Friday MLB Odds & Picks: Our 7 Best Bets Including Mariners vs. Red Sox, Marlins vs. Giants & More (April 23)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Buster Posey.
- Friday's MLB slate is a loaded one, and our staff came ready with their best bets for it.
- Our writers broke down seven games on tonight's slate, including A's-Orioles, Red Sox-Mariners, Royals-Tigers, and Marlins-Giants.
- Check out each individual pick complete with odds and full breakdowns below.
The weekend is here. That means we can watch and bet on as much baseball as we want for the next 48 hours.
Check out each individual pick complete with odds and a full breakdown below.
MLB Odds & Picks
Oakland A’s vs. Baltimore Orioles
Matt Trebby: The A’s, who have won 11 straight games, at -130 against probably the worst lineup in MLB is an absolute steal.
Cole Irvin isn’t going to wow anyone since he is the No. 5 starter in this Oakland rotation, but he’s coming off six scoreless innings his last time out and is starting opposite Jorge López. I have more faith in the player who has actually shown that he can pitch well this season, and that’s Irvin.
Baltimore is 8-10 because of solid pitching and its ability to win some close games, but everything on paper gives the A’s an edge here. They’ve been the best team in baseball over the past week and a half, and the Orioles are the perfect opponent to keep their winning streak alive.
Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox
Sean Zerillo: The Seattle Mariners (12-7) are tied atop the AL West with the reigning champion Oakland Athletics — who have ripped off 11 consecutive wins after starting their 2021 campaign with six straight losses -— more than 10% of the way through the MLB regular season.
The Mariners’ pitching has been fortunate to date (second-luckiest in terms of expected vs. actual wOBA). Still, they also haven’t gotten much from Yusei Kikuchi (4.74 ERA, 3.92 xFIP, 5.13 xERA), who many expected to take a step forward this season. The lefty’s 2020 indicators (3.37 xERA, 3.78 xFIP, 4.34 SIERA) belied some ugly results (2-4, 5.79 ERA), and he’s now 8-15 with a 5.34 ERA for his career.
While I don’t put any stock into those base statistics, it’s important to note them — because many fans and bettors may start to write Kikuchi off.
There are still positive signs in his profile — the fastball gains from last year (+2.5 mph from 2019 to 2020) remain, and his secondary mix (cutter/slider/splitter) is still producing above-average returns.
Kikuchi is also throwing strike one more frequently (67.1% vs. 50.5% in 2020, 58.1% career) and getting more called strikes overall (20%, +5% over 2020).
I still think that he can be a highly effective starter living at the velocity level he has shown over his past 12 starts, dating back to the start of last season.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Mike Ianniello: If you read these best bets every day, you have probably noticed first five unders are my favorite bets to make. It is a perfect little sprint where you sweat the entire time but then can relax and enjoy the rest of the game worry-free, hopefully with some extra money in your pocket.
For Friday’s slate I love the first five under between the Blue Jays and Rays with Steven Matz and Tyler Glasnow facing off as the starting pitchers.
Matz is off to a terrific start in his first year with Toronto, starting 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 26.5 K%. All would be career bests. Matz has an elite sinker that he throws 48.3% of pitches and is allowing just a .128 batting average against it. The lefty has given up just one run in each of his three starts this season and has allowed one barrel contact all season.
Somehow, Matz won’t be the best pitcher in this game as he will oppose Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow has made four starts this season, allowing just two total runs in 24 2/3 innings for a 0.73 ERA. He has the best WAR among any pitcher in the league this season and a career-high 40.0 K%.
Glasnow had already turned into one of the best pitchers in baseball with his 97 mile per hour fastball that currently has the best run value for any pitch in baseball. But he went ahead and added a slider to his bag this offseason. So far, he has thrown his new weapon 111 times this season, allowing just three hits.
The Rays have been decent at the plate this year, but the Blue Jays have been inconsistent, especially on the road. With two elite starting pitchers on the mound, I will back the arms to keep this total under 3.5 (+104) through the first five innings and would play it down to -110.
Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers
Kenny Ducey: I’ve been rather bullish on the Tigers dating back to March, but even the strongest believer in this offense has to admit two things. First off, Detroit has coming crashing back down to Earth a bit in general at the plate. Second, this team is absolutely awful against lefties.
The Tigers rank dead last in baseball with a 41 wRC+ against southpaws and will face one in Mike Minor on Friday.
Minor hasn’t exactly been the model of consistency, but he’s ranked in the 71st percentile this year in average exit velocity allowed, and generally speaking, has had a good hold on current members of the Tigers, who have a lifetime .202 xBA against him (in the Statcast era).
On the other side, I am still a believer in young Casey Mize, and this Royals offense, though it’s been hot, isn’t the tallest task for a right-hander. The former No. 1 pick has done a pretty decent job this season when you consider he’s had to face the Twins, A’s and Astros.
This will represent his easiest matchup yet, and given his ability to limit walks and his plus fastball, he should do enough to help us stay under this total. I’ll take the first five to avoid this bad, bad Tigers bullpen.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Atlanta Braves
Tanner McGrath: The Diamondbacks have mostly exceeded expectations. Their offense is averaging 4.78 runs per game, which ranks seventh in MLB, and they’ve now won seven of their last 10 games.
However, the Diamondbacks are on a long road trip and just had to use seven different relievers in a wildly high-scoring game against Cincinnati. Plus, in the three games before that, Arizona’s relievers pitched a total of 12 1/3 innings.
Basically, I think the Diamondbacks will have a serious fatigue factor heading into this series. Yes, they’ve won four straight and scored 32 runs in the process, but their bullpen has been ravaged, and this will be their eighth straight road game. I think they’re due for a letdown spot, and this recent success could also mean they’re overvalued.
However, I’m not just fading the Diamondbacks, I’m also backing a Braves team that posted a .352 wOBA on their five-game road trip and hits much better at home. The Braves have posted an .843 OPS and a 123 wRC+ at home this season, compared to a .667 OPS and an 85 wRC+ on the road.
Moreover, the Braves have won two of their last three games and only had to use their relievers for a total of eight innings in the process. They’re coming home after a series split in the Bronx and had a day off yesterday. Atlanta’s roster should be fresh.
Plus, I think their starting pitcher, Huascar Ynoa, matches up well with the Diamondbacks. Ynoa combines a triple-digit fastball with a nasty slider that has serious vertical movement. Hitters have posted just a .231 wOBA on his slider this season, and Ynoa has a 40.8% whiff rate on the pitch. Meanwhile, Arizona’s -8.9 weighted slider runs created is 27th in baseball.
Arizona’s starter, Luke Weaver, is a serviceable starting pitcher. But I don’t think his performance will be enough to overcome all the other factors.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies
Brad Cunningham: Vince Velasquez may be trending downward over the past few seasons, but he wasn’t that bad in 2020.
He posted a 4.33 xERA and 4.07 xFIP, which are both right around the MLB average. He was pretty effective with his curveball and slider, holding opposing hitters under a wOBA on both pitches.
The Rockies lineup has also been one of the worst in MLB so far in 2021. Colorado has accumulated only a .295 wOBA and 70 wRC+, which are both in the bottom-five of MLB. It has also really struggled versus both curveballs and sliders in 2020, ranking in the bottom-10 of MLB against both of those pitches, so I expect Velasquez to throw a heavy dose of both of those pitches, especially since the game is at Coors Field.
German Marquez has been the Rockies’ front-end ace for a few years now, but he really hasn’t been that effective. His fastball got shelled last season to the tune of a .405 wOBA. His secondary pitches were really good, but the problem is that he’s unable to use his fastball to set them up.
The Phillies destroyed both fastballs and right-handed pitching in 2020, ranking seventh against fastballs and eighth in wOBA against right-handed pitching, so I think they should be able to get Marquez.
Miami Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants
Kevin Davis: At face value, the Miami Marlins are a good bet against the San Francisco Giants. Both teams should end up winning around 75-78 games this season, and the Marlins are relying on Sandy Alcantara on Friday night.
However, the Giants are a slightly better team, and Alcantara is not as good of a pitcher as he appears to be on paper.
The Miami lineup is averaging 4.11 runs per game, while the San Francisco lineup averages only 3.63 runs per game. However, over the course of a long season, my model projects the Giants to average 4.14 runs per game, while the Marlins will average only 3.86.
In addition to the Giants’ lineup, the other reason to bet on them is because of the starting pitching matchup.
Over the course of Alcantara’s career, he has a 3.67 ERA but a 4.87 xFIP. Alcantara simply has allowed fewer runs per game than he should have allowed because of good fielding and stadium effects. Against a resurgent Alex Wood of the Giants, Alcantara and the Marlins should lose on Friday night.