MLB Odds, Picks & Preview: Expert Breakdown of Friday’s Slate, Including Rays vs. Orioles & Angels vs. Mariners (June 17)

MLB Odds, Picks & Preview: Expert Breakdown of Friday’s Slate, Including Rays vs. Orioles & Angels vs. Mariners (June 17) article feature image

Katelyn Mulcahy/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Trout

  • We have a robust MLB slate on Friday with 16 games, including a doubleheader between the Phillies and Nationals.
  • MLB expert B.J. Cunningham has his eyes on four games in particular from Friday's evening affairs.
  • Continue reading for Cunningham's full analysis and betting picks for those four games, as well as projections from the entire slate.

We are nearing the mid-way point of the MLB season and have a very intriguing Friday night slate featuring highly anticipated series between the Yankees vs Blue Jays and Cardinals vs. Red Sox.

Be sure to check out our MLB odds page for up-to-the-minute odds changes across multiple sportsbooks, and our projections page helps you find the best value across the board.

Follow all of B.J. Cunningham's bets in the Action Network app! Click here.

Here are five key spots I'm targeting to bet across Friday's slate.

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B.J. Cunningham's MLB Projections for Friday, June 17

Full Game

First Five Innings

Rays vs. Orioles, 6:05 p.m. ET

Shane Baz vs. Dean Kremer

Although he's only made one start this year, Shane Baz is one of the most exciting young pitchers in baseball. FanGraphs has him projected at a 3.75 ERA mainly due to that fact that he's posted an ERA below two over the past two years in Triple-A.

He's mainly a fastball/slider pitcher, which is good news against the Orioles because they are second-to-last against fastballs with a -30.2 run value.

Shane Baz, K'ing the Side. 😷

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 26, 2021

Dean Kremer has pretty horrendous in his short time in MLB. He has a 5.54 xFIP in 19 starts. He's mainly a fastball pitcher going to it over 50% of the time, but he's been incredibly fortunate with it this year, as he's only allowing a .156 wOBA, but his xwOBA allowed is at .306 wOBA.

So given the drastic gap in the starting pitching matchup of almost two runs according to xFIP, I love Baz and the Rays at -140 (BetMGM) and would play it up to -150.

Pick: Rays First Five Innings -140

White Sox vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m. ET 

Lucas Giolito vs. Framber Valdez

This line is a tad high for Lucas Giolito. Yes, he hasn't been that great through 10 starts this season, posting a 4.65 xERA, but his xFIP is sitting at 3.28 and his K/9 rate is over 11. Houston's offense is good against fastballs, putting up a +17 run value this season, which is bad news for Giolito, who goes to his fastball 48.6% of the time, per Baseball Savant.

Framber Valdez has been great, but he's due for a little bit of negative regression. His ERA is sitting at 2.64, but his xERA is at 3.08 and his xFIP is at 3.38. Valdez is a heavy sinkerball pitcher, going to it over 50% of the time, and it has been very average this year, allowing a .285 xBA and .334 xwOBA.

The White Sox do have a +1.5 run value against sinkers and also a +13.1 run value against Valdez's two main off-speed pitches of curveball and changeup, per FanGraphs.

The Astros also have one of the most overrated bullpens in baseball. They have a 2.66 ERA, but their xFIP is almost a run and a half higher at 3.99. In fact, the White Sox's bullpen has a better xFIP than the Astros.

Since I only have Houston projected at -131, I like the value of +160 on the White Sox and would play it down to +145.

Pick: White Sox +160

Padres vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET 

MacKenzie Gore vs. Kyle Freeland 

MacKenzie Gore has been outstanding since making the jump to MLB. Through nine starts, he has a 3.31 xERA, 10.73 K/9 rate and most importantly playing in Coors Field, he's only allowed one home run in a little over 50 innings.

He's a fastball-heavy pitcher, going to it 63.6% of the time, and he's been very effective with it, allowing a .231 xBA and .305 xwOBA. That's important considering the Rockies have a -8.8 run value against fastballs.

MacKenzie Gore, 97mph Paint. 🖌️🎨

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 20, 2022

Kyle Freeland has been very below average this season, posting a 4.78 xERA. The main reason for that is he's allowing a ton of hard contact. His hard hit rate is sitting a 43.5%, which up 8% from last season.

Now he has to face the Padres lineup that is at 110 wRC+ for the season and are the fourth-best team in baseball against sliders at a +9.2 run value, which is bad news considering that is Freeland's most frequent pitch.

Since I have the Padres projected at -160 for the first five innings, I like the value on them at -145 (DraftKings), but I wouldn't play it any higher than that.

Pick: Padres First Five Innings -145

Angels vs. Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET 

Michael Lorenzen vs. Robbie Ray

Michael Lorenzen has made the transition from the bullpen to full-time starter seamlessly. Through 10 starts, he has a 3.47 xERA and has lowered his BB/9 rate almost a full run. He's been incredibly effective with his sinker and fastball, as both are allowing an xwOBA under .260, which is huge against the Mariners, who are one of the best fastball and sinker hitting team in baseball with a +29.5 run value against both pitches.

Robbie Ray has somewhat regressed off his 2021 Cy Young. His xFIP is up over half a run, his HR/9 rate is up and his BB/9 rate is up. The main problem is he's struggling with is fastball, which is allowing an xwOBA of .363. He's been good with his slider, but the Angels are the second-best offense against sliders at a +12.5 run value.

Since I have this game projected right at +100 both ways, I like the value on the Angels +120 and would play it down to +115.

Pick: Angels +120

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