Betting Odds, Preview, Predictions for Friday’s MLB Games: 5 Best Bets, Including White Sox vs. Yankees, Dodgers vs. Giants & More (May 21)
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Bauer
- Cubs-Cardinals. Dodgers-Giants. White Sox-Yankees. It's a busy weekend in Major League Baseball.
- That weekend gets going tonight with these key series getting started.
- Our analysts have five best bets from the slate, which you can read below.
A busy weekend in Major League Baseball gets started with a full Friday night. Fifteen games are on the slate and all of them have evening start times. We have a couple of historic rivalries getting started — such as Cubs-Cardinals and Dodgers-Giants — as well as a battle of American League heavyweights in White Sox-Yankees.
With so much to choose from, our analysts have found a bunch of action to recommend. Five betting picks, including a total, team total, two moneyline underdogs and one moneyline favorite. Below, you will find our staff’s five best bets from Friday’s MLB slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees
Kenny Ducey: The Yankees’ offense has slipped into the abyss once again, sitting in the middle of the pack over the past two weeks, but Friday night is where it could pick up again. New York has the 11th-best wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, and should be up to the task against Carlos Rodón.
Yes, Rodón has been lights-out so far this season, but the Kansas City Royals of all teams proved last week that the lefty is still hittable. He allowed four runs on eight hits in a loss at home, and will now pitch in a bandbox this weekend. Furthermore, the man is still relatively the same as in years’ past, walking 8.3% of batters and allowing hard contact at a 37.5% clip.
The only change with Rodón has been his elite 33.8% strikeout rate, which has allowed him to pitch his way out of jams. The Yankees are walking at the second-highest clip in baseball, and they’ve been really great at limiting strikeouts for the past couple of seasons, considering they have two whiff machines in the middle of their order. I think this is a great matchup.
On the other side, we don’t have to dive too deeply into the White Sox, because just about everyone knows that this lineup is the hottest in baseball at the moment. They’ve been particularly great against left-handers so far this year with a league-leading 142 wRC+, and Jordan Montgomery should be in for a real test. I’m generally higher on him than most, but I think even Clayton Kershaw would concede a few runs against this team if he faced them tonight. The total should be higher here.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds
Matt Trebby: The Brewers’ offense is healthy but still scuffling. Christian Yelich is back (no pun intended), but his first two games in the lineup yielded just four runs in two losses against the Royals.
I’m willing to bet on Jeff Hoffman being what the doctor ordered for the Milwaukee lineup.
The Brewers are likely to have at least five, probably six, left-handed bats in the lineup for the series opener in Cincinnati, most of whom are trying to find their way in 2021. Plenty of them have much better track records than their production this season.
It also helps that Great American Ball Park is a dream for left-handed hitters. Yelich has thrived there since joining the Brewers, as well as hitting for the cycle during his MVP season in 2018.
Milwaukee’s team total is 4.5, and the Brew Crew did score four on Wednesday in Kansas City. There were signs of breaking out, and I expect Hoffman — who has a 4.67 ERA and 4.72 xFIP this season, both of which would be the best of his below-average career — to bring those out even more.
Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels
Jeff Hicks: The Los Angeles Angels had issues winning games with Mike Trout, and losing him for up to two months puts the Angels in that much worse of a position. It also gets worse with Oakland in town. The Athletics have the second best wRC+ against left-handed pitching on the road. This comes up because José Quintana is on the bump for L.A.
The good news for Quintana is his ERA is 50% better at home. The bad news is his home ERA is 6.19. Quintana is also a liability against right-handed hitters. His home slash line against righties is .304/.411/.391, an improvement from his road splits.
For the Angels to have a chance to win, they have to continue to hit the ball in the air. A’s starter James Kaprielian has a 71.4% flyball rate and the Angels have the fourth-best HR/FB ratio against righties.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Brad Cunningham: Trevor Bauer has been awesome for the Dodgers and his numbers are just as good as they were last season. He’s got a 2.25 xERA and a K/9 rate of 12.09. His fastball and slider have been fantastic, allowing a wOBA under .200 on both pitches and have racked up a combined 50 strikeouts already this season. The Giants are the third-worst team in baseball against sliders, so I expect Bauer to go to that often tonight.
His opponent, Alex Wood, has been fantastic, posting a 2.74 xERA and 2.89 xFIP, but here’s a list of the opponents he’s faced this season: Marlins, Rockies, Rangers and Pirates. What do all those offenses have in common? They’re in the bottom 10 of MLB in wOBA. This will by far be the best lineup he’s faced as the Dodgers are third in MLB with a .331 wOBA.
Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres
Sean Zerillo: Chris Paddack started his MLB career with aplomb — pitching to a 3.33 ERA and a 3.35 expected ERA (or xERA) through his first 26 starts at the big league level in 2019.
However, the league has adjusted to Paddack, and “The Sheriff” has yet to push back. Since the beginning of last season — a sample of 19 starts — Paddack has pitched to a 4.63 ERA and 4.49 FIP. His xERA sat at 5.17 in 2020, but has improved to 4.10 this year. Paddack’s SIERA over the past three seasons is in decline: 3.83, 3.91, and now 4.16 since his debut.
Paddack has consistently relied upon a fastball/changeup combination more than 90% of the time (91.3% combined usage this season), and he has yet to develop an average third pitch to keep hitters in check.
Surprisingly, Paddack’s career splits are relatively neural (.299 wOBA vs. LHH; .289 wOBA vs. RHH) because changeups are typically much more effective against opposite-handed hitting.
Moreover, Paddack has not given the Padres any length this season, failing to complete five innings in four of his seven starts while averaging fewer than 4.5 completed innings per start.
Mariners starter Chris Flexen has returned as a revamped pitcher after a 2020 stint in the KBO. He’s now throwing his four-seam fastball about 30% less frequently than he did with the Mets (down from 61.7% in 2019 to 34.1% in 2021). Instead, Flexen is throwing all of his secondary pitches more frequently, increasing his rate of sliders (+9.3% over 2019), curveballs (+12.8% over 2019), and changeups (+5.4% over 2019).
Flexen’s curveball and slider have both returned positive pitch values this season. At the same time, his fastball continues to rate as a below-average offering. However, the revamped repertoire appears to be a net positive. Flexen has pitched to a 3.46 ERA, 4.27 xERA, 4.52 xFIP, and 4.71 SIERA this season, with each figure representing a career-best mark.
I projected the Mariners at 39.3% for the first five innings (F5) and 38.9% for the whole game on Friday night. I would bet those lines down to +171 and +175, respectively, with either bet representing a 2.5% edge.