MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Nationals vs Diamondbacks, Astros vs Mariners on Friday, May 5

MLB Underdog Picks Today | Odds, Predictions for Nationals vs Diamondbacks, Astros vs Mariners on Friday, May 5 article feature image
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Friday's MLB slate is loaded and our crew of experts has you covered.

As a reminder, the Payoff Pitch podcast MLB experts break down their favorite picks from the day's slate every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, including each analyst's favorite underdog on the slate, and they've got two more to recommend today.

You can read about their picks below, and be sure to subscribe to Payoff Pitch for MLB picks and predictions all season long.

Nationals vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m.

Josiah Gray vs. Merrill Kelly

Charlie DiSturco: Why not get more ugly after the Cincinnati Reds and go with the Washington Nationals over the first five innings? I’ve been betting Josiah Gray all season long and it’s been working out for me. He’s halved his barrel rate and cut down on his hard hit rate by nearly 10%. It was only a matter of time before Gray really figured it out in the big leagues and I think he’ll continue to do so. His biggest issue is that he has a lack of command sometimes and he’ll walk a lot of batters and that’s a bit concerning against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who love to steal. But his expected batting average has gotten even better this season at almost below .200 and his expected slugging has dropped nearly 100 points.

Gray has been able to get out of jams consistently and has been commanding his arsenal somewhat well and limiting hard contact. He's going against Merrill Kelly, who quite frankly, has been a disaster this season after last year when he was one of our favorite pitchers to back because we’d always get him at plus money. He’s really struggling with his command with a near 15% walk right and his xERA is nearly 2.5 runs higher than his actual ERA. His barrel rate is still fine, but you look at his numbers and there’s a lot of concerns: His expected batting average is near .270, his expected slugging is jumping up to his 2021 numbers when he struggled a lot to limit hard contact. He’s throwing his changeup more and his fastball less – maybe it has something to do with how he was in the World Baseball Classic and the quick turnaround and he’s just struggled to really adjust. The fastball was his money pitch last year and now he’s shying away from it a little bit and his velocity has decreased a couple ticks.

I don’t want to get into it with the Nationals' bullpen. We saw them blow the lead to Chicago last night before winning on a walk-off home run. I’m just going to go with the better pitcher here: Gray over Kelly. I think Arizona has a slight edge as an offense, but at +145 I make this closer to like +120, so I’m going to take them.


Astros vs. Mariners, 10:10 p.m.

Cristian Javier vs. Luis Castillo

Anthony Dabbundo: I like Houston +120 on the road at Seattle. Luis Castillo has been dominant: the strikeout rate is up, the walk rate is down. I’m a little concerned it’s fool’s gold right now. Castillo has notoriously been a slow starter because his velocity doesn’t quite get there until June or July, and right now his velocity is down. He was sitting 97 last season and with his fastball he’s sitting 95 now, and that’s a big difference and it’s a noticeable difference. The whiff rates are actually down on the fastball as other pitchers are doing better. I think Castillo is a little bit of a limited pitcher. You’re playing a premium here because of the improved results.

But Cristian Javier, a pitcher that Charlie and I have bet on plenty this season – it feels like almost every start — has a little bit of a home run problem, but where’s the power in the Seattle lineup? Right now we’ve seen Julio Rodriguez’s chase rate is way up, his whiff rate continues to be sitting around where it was last year, so his pitch selection is worse and his contact quality is worse. I don’t know if he’s injured or if it’s that sophomore slump you see when pitchers adjust, but his decline from this lineup, Teoscar Hernandez’s strikeout rate is way up, and there’s a lot of red flags in this Mariners’ lineup. It’s pretty much been Jarred Kelenic carrying them and the rest of the team has been very mediocre.

And as much as I’ve just shit on the Seattle lineup, Houston is actually worse. They have the fourth fewest barrels in major league baseball. The Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions. So that is a little bit concerning too for Houston, who does project better against lefties as well.

I think this is close to a coin flip game. Their lineup still projects considerably better than Seattle’s even though they haven't hit like it thus far this season.


Payoff Pitch Underdog Picks for Friday, May 5

  • Nationals Moneyline
  • Astros Moneyline

At FanDuel, this parlay would pay out at +448 at the time of this writing.

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