The weekend gets off to a hot start on Friday with a solid, 16-game MLB slate. The Braves and Cubs are joined by the first game of a Nationals-Phillies doubleheader this afternoon, but there are 14 more games under the lights.
Our analysts are all over it. Including Braves-Cubs, we’ve got picks on six games, with team totals, first fives, moneylines and more.
Here are our six best bets from Friday’s Major League Baseball slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs
Jules Posner: The Atlanta Braves are in the midst of a 14-game win streak as they head to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Cubs.
Both offenses are well poised to put up some runs as they both come in relatively hot in terms of their recent numbers.
The Braves’ offense is leading MLB in team wRC+ on the road against RHP over the past three weeks. They are taking on Keegan Thompson, who has been good, but is in a prime situation to regress Friday afternoon. Additionally, the Cubs’ bullpen has struggled to keep runs off the board. After getting bombarded by the San Diego Padres all week, the Cubs’ pitching staff is looking very vulnerable.
Speaking of vulnerable, Charlie Morton has struggled to put it together this season and he brings a 6.89 ERA and a 5.63 FIP on the road into this matchup. The Cubs’ offense has posted a 111 wRC+ at home against RHP over the past three weeks, so they should be in a good position to contribute to Friday’s total.
The Braves will have to do the heavy lifting, but 8.5 runs seems like a very achievable total between the two teams. It’s a clear day with light winds expected around game time, so the over should be the play. Play to -120.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds
Charlie DiSturco: I’ve definitely sounded like a broken record recently, but we’re going back to the well on Friday night, or as I like to call it Hunter Greene Day.
Greene has looked like a different pitcher his last two starts and finally seems comfortable on the mound. Over his last two starts, he’s given up just one run on three hits over 12 innings. His walk rate is down, his strikeout rate remains at an elite 30 percent and opponents have just a .216 xBA against the right-hander.
Pretty good right? Advanced metrics seem to agree with my belief that Greene has pitched way better than his 5.10 ERA indicates, too. His xERA is nearly a run and a half lower at 3.63, and his xFIP is just south of 4.
The 22-year-old’s issue all season has been limiting the long ball. But he’s yet to give up a home run this month and his fastball-slider combo has seen drastic improvement over the last few weeks.
In June, opponents have an xBA of just .159 against his heater and .084 against the slider.
Meanwhile, he matches up with Eric Lauer, who after getting shelled by the Nationals his last time out, should continue to struggle in Cincinnati on Friday night.
For starters, his xERA (4.42) sits over a run higher than his actual ERA (3.36), and his hard hit rate is above 40 percent for the first time in his career. He ranks in the bottom 11 percent of pitchers in barrel rate — 11.3 percent — all while opponents have a .260 xBA.
All this being said, I am looking to once again back Hunter Greene and the Reds over the first five innings. I took it last night at -105 and still like it up to -130. I just don’t have enough faith in the Reds bullpen and think Greene holds a significant edge over Lauer on the mound at Great American Ballpark.
New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Doug Ziefel: The Yankees are red-hot once again as they’ll come into this matchup winners of nine of their last 10 games. Now they’ll get to face the Blue Jays swingman, Ross Stripling.
Stripling has been solid in any role for Toronto thus far, and he had success earlier this season when he faced New York.
However, his numbers plummeted in May, and his first two starts in June were against Kansas City and Detroit. The Bronx Bombers are a big step up.
New York is firing on all cylinders at the dish. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Josh Donaldson all have above-average exit velocities and hard-hit rates. Not to mention, Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu picked it up lately.
Stripling peripheral numbers may look solid, but he’s in the bottom 35 percent in barrel rate. His 3.14 ERA is due to rise, and the Yankees are the team to speed up that regression.
Lastly, all that offense will be in support of Jordan Montgomery, who will enter with a 2.70 ERA and is in the top 30 percent of all qualified pitchers in average exit velocity, hard-hit, and barrel rate. He will contain the potent Blue Jays lineup by minimizing the amount of solid contact they can make.
Back the Yankees to take this series opener. (Play to -115)
Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers
Tanner McGrath: Happy Tarik Skubal day!
The list of pitchers who have 2.4 or more fWAR this season:
- Kevin Gausman (3.1)
- Zack Wheeler (2.4)
- Sandy Alcantara (2.4)
- Tarik Skubal (2.4)
End of list.
Skubal has always been an intriguing young southpaw, but he’s beginning to cement himself as one of the game’s better aces. His last two starts have been mediocre, but Skubal is the only guy on the above list who has kept his ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP all below 3.00.
He’ll take on the Texas Rangers and Jon Gray. Gray is due for a lot of positive regression, but his 4.85 ERA and 1.27 WHIP don’t give me much confidence, especially when his BABIP is only .295.
The lineups and bullpen situation skews heavily towards Texas, but the sharp and big money is coming in on Detroit. I also have enough faith in Skubal to bet the Tigers F5 ML up to around -125.
Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros
DJ James: Lucas Giolito has not been his sharpest the last few outings for the Chicago White Sox, and Chicago has not won against the Houston Astros in a regular season game in Houston since 2019. That said, this is a good spot to bet the White Sox.
For one, Giolito will straighten out eventually. It is just a matter of timing. It will not necessarily be an easy start, but considering he has held this lineup in check before (three-hit complete game in Chicago last July), he should be able to go deep into this game if he can limit walks.
Framber Valdez has been dazzling this season. He owns a 3.09 xERA against a 2.64 ERA, though, so there is room for negative regression, even if he has been good. On top of it, the White Sox have scored at least five runs in their last seven games.
They also hammer left-handed pitching. They own a 184 team wRC+ in June off of southpaws, so even if they sometimes tend to hit the ball on the ground, they will still accrue some runs off of Valdez.
Take the White Sox to +125.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners
Kenny Ducey: At worst, the Angels are an average offense coming into this one. Their wRC+ against lefties is sitting at 96 and over the last week against all pitching it’s a surprisingly competent 101. After an awful stretch, these bats have finally woken up.
So, we shouldn’t expect Robbie Ray to be let off the hook by a poor performance by LA In fact, he may be in even more danger considering the Halos’ superb 9.1% barrel rate in the last seven days. Ray is still lacking in the barrel and hard-hit departments, ranking in the bottom 33% of the league in the former and the bottom 42% in the latter.
Ray has always given up a ton of missiles, but in 2021 he was able to cushion the blow with one of the best strikeout rates in the league. That has sunk from 32.1% to 25.1% so far this season, which is why he’s had such poor results.
I think this Angels team has a real shot here, and considering the Mariners are 23rd in barrel rate and 22nd in wRC+ in the last week, they may run into some trouble against the ever-sturdy Michael Lorenzen.
I’m going to keep buying low on the Angels.