MLB Odds Today | Expert Picks, Predictions for Rays vs. Red Sox, Yankees vs. Dodgers, More (Friday, June 2)

MLB Odds Today | Expert Picks, Predictions for Rays vs. Red Sox, Yankees vs. Dodgers, More (Friday, June 2) article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees.

The 15-game Friday MLB slate begins at 5:10 p.m. ET on AppleTV+ as Corbin Burnes and Milwaukee take on the surging Reds in Cincinnati. There's multiple key divisional matchups that begin on Friday, including Tampa Bay's trip to Boston with Tyler Glasnow on the mound, Shohei Ohtani vs. Framber Valdez as the Angels take on Houston and surging Seattle in Texas for a three-game weekend series.

Perhaps no matchup is more enticing than the two biggest teams in the biggest markets facing off in a rare interleague matchup. Luis Severino is finally healthy again for the Yankees and he'll pitch at Dodger Stadium against Clayton Kershaw. Chris Bassitt also makes his return to New York with Toronto to take on the Mets.

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Here are my best bets for the Friday MLB slate:

7:05 p.m. ET | Jack Flaherty vs. Roansy Contreras

Pittsburgh opened as a +130 moneyline underdog and has taken significant money in the first game of this three-game series in the middle of a jam-packed NL Central.

The Pirates don't seem to have a ton of faith in Roansy Contreras right now though, after they opted to move him to the bullpen at the beginning of last week to keep Luis Ortiz in the rotation. Only when the rotation suffered another injury did Pittsburgh move him back into the starting rotation again. It's a sign that Pittsburgh has some concerns themselves about Contreras, and it's warranted when you look at his pitch modeling data.

Contreras has seen a decline in his fastball velocity this season and as a result, the Stuff+ on the pitch has declined this year too (88 Stuff+ on his fastball). When you consider that pitch was above average last season, you have to worsen your ERA projection for the young right-hander. Some projection systems have him as low as 4.21 ERA, but I'm more in line with The BAT projection of 4.97 for him.

While Contreras is trending down, Jack Flaherty appears to be trending in the right direction in three key metrics. His fastball velocity is up in the last few starts and the strikeouts have followed closely behind. Throw in improved command and he's a significantly improved pitcher from the early season version that couldn't get anyone out and kept consistent traffic on the bases.

Pick: Cardinals ML (-140 or better at BetMGM)

7:10 p.m. ET | Tyler Glasnow vs. Garrett Whitlock

The spin rates were down considerably for Garrett Whitlock and the strikeouts have all but disappeared from his profile this season too. His 6.43 K/9 isn't going to play against a Rays lineup that is the best in the league against right-handed pitching. The Rays can also throw a few extra lefties in their lineup to cause split issues for the Red Sox starter.

While Whitlock enters this matchup with some concerns about him as a pitcher overall, any worries about how Tyler Glasnow would return from his injury should be set to rest. Glasnow has a 136 Stuff+ on his fastball, a 144 Stuff+ on his curveball and his locations have graded out well thus far, even if the sample is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions from. His fastball velocity was down a tick from normal — 96.8 vs 97.3 in 2021 — but the movement on the pitch and the whiffs generated in his 4.1 innings were as good as ever.

I am all systems go on Glasnow's return and the market is still too high on Whitlock in my view. This game is much closer to even once we get to the bullpens, especially given Tampa's poor strikeout rates there, and I like the Rays in the first five innings at -140 or better.

Pick: Rays F5 ML (-140 or better)

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9:40 p.m. ET | Jameson Taillon vs. Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha is the exact kind of profile I like to bet against consistently. He's shown excellent location and command numbers this season, but the Stuff+ metrics suggest he won't continue to produce a 31% hard hit rate or get away with mediocre underlying strikeout and whiff rates. Wacha's HR/FB rate this year is half of his career average despite the increased homers across the league. His ground ball rate is down considerably and his fastball grades out as one of the worst amongst all MLB starters.

The consensus projection for Wacha is around a 4.25 ERA by most of the non-The BAT projection systems. I'm skeptical he's truly a league average pitcher at this point in his career and once more homers creep into his profile, we'll see the regression in his ERA numbers.

Wacha's change-up is the only pitch that grades out as above average by Stuff+, and the Cubs lineup features a ton of righty bats that limit its effectiveness.

From a situational and travel perspective, it's actually an advantage for the Cubs too. Chicago had off on Thursday, while the Padres played a road game in Miami and had to travel west on Thursday night after their game.

10:10 p.m. ET | Luis Severino vs. Clayton Kershaw

It's easy to forget about him because he's been injured for large parts of the last two seasons, but Luis Severino has posted elite underlying numbers consistently for the last year. His fastball Stuff+ is over 110 and his velocity in his first two starts back is the best he's had since 2019. His xERA was 2.94 prior to injury last season and he combined that with excellent strikeout rates near 30%.

The Yankees are also getting a huge boost to their lineup on Friday with the expected return of both Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson. Both have traditionally been a lot better against southpaws than righties. They can load up the lineup with seven right-handed bats to make life much more difficult for Kershaw.

Outside of home field advantage, there's no other edge for the Dodgers here. The starting pitcher and bullpen are both better for the Yankees and I'd bet them at +110 or better.

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