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MLB Predictions Today | Odds, Picks, Expert Projections for Friday, April 21

MLB Predictions Today | Odds, Picks, Expert Projections for Friday, April 21 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Brown, Yusei Kikuchi and Cedric Mullins

Welcome to Opening Pitch, my column that you’ll find daily throughout the 2023 MLB season.

My goal for Opening Pitch is to highlight my top daily projection edges for MLB moneylines and totals, share my favorite bets and provide some betting notes and analysis, mainly as I react to opening and overnight lines while using my baseball betting model.

I will look to release a new version of Opening Pitch daily between midnight and 3 a.m. ET; after I enter my overnight bets in the Action Network App and update the MLB projections. Hopefully, you will use it as your morning betting guide to get ahead of the baseball markets.

You can find my projections for every MLB game in the Action App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you can bookmark).

You can also shop for the best lines on our odds page.

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Expert Picks for Friday, April 21

Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles

Michael Lorenzen vs. Tyler Wells
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

While this article is designed to help you find line value overnight — or in the early morning on the day of games — throughout the season, we will have many short slates on Mondays and Thursdays where we can bet some Friday lines well in advance.

The most significant edge we bet around noon on Thursday was the Oriolesmoneyline, which opened at -140. DraftKings moved the line to -150 after I bet it, and within minutes of entering the wager in the Action App, the line was up to my price target (-165), a four percent adjustment in implied probability.

All that is to say, if you want actionable prices when I bet them, follow me in the Action Network App. The written content will follow well after some of these bets are placed and prices are out of range.

And while I am sorry that many of you won’t be able to tail Baltimore’s moneyline anywhere near the same edge, you can play Baltimore’s F5 (first five innings) moneyline up to -172 (straight) or include that line as a parlay piece up to -180.

Baltimore should get the better of the splits on both ends of this matchup, projecting as a far superior team against righties than lefties, while the Tigers project as one of the worst teams in the league against righties (coming off of a historically bad season).

Tyler Wells is also consistently underrated at open in the betting markets. Wells has been a model favorite since his debut, and it’s not uncommon to see betting lines steam 20 cents in his direction. Wells, Kyle Bradish, and Grayson Rodriguez are the start of an exciting rotation to complement Baltimore’s young position player core.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees

Yusei Kikuchi vs. Domingo German
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

The three scariest words that I can type into this column are either Yusei Kikuchi moneyline or Yusei Kikuchi under. We are betting on the latter for Friday, with winds blowing in from right field at Yankee Stadium.

To borrow a term from another sport I handicap, MMA, Kikuchi is a glass cannon. He is a tremendous offensive pitcher. Kikuchi attacks hitters with spicy stuff (95 mph from the left side with a lot of movement on his splitter and slider) and, at his best, looks unhittable. But he has struggled with both command (9.2% walk rate) and the long ball (1.76 HR/9). When things go south, Kikuchi tends to implode.

Domingo German is similarly enigmatic, carrying an alarming career rate of 1.6 HR/9, which might become further amplified by juiced baseballs during the summer months. Still, German has pitched exceptionally well to begin 2023.

After adjusting for the wind and weather, I set Friday’s total at 8.2; bet the Under to 8.5 at -102.

Miami Marlins vs. Cleveland Guardians

(Editor’s Note: This game has been postponed)
Braxton Garrett vs. Zach Plesac
First Pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET

Based on a wind and weather adjustment, we’re firing at another Under in Cleveland. I set the total for this matchup at 7.49 and would bet Under 8 to -110.

Friday’s weather at Progressive Field also triggered the following Action Labs system, which has generated an 8.7% ROI since 2005:

While the Guardians have improved against lefties relative to last season, righties are still their superior offensive split. The Marlins have finished as a bottom-10 team in OPS each season dating back to 2018 and should rank as a bottom five unit again in 2023.

Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves

Hunter Brown vs. Bryce Elder
First Pitch: 7:20 p.m. ET

I project Brown as a vastly superior pitcher to Elder, projecting the Astros‘ righty on the borderline of the No. 2 and No. 3 starters, while I have Elder an entire run worse on a season-long ERA; as a low-end No. 4 or solid No. 5 pitcher.

Elder is a soft-tossing righty (88.9 mph fastball) with decent secondary stuff. Brown has elite velocity (96.1 mph) and four above-average offerings.

Projection systems view Brown as the better pitcher by roughly half a run. I see the gap as a bit wider currently, in addition to factoring in Brown’s vast long-term potential as a perennial Cy Young contender.

While Houston’s lineup is a bit depleted without Jose Altuve or Michael Brantley, I give the Astros slight advantages both in the bullpen and on defense, in addition to starting pitcher.

I projected the Astros around -120 for the first five innings and -110 for the full game; I bet Houston’s lines to -110 (F5) and +100 (game), respectively.

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels

Taylor Clarke vs. Shohei Ohtani
First Pitch: 9:38 p.m. ET

Ohtani-mania is starting to reach a point where we may have to bet against him in every start. The lines are becoming over-inflated.

I project Ohtani as a top-three starting pitcher in the American League but would bet the Royals‘ moneyline down to +236, at a two percent edge compared to my number (projected +215).

However, I bet the game small to start. As the game time comes — and people tie Ohtani into parlays — I expect this line to rise and would prefer to wait for peak price to grab the Royals. As a result, increase your bet size as the line crosses +250.

The difference between the best and worst starting pitchers (in terms of a projected ERA) can be as much as 2 or 2.5 runs (in this game, it’s around 2). However, the difference between the best and worst bullpens is substantially smaller.

If the Royals can keep this game tied or close as the bullpens take over, our juicy plus-money ticket will have a shot.

San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Seth Lugo vs. Zac Gallen
First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET

The Padres‘ offense looks extremely formidable with Fernando Tatis Jr. back in the lineup. The top four, with Tatis, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts is as fearsome of a foursome as I can remember in my lifetime and easily over a billion dollars worth of players.

While Zac Gallen is one of the better pitchers in the National League, I have found him slightly overrated since his sublime string of starts last summer. The Padres have been a tough matchup for Gallen, too: current Padres’ hitters own a .908 OPS against Gallen in 115 plate appearances (8 doubles, 8 HR, 13 BB, 20 K).

I’m uncertain how long Seth Lugo can survive as a starting pitcher, throwing a four-seamer, sinker or curveball nearly 90% of the time. Lugo is 33-years-old, and never developed a third pitch; still, he has been slightly better against lefties than righties for his career.

The roof will be open at Chase Field on Friday, with temperatures in the 80s and the wind blowing out toward the swimming pool.

I projected the totals at 5.06 (F5) and 9.51 (full game); bet the Overs up to 4.5 (-125) and 9 (-110), respectively. I will use the F5 Over as a parlay piece with the next game on the board.

New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants

Joey Lucchesi vs. Anthony Desclafani
First Pitch: 10:15 p.m. ET

Lucchesi and his churve will return to a big league mound for the first time since 2021 as he returns from Tommy John surgery. He pitched well in a couple of Triple-A rehab starts before the callup.

Despite his ongoing recovery, Lucchesi doesn’t project much worse than his career marks (4.24 ERA, 3.99 xFIP). He has always fared much better against lefties (3.27 xFIP) than righties (4.18), but the Giants can stack eight right-handed or switch-hitting bats against him, including a trio of former Mets — Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf, and J.D. Davis — in the thick of the mix.

Anthony DeSclafani, aka Tony Disco, has pitched well in three easy assignments this year (3.2 xERA), and I have upgraded his rating a touch.

Still, even after upgrading DeSclafani — and realizing that I am higher on Lucchesi than I had planned — I show value on the Overs in this matchup.

I projected the totals at 5.1 (F5) and 9.3 (full game); bet Over 9 at any plus money price, and you can add F5 Over 4.5 to -125 (or use it in a parlay).

Zerillo’s Bets for Friday, April 21

For additional bet notifications, follow me in the Action Network App. 

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+100, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -102)
  • ArizonaDiamondbacks / San Diego Padres, Over 8.5 (-115, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to 9, -110)
  • Baltimore Orioles (-140, 1u) at DraftKings (Bet to -164; reduce risk above -157)
  • Boston Red Sox / Milwaukee Brewers, Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -110)
  • Cleveland Guardians (-125, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -126)
  • Cleveland Guardians / Miami Marlins, Under 8.5 (-118, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 8, -110)
  • Houston Astros F5 (+100, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to -110)
  • Houston Astros (+105, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to +100)
  • Houston Astros / Atlanta Braves, F5 Over 4.5 (-115, Flat Risk 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to -120)
  • Kansas City Royals (+245, 0.25u) at WynnBet (be to +240)
  • New YorkYankees / Toronto Blue Jays, Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at WynnBet (bet to 8.5, -102)
  • New York Mets / San Francisco Giants, Over 8.5 (-115, 0.5u) at FanDuel (bet to 9, +100)
  • Parlay (+126, 0.75u) at FanDuel: Baltimore Orioles F5 (-172) / Philadelphia Phillies (-235), bet straight to -172 and -245 or parlay to -180 and -260
  • Parlay (+250 0.5u) at DraftKings: New York Mets/ San Francisco Giants F5 Over 4.5 (-120) & San Diego Padres/ Arizona Diamondbacks F5 Over 4.5 (-110), bet to -130 and -125 respectively
  • Seattle Mariners (-115, 0.5u) at DraftKings (bet to -115)

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