MLB Odds, Picks, Previews & Predictions: Our Expert’s Breakdown of Friday’s Entire Slate, Featuring Orioles vs. Rays & Brewers vs. Giants (July 15)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Woodruff (Brewers)
- We've entered the final weekend of the first half of the season, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups on tap.
- MLB analyst B.J. Cunningham has a breakdown of Friday's entire slate and gives out some of his favorite bets from the card.
- Continue reading for his full analysis, picks and projections from tonight's MLB slate.
As the All-Star break approaches there are still some crucial games on the MLB slate on Friday headlined by the beginning of another series of the best rivalry in baseball between the Red Sox and Yankees in the Bronx.
Mets vs. Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET
Taijuan Walker vs. Marcus Stroman
The Cubs are going to be providing a lot of value over the second half of the season, especially when they have Marcus Stroman on the mound. Stroman has some interesting metrics, as his xERA is at 4.52, his xFIP is at 3.39, and the only reason he’s somewhat struggling is because his HR/9 rate is up at 1.40. It’s actually the first time in his career that it’s over 1.00. The problem is the wind is blowing out over 12 mph to left field this afternoon at Wrigley.
Taijuan Walker has been really good this season posting an xERA of 3.67 and the biggest improvement he’s made between seasons is he’s getting way more ground balls (50% GB rate in 2022 vs. 41.9% in 2021) and he’s lowered his HR-FB rate by almost 10%. The problem is he’s facing a Cubs lineup that has a +30.3 run value against his three main pitches of fastball, splitter, and slider.
The bullpen matchup, surprisingly, is actually pretty even:
- Mets: 3.57 xFIP, 10.32 K/9 rate, 3.42 BB/9 rate, and 76.5% LOB%
- Cubs: 3.67 xFIP, 10.13 K/9 rate, 3.55 BB/9 rate, and 70.1% LOB%
There is also rain in the forecast, so make sure to bet the pitchers as listed to avoid any rain-delay changes. For me, this one is a pass, as I have the Mets projected at -110.
Phillies vs. Marlins, 6:40 p.m. ET
Kyle Gibson vs. Sandy Alcantara
This is a big mismatch in terms of starting pitchers. Sandy Alcantara has been one of the best pitchers in the National League, as his expected metrics are off the charts: 2.58 xERA, 3.40 xFIP, & .268 xwOBA.
He has a four-pitch arsenal of changeup, fastball, slider and sinker, but his changeup has by far been his most dominant pitch. It’s only allowing a .183 xBA, .208 xwOBA and has produced a 36.0% whiff rate, per Baseball Savant.
The Phillies are still without Bryce Harper in their lineup and have a -5,7 combined run value against those four pitches.
Sandy Alcántara, Nasty 92mph Changeup. 👌
Has retired the last 20 hitters in a row. pic.twitter.com/ueZyZQbIpI
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 17, 2022
Kyle Gibson has been very average this season with an xERA just above 4.00. His last start against St. Louis was the first time in 11 starts that he did not give up an earned run, but in his previous three starts he allowed a combined 14 earned runs.
The main problem is his main pitch, which is a sinker, is getting shelled to the tune of a .373 xwOBA and .294 xBA. The Marlins do have a positive run value versus sinkers and are 12th in terms of wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
I have the Marlins projected at -215 for the first five innings, so I like the value on the current line of -162 (FanDuel) and would bet it up to -183.
Pick: Marlins First Five Innings -162
Red Sox vs. Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Jordan Montgomery
Nathan Eovaldi makes his return to the starting rotation after being out for a little more than a month. When he was in the starting rotation, his xFIP was all the way down at 3.10. There is just one problem: he’s given up 16 home runs in 12 starts and the game is being played in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball.
With that being said, the current line of -180 is too high for Eovaldi versus Jordan Montgomery. The Red Sox just faced Montgomery on July 9th, getting five hits and two runs off him in a little over five innings.
Montgomery also is only sitting with a 4.11 xERA, the Red Sox are top five in terms of wOBA & wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and the only pitch the Red Sox have a negative run value against are sliders, which Montgomery doesn’t throw.
No. Doubt. About. It. 🧨 pic.twitter.com/xnYGcyeV8h
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 10, 2022
I have the Red Sox projected at +123 for the full game and +104 for the first five innings, so I absolutely love the value on them at +152 for the full game (FanDuel) and at +155 for the first five innings (BetMGM)
Pick: Red Sox First Five Innings +155 & Full Game +152
Braves vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
Ian Anderson vs. Patrick Corbin
You wanna talk ugly bets? Because this one is gross. Patrick Corbin has been really bad this season, posting a 5.78 xERA, but his xFIP is only at 4.14, and his last four starts his xFIP has been below 4.50.
Now, he did just give up four runs and eight hits to the Braves six days ago, so this is isn’t the best of matchups facing a lineup that has seemingly no weaknesses.
Ian Anderson, though, has not been very dominant. In fact, his metrics show that he’s been a very average starting pitcher. He has a 4.11 xERA, 4.27 xFIP, and his BB/9 rate is at 4.36. The Nationals‘ lineup got him for two runs and produced four walks when they faced Anderson on July 10th.
In terms of a projection, the Braves are overvalued with Anderson on the mound. I have the Nationals projected at +150 and our very own Sean Zerillo has them projected at +152.
So, I’ll take the Nationals at +180 (FanDuel) and would bet them down to +172.
Pick: Nationals +180
Royals vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET
Zack Greinke vs. Alek Manoah
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) July 15, 2022
However, the starting pitching matchup is a massive mismatch and I have the Blue Jays projected at -255. So unless the Royals get to +300 or above, this one is a pass for me.
Pick: Pass; unless Royals get to +300 or better.
Tigers vs. Guardians, 7:10 p.m. ET
Drew Hutchison vs. Zach Plesac
Holy moly, this is a terrible starting pitching matchup, but you would know it on the surface. Both starting pitchers have around a 4.00 ERA, but both Hutchison and Plesac have over a 5.50 xERA.
Hutchison and Plesac also are in the bottom 10% in terms of xwOBA and xBA allowed, so this is a good spot to bet on some negative regression for both pitchers.
I have 9.08 runs projected for the full game and 5.53 for the first five innings. So there is value on Over 8.5 runs at +100 (DraftKings) or better for the full game and Over 4.5 runs for the first five innings at -110 (DraftKings), which I would bet up to -125 or Over 5 runs at -110 or better.
Pick: Over 8.5 runs (+100) & First Five Innings Over 4.5 runs (-110)
Orioles vs. Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET
Tyler Wells vs. Luis Patino
Is anybody going to stop the Balitmore Orioles? They are winners of 10 straight games and are over .500 for the first time since 2017.
Now they are sending their best starting pitcher to the mound for a divisional matchup that is very meaningful considering the Orioles now only trail the Rays by four games in the division.
Tyler Wells has very gracefully made the transition from the bullpen to full-time starting pitcher. His 3.39 xERA, 87.6 average exit velocity allowed and 29.4% sweet spot % allowed are some of the best marks in the American League. He’s a heavy fastball/slider pitcher, which is fantastic news against the Rays, who have a -20.1 run value against those two pitches.
The Rays are going with Luis Patino, who is coming off the 60-day IL, so he will only be going 1-2 innings, meaning it’s a bullpen game for Tampa Bay.
Kevin Cash said Luis Patino will pitch tomorrow, 1-2 innings.
— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) July 14, 2022
I don’t have any projected value on this game with the Rays at -130 and the total at 7.82, so this one is a pass for me.
Mariners vs. Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET
Robbie Ray vs. Matt Bush
Can the Mariners make it an astonishing 12 wins in a row?!
It’s been a pretty decent first season in Seattle for Robbie Ray. His xERA is at 3.41, his K/9 rate is over 10, and opposing hitters only have a .226 xBA against him. With that being said, he’s facing a Texas lineup that is top five in terms of wOBA and wRC+ against left handed pitching. Additionally, Robbie Ray basically only throws fastballs and sliders, which is bad news against the Rangers who have a +10.6 run value against the left handed version of those two pitches, per Baseball Savant.
The Rangers are going with Matt Bush as an opener, who is likely only going to pitch one innings, so it will be a bullpen game for the Rangers. Texas does have a decent bullpen ranking in the top half of MLB in ERA and LOB%. Also the Mariners overall for the season are 15th in wOBA.
I only have the Mariners projected as a -103 favorite, so I love the value on the Rangers at +140 and would play it down to +118.
Pick: Rangers +140
Athletics vs. Astros, 8:10 p.m. ET
Cole Irvin vs. Jake Odorizzi
I do project a little value on the over, as I have 8.96 runs projected. That mainly has to do with how bad Cole Irvin has been for Oakland. The lefty has a 5.15 xERA, .548 xSLG percentage allowed, .367 xwOBA allowed and a 41.8% hard hit rate allowed. He has a four-pitch arsenal of fastball, changeup, slider and sinker, which the Astros have a +3.8 run value against the left-handed version of those four pitches.
Jake Odorizzi hasn’t lit the world on fire this season with an xFIP at 4.67, but he did just face Oakland, throwing seven frames of shutout ball, which is keeping me away from this game.
White Sox vs. Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET
Michael Kopech vs. Devin Smeltzer
Michael Kopech has been decent in first full season as a starting pitcher, as his xERA is at 3.95, but he’s having issues with his control,. as his BB/9 rate is at 4.46.
The problem in this matchup is he’s a heavy fastball pitcher (63.2% of the time per Baseball Savant), which is a pitch the Twins lineup destroys. Minnesota is the fourth best fastball hitting team in baseball with a +36.3 run value on the season and are top in wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
BUXTON MURDERS THIS PITCH FOR THE WALKOFF! pic.twitter.com/C6QGMlqQJq
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) April 24, 2022
Devin Smeltzer is a big-time negative regression candidate, as his ERA is sitting at 3.92, but his xERA is at 4.67. He also is facing the best lineup in baseball against left-handed pitching. The White Sox are currently at a .348 wOBA and 129 wRC+ against lefties, which is insanely good.
I have the Twins projected at -116 and the total at 8.97, so there isn’t much value on this game for me.
Reds vs. Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET
Hunter Greene vs. Andre Pallante
The Reds are coming off a series win versus the Yankees and are handing the ball off to their flamethrower, Hunter Greene. He is definitely showing improvement, but the problem in this matchup is he’s a heavy fastball pitcher and the Cardinals have a +18.4 run value against fastballs.
Andre Pallante has been half-way decent since joining the starting rotation, putting up a 4.03 xERA. Cincinnati is below average against righties with 86 wRC+ on the season, along with having a negative run value against fastballs, which is a pitch Pallante goes to 56.2% of the time.
I have the Cardinals projected at -152, as they have massive edges defensively and in the bullpen, so this one is a pass for me.
Pirates vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET
Jose Quintana vs. German Marquez
Should the Pirates be this significant underdogs to German Marquez? Yes, Colorado is the second best team in baseball against left-handed pitching in terms of wOBA, but Jose Quintana has been halfway decent this season, putting up a 3.75 xFIP.
His biggest problem for the longest time was giving up way too many home runs. Well, this season he’s lowered his HR/9 rate to 0.74 and his HR/FB ratio to 5.5%, which are both his lowest marks since 2014. That is definitely crucial when pitching in the altitude.
Marquez, on the other hand, has been giving up way too many home runs, as his HR/9 rate is more than double that of Quintana at 1.67. He also has an xERA close to five, so the starting pitching matchup definitely favors the Pirates.
The Pirates’ bullpen also has a better xFIP, LOB%, and K/BB ratio than the Rockies.
I have the Pirates projected at +100 for the full game and -104 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at +124 for the full game (FanDuel) and for the first five innings at +123 (BetRivers). I also would bet both to +115.
Pick: Pirates First Five Innings +123 & Full Game +124
Dodgers vs. Angels, 9:40 p.m. ET
Clayton Kershaw vs. Patrick Sandoval
This line is a tad too high for the Dodgers, especially with Patrick Sandoval on the mound for the Angels. Sandoval has been pretty good, as his xFIP is at 3.73, his K/9 rate is at 9.90, and his hard hit rate allowed is only at 34%.
His fastball is getting lit up, but he goes to it less than 25% of the time and his two main offspeed pitches of slider and changeup have both been really good, allowing an xwOBA under .300.
Patrick Sandoval, K'ing the Side (and a Sword) ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/S46iFsUK6z
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 9, 2022
The Dodgers’ lineup isn’t elite against left-handed pitching, as they’re 12th in terms of wOBA.
Clayton Kershaw has been elite in 11 starts posting a 2.39 xERA, but -210 on the road against a decent lineup is far too high.
I have the Angels projected at +153, Sean Zerillo has them projected at +165, so I like the value on the Angels at +180 (FanDuel) and would play it down to +175.
Pick: Angels +180
Diamondbacks vs. Padres, 9:40 p.m. ET
Madison Bumgarner vs. Yu Darvish
Madison Bumgarner has been very below average this season with his xERA rising up to 4.84. He’s allowing a hard hit rate of 44.8%, a .276 xBA and a .357 xwOBA. His fastball and cutter are getting pounded with both allowing an xSLG percentage over .500 (which is really bad). He also faced the Padres twice in late June, giving up a combined 13 hits and seven runs in nine innings.
Yu Darvish, on the other hand has been fine, but nowhere near elite. He is not striking out batters like we are used to seeing, as his K/9 rate is below 10.00 for the first time in his career. He’s also allowing the highest xBA and xSLG of his career as well.
I have 8.11 runs projected for this game, so I like the small edge on Over 7.5 runs at +100 or better (DraftKings).
Pick: Over 7.5 (+100)
Brewers vs. Giants, 9:40 p.m. ET
Brandon Woodruff vs. Alex Wood
Brandon Woodruff is once again putting up elite numbers. His xERA is at 3.00, his K/9 rate is all the way up at 11.87, and opposing hitters have only managed a .283 xwOBA against him. His changeup and his slider have been ridiculously good: both have a whiff rate over 47% and he’s allowed 13 combined hits on those two pitches, which he’s thrown over 300 times this season.
Brandon Woodruff, Pretty 87mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/6IgqpgxHk5
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 26, 2022
The Giants are really struggling versus both changeups and sliders (-10.7 run value), so Woodruff should be able to dominate with those two pitches.
Alex Wood is due for some positive regression, as his ERA is at 4.43 and his xERA is at 3.64, but with that being said, he’s nowhere near Woodruff’s numbers.
I have the Brewers projected at -147 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at -124 (BetRivers) and would play it up to -130.
Pick: Brewers First Five Innings -124