MLB Odds, Picks, Previews & Predictions: Our Expert’s Breakdown of Friday’s Entire Slate (July 22)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Logan Webb
Coming out of the All-Star break, there are some fascinating races for Wild Card spots and the two Central divisions. This Friday features crucial games between the Red Sox & Blue Jays, Padres & Mets, Guardians & White Sox, and Giants & Dodgers.
Cardinals vs. Reds, 6:40 p.m. ET
Adam Wainwright vs. Graham Ashcraft
The starting pitching matchup is fairly even in this one. Adam Wainwright has been pitching well into his 40s with his xERA sitting at 4.24, while Graham Ashcraft is actually due for some positive regression with his xERA sitting at 3.83.
The problem with backing the Reds in this matchup is the Cardinals are going to have massive advantages in the bullpen and on defense. The Reds are dead last in baseball in terms of a bullpen xFIP at 4.57 and also have the highest BB/9 rate (4.45) and HR/9 rate (1.45). On top of that, the Cardinals defensively are at +35 DRS, while the Reds are -30.
I have St. Louis projected at -126 and the total at 10.38, so there’s not much value for me here.
Cubs vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET
Justin Steele vs. Kyle Gibson
Justin Steele is one of the more underrated starting pitchers in MLB. On paper, his ERA sits at 4.15, but his expected ERA is over a half-run lower at 3.56. He doesn’t allow a ton of hard contact (33.5% Hard-Hit Rate allowed), opposing hitters only have 2.9% Barrel Rate against him, and he’s only allowing a .296 xwOBA. He mainly utilizes a fastball/slider combination, which will work tremendously against a Phillies lineup that is 13th against fastballs and 15th against sliders.
Justin Steele, Filthy Breaking Balls…and Pitching with 🔥 pic.twitter.com/g8e5JOsRjM
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 5, 2021
Kyle Gibson has been very average this season with an xERA at 4.25. His last two starts before the All-Star break were strong, but in his previous six starts before those two, he allowed a whopping 23 earned runs.
The big problem is his main pitch, a sinker, is getting hit pretty hard to the tune of a .354 xwOBA and .284 xBA. The Cubs are one the best teams in baseball against sinkers with already a +25.9 Run Value on the season. Chicago is also in the top half of baseball in terms of wOBA and wRC+ against right-handed pitching.
I have the Cubs as -117 favorites full game and -138 for the first five innings, so I love the value on them at +114 for the full game and +110 for the first five innings (FanDuel). I would also play the full game line at anything plus-money and first five down to -110.
Pick: Cubs First Five Innings (+110) | Cubs Full Game (+114)
Marlins vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET
Braxton Garrett vs. Zach Thompson
Not much value anywhere for me here. Marlins are going to be without their best hitter Jazz Chisholm for six weeks, otherwise I might be interested in Over 8.5 runs with these two pitchers on the mound.
Both Braxton Garrett and Zach Thompson are projected as a little above 4.50 ERA type starters and neither has lit the world on fire in 2022.
I have the Marlins projected at -113 with a total of 8.74, so unless something gets steamed, this is a pass for me.
Yankees vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET
Jameson Taillon vs. Tyler Wells
The Orioles‘ win streak may have ended before the All-Star break, but Baltimore is still riding high and coming home to take on the American League leading Yankees in a matchup that is a lot closer than most will realize.
The Orioles will have ace Tyler Wells on the mound who has posted a 3.41 xERA, 87.7 Average Exit Velocity allowed and 30.2% Sweet Spot % allowed, all of which are among the best marks in the American League. He’s faced the Yankees three times already this season and has only allowed four earned runs in 14 innings pitched.
Tyler Wells, Nasty 87mph Changeup. 😨 pic.twitter.com/vipMDfM5YQ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 16, 2022
Jameson Taillon has been what I would describe as “solid” this season. In over 100 innings pitched, his BB/9 rate is at 1.08, opposing hitters only have a 35.9% Hard-Hit Rate against him, but his xERA is at 3.96. Even though he’s not walking anybody or allowing a lot of hard contact, hitters are still getting on base against him because his xBA allowed is at .267, which is in the bottom 20% of MLB starting pitchers.
The bullpen matchup really doesn’t favor the Yankees too drastically either, as Baltimore is right behind the Yankees in terms of xFIP (3.60 NYY vs. 3.74 BAL).
I only have the Yankees projected as a -102 favorite, so I like the value on the Orioles at +140 (FanDuel) and would play this down to +118.
Pick: Orioles +140
Blue Jays vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET
Kevin Gausman vs. Nathan Eovaldi
Kevin Gausman may not have made the All-Star team for some unexplainable reason, but he’s been one of the best pitchers in the American League over the first half of the season. His 2.84 xFIP is the fourth-best mark among qualified starting pitchers, and he’s so difficult to go up against because of his famous split-finger. Gausman’s splitter has only yielded a .167 xBA, .192 xwOBA, and is producing a 46.3% Whiff Rate, per Baseball Savant.
Kevin Gausman, Disgusting 85mph Splitter. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/DxocL64nwD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 28, 2022
Nathan Eovaldi is a big time negative regression candidate heading into the second half of the season. He’s currently sitting with a 3.34 ERA, but his xERA is all the way up at 4.31. He also faces a Blue Jays lineup that has been obliterating fastballs (+20.7 Run Value), which is a pitch Eovaldi goes to over 40% of the time.
I have Gausman and the Blue Jays projected at -146 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at -127 (BetRivers), but I would only play it up to -130.
Pick: Blue Jays First Five Innings (-127)
Padres vs. Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET
Yu Darvish vs. Max Scherzer
There’s a heavyweight pitching matchup at Citi Field tonight as Max Scherzer is making his fourth start since coming off the IL. In his previous three starts, he racked up a ton of strikeouts by tallying a whopping 31 in 19 and a third innings. Scherzer mainly utilizes a fastball, slider, and changeup, which is good news because the Padres have a -7.5 Run Value against those three pitches.
Yu Darvish has been really solid this season, posting a 3.85 xERA and a very low 1.83 BB/9 rate. He already faced the Mets in early June while going seven shutout innings, so we’ll see if he can repeat that tonight.
I have the Mets projected at -156 and the total projected at 7.19, so there’s not much value for me anywhere in this game.
Angels vs. Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Shohei Ohtani vs. Charlie Morton
Shohei Ohtani has been unbelievable on the mound this season. His 2.52 xERA over 87 innings is one of the best marks in all of baseball. The problem is he’s facing potentially the best lineup in all of baseball. The Braves have a .328 wOBA as a team, which is third in MLB, have the second-lowest K%, and are the best fastball-hitting team.
Charlie Morton has taken a step back this season, as his xERA has floated up to 4.16, which is the first time it’s been above four since the 2016 season. His biggest problem is hitters are squaring it up against him. His Hard-Hit Rate allowed is over 40%, his Barrel Rate allowed is at 9.2%, and his Sweet Spot % allowed is at 40.2% – all of those are career highs.
I have 8.53 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Over 7 runs at -120 on DraftKings.
Pick: Over 7 Runs (-120)
Rays vs. Royals, 8:10 p.m. ET
Drew Rasmussen vs. Brad Keller
Drew Rasmussen is a big time negative regression candidate. His ERA is currently sitting at 3.22, but his xERA is up at 4.13. He’s allowing a ton of hard contact (over 40% Hard-Hit Rate allowed), and opposing hitters have a .255 xBA against him. The Royals, for all of their flaws, are in the top half of baseball in terms of wRC+ over the last 30 days.
Brad Keller has improved a lot of his metrics from last season, but his xFIP is still over four. He’s also facing a Rays lineup that has been hitting ball well over the past month (122 wRC+ per fangraphs).
The Royals bullpen is also one of the worst in MLB, as they have the second worst xFIP & BB/9 rate.
I have 9.89 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Over 9 runs at +100 (DraftKings) and would play it up to -110.
Pick: Over 9 Runs (+100)
Guardians vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET
Cal Quantrill vs. Lucas Giolito
With these two starting pitchers on the mound, my guess is we are going to see quite a few runs.
Cal Quantrill’s xERA is sitting at 4.52, and his xFIP is at 4.65. Opposing hitters have a .265 xBA, he has one of the lowest K/9 Rates in baseball at 5.63, and he’s faced the White Sox twice this year giving up a combined 17 hits and eight runs in 12 and a third innings.
It’s been a tough season for Lucas Giolito, who has a 4.49 xERA and a HR/9 Rate that has ballooned up to 1.63. The main problem is that his fastball, which he throws over 46% of the time, is getting lit up, allowing a .356 xwOBA and .269 xBA. Giolito is also allowing one of the highest Max Exit Velocities in baseball at 117 mph. The Guardians, with the lowest K% in baseball at 18.4%, are a tough lineup to face for a strikeout pitcher like Giolito.
I have 9.24 runs projected for the full game and 5.29 for the first five innings, so I am going to double up on Over 8.5 runs at -105 (DraftKings) and Over 4.5 runs for the first five innings at -125 (DraftKings).
Pick: Over 8.5 Runs (-105) | First Five Innings Over 4.5 Runs (-125)
Rockies vs. Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET
Antonio Senzatela vs. Corbin Burnes
This is more of a bet against Antonio Senzatela without having to pay the high price on Burnes and the Brewers moneyline.
Senzatela has once again been an utter disaster for the Rockies, as he has a whopping 5.92 xERA in 60 innings pitched this season. He is allowing the highest xBA in MLB at .328 and is bottom 5% in xwOBA allowed as well. He’s a heavy fastball pitcher, which doesn’t work against the Brewers lineup that has a +11.4 Run Value against them this season. The Brewers over the past 30 days also have the fifth-best wOBA in baseball.
But even though Burnes has been very dominant this season, the Rockies lineup has been no slouch, especially as of late, as they have the eighth-best wOBA over the past 30 days. Colorado also does have a +2.1 Run Value against cutters, which is a pitch Burnes goes to over 50% of the time.
I have 8.88 runs projected for this game, so I love the value on Over 7.5 runs at +100 (DraftKings) and would play it up to -125.
Pick: Over 7.5 Runs (+100)
Nationals vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET
Patrick Corbin vs. Zac Gallen
Patrick Corbin leads qualified starting pitchers for the worst xERA in baseball at 5.66. As you can see, he’s near the bottom of baseball in a lot of important metrics.
(image via Baseball Savant)
Zac Gallen, on the other hand, is once again one of the more underrated pitchers in MLB. He’s has a 3.83 xERA, a 34.6% Hard-Hit Rate allowed, and only a .222 xBA against him. The problem in this matchup is Gallen is a heavy fastball pitcher, and that is the one pitch that the Nationals have had success against this season (+11.7 Run Value).
I have 10.04 runs projected for this game, so I see tons of value on Over 8.5 runs at -105 (Caesars)
Pick: Over 8.5 Runs (-105)
Rangers vs. Athletics, 9:40 p.m. ET
Spencer Howard vs. Cole Irvin
Spencer Howard has been pretty bad so far this season (6.41 xERA), but his struggles have come over a small sample size of 20 and two-thirds innings. Looking at fangraphs‘ projections, they have him projected closer to a 4.75-ERA caliber of pitcher after aggregating all of the different projection models. Facing the worst lineup in MLB will make a big difference for Howard, as the A’s are are dead last in both wOBA & wRC+.
Cole Irvin has also been pretty bad for Oakland. The lefty has a 4.70 xERA, .477 xSLG percentage allowed, and a 42.1% Hard-Hit Rate allowed. He has a four-pitch arsenal of fastball, changeup, slider and sinker, which the Astros have a +0.9 Run Value against the left-handed version of those four pitches.
I have the Rangers projected at -135, so I like the value on Texas at -113 (BetRivers) and would play it up to -120.
Pick: Rangers Moneyline (-113)
Astros vs. Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET
Jose Urquidy vs. Marco Gonzales
Will the Mariners‘ 14-game win streak finally come to an end tonight, or will the hottest team in baseball keep it going after All-Star break?
Marco Gonzales is once against drastically overperfoming his expected metrics. Sure, on paper he has a 3.50 ERA, but he actually has the second-worst xFIP among qualified starting pitchers at 4.93, behind only his teammate Chris Flexen. Gonzales mainly throws a fastball/changeup combination, which is a problem against the Astros, who have a combined +40 Run Value against those pitches this season.
So facing one of the best lineups in baseball will likely see some of that negative regression come to fruition.
Jose Urquidy hasn’t been much better than Gonzales, as his xFIP is up at 4.64. However, Urquidy’s biggest problem is he’s allowing a ton of hard contact (43.2% Hard-Hit Rate allowed) and home runs (1.64 HR/9 Rate). The Mariners are in the bottom half of baseball in Hard-Hit %, and we will be playing in a pitcher’s park in Seattle tonight.
I have the Astros projected at -146 for the first five innings, so I like the value on them at -118 (BetRivers).
Pick: Astros First Five Innings (-118)
Giants vs. Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET
Logan Webb vs. Tyler Anderson
There’s a very interesting matchup on the mound tonight in LA.
Logan Webb’s expected metrics are elite by any means (3.49 xERA & 3.27 xFIP), but a lot of his bad starts came in the early part of the season:
(graphic via fangraphs)
As you can see, he has improved across the board as we’ve gotten into July. His slider has by far been his best pitch, and it’s the one he goes to most often. It’s only allowing a .191 xBA, .245 xwOBA and is producing a 31.3% Whiff Rate. That is good news because sliders are the pitch the Dodgers have struggled the most against this season.
Logan Webb, Filthy Sinkers and Slider. 😷 pic.twitter.com/ce8qOPbx9K
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 8, 2022
Tyler Anderson has suddenly found something in LA because his xERA currently sits at 3.10. That’s the first time it’s been below four since 2018. However, ZIPS’ rest of season projections still have him projected at a 4.41 ERA, indicating that he’s overperformed to this point in the season.
Anderson mainly uses a three-pitch arsenal of fastball, cutter, and slider, which is bad news against the Giants because they have a +7.5 combined Run Value against the left-handed version of those three pitches.
I only have the Dodgers projected at -103, so I like the value on Webb and the Giants at +125 (PointsBet) and would play it down to +120.
Pick: Giants +125