in San Francisco while the Phillies and Mets face off on the other coast. Meanwhile, the White Sox are in Arlington to face the Rangers as they look to seal the American League Central.
MLB Odds & Picks
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Phillies vs. Mets
Kenny Ducey: There are few teams Zack Wheeler enjoys facing more than his former club.
In seven career starts against the Mets, he holds a 2.72 ERA with a 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, punching out 44 over 49 2/3 innings pitched. He also has very solid individual numbers against the vast majority of the Mets’ big bats, with the exception of Pete Alonso.
Wheeler also enters this start beginning to feel like himself again. With the pressure of winning the Cy Young off his shoulders, the lefty has allowed just one run in his last two outings, spanning 12 1/3 innings, and has given up 10 hits against 17 strikeouts. He’s beginning to be a trustworthy pitcher to back again.
While the Mets have been stronger at the plate over the last couple of weeks, the Phillies have also begun to find their rhythm, torching an in-form Kyle Hendricks on Thursday night and turning a seven-run loss into a nine-run win with a massive comeback.
Those bats should be coming for Taijuan Walker, who seems to be dealing either with an injury or perhaps just some progressive fatigue, allowing 11 earned runs in his last two starts with five homers and four walks. Philly wins this pitching matchup by a comfortable margin, and the game.
White Sox vs. Rangers
DJ James: Everyone knows the Chicago White Sox can hit left-handed pitching.
Well, after Thursday’s brutal performance against the Los Angeles Angels, they get to see one in Taylor Hearn of the Texas Rangers. Hearn is a hard-throwing lefty, who features his four-seam fastball almost 50% of the time. He has pretty neutral peripherals and overall has had a solid season. This should be one of his worst appearances this year.
Again, Hearn is not a soft-tosser, whom the Sox usually have the ability to hit hard, but he does not throw 100 mph. His average fastball is right around 95 mph, and on four-seamers between 94-96 mph, the White Sox hold a .467 xwOBA since August 1.
Chicago hits the heater with an average exit velocity of 91.8 mph, as well. There is a high likelihood Gavin Sheets or Brian Goodwin will not see the field against him, as they both have negative wRC+ on the season against southpaws. Look for Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yasmani Grandal, and José Abreu to hit well in this matchup.
There is not much value baked into the moneyline for the South Siders, so the best route to go is taking the first five total with the White Sox. The number sits at 2.5 (-115), so take this to 3 (-120). With much of the lineup rested on Thursday afternoon, the lineup should be almost at full strength.
Braves vs. Giants
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Sean Zerillo: I bet on the Giants — and Logan Webb — pretty consistently throughout the first few months of the 2021 season.
It took the betting markets longer than I expected to catch up to San Francisco’s overall quality, and I viewed Webb, who is the Giants’ only homegrown starter, as the most underrated pitcher in their rotation.
Interestingly, Webb’s four-seam fastball spin dropped off the table once MLB started cracking down on foreign substances in late June.
Through his first nine starts of the season, Webb had the following pitch mix: 45.7% fastball, 28.6% changeup, 23.9% slider, and 1.8% cutter, with roughly a 60/40 split between his sinker and four-seam fastball usage. He carried a 17.9% K-BB%, alongside a 3.05 xFIP through the end of June.
In 13 starts since early July, Webb has pitched to a 2.12 ERA, a 2.73 xFIP, and a 21.2% K-BB%, while raising the percentage of sliders (to 30.6%) and sinkers (up from about 25% to more than 50%).
If anything, the foreign substance crackdown appears to have helped Webb to optimize his pitch mix, and he has never been better. He scrapped his four-seam fastball usage, and his ground-ball rate has soared, from 56.2% career to 63.1% since changing his pitch mix.
Still, the betting markets started to overrate Webb at some point, and I found myself betting against him more consistently. I try not to fall in love with pitchers, even those who make me money. I let my model projections dictate the spots where I wager.
Ian Anderson (4.35 xERA, 3.94 xFIP, 4.40 SIERA) has underwhelmed this season after a dominant 2020 debut. Still, I project actionable value on Atlanta’s moneyline tonight (projected 44.4% or +125 implied), and I would play their moneyline down to +136 (42.4% implied) at a two percent edge compared to my model projection.