The MLB season rolls on with 15 games populating Friday night’s slate, beginning with St. Louis at Pittsburgh at 6:35 p.m. ET.
Our staff has examined each of Friday’s matchups, analyzed the odds, and delivered their top-five picks for tonight’s MLB action. Furthermore, I’m happy to report that not only are those picks discerningly offered, but they also set up a fun card to sweat this evening.
Among our staff’s five best bets, there is one first five-inning line, two moneyline underdogs on the road, and two overs. (I mean, come on: Who doesn’t love betting an over?)
Find breakdowns for each of our staff’s picks in the table below:
MLB Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates||6:35 p.m. ET|
|New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies||7:05 p.m. ET|
|Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays||7:37 p.m. ET|
|Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins||8:10 p.m. ET|
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
|Pick||Pirates F5 -118|
|Pitchers||John Gant vs. JT Brubaker|
|First Pitch||6:35 p.m. ET|
Stuckey: Let’s head over to PNC Park and fade John Gant, who has been one of the most fortunate starters in baseball so far in this young season.
His 2.25 ERA looks super impressive on the surface, but dig a little deeper. An xERA of 5.79 and xFIP of 4.77 suggest looming trouble ahead for a pitcher that is only striking out just over eight batters per 9and walking a worrisome 5.85. Don’t expect his 85% strand rate to persist with those K/BB splits.
The Pirates counter with JT Brubaker, who has impressed me on the bump so far. Yes, he has enjoyed some good fortune as well in regards to strand rate and BABIP, which has contributed to his minuscule 2.01 ERA. However, unlike Gant, his K/BB ratio is much more promising. Furthermore, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the 27-year old righty, who has been filling up the zone in attack mode from the jump this season.
I’d also rather go after this Cardinals lineup with a right-handed pitcher. St. Louis ranks sixth in the league in on-base percentage (OBP) against lefties vs 24th against righties.
Lowest % of pitches thrown in 3 ball counts (min 300 pitches):
1. Yarbrough: 2.7%
2. Bieber: 4.1
3. Boyd: 4.2
4. Urías: 4.3
5. Lynn: 4.3
6. Musgrove: 4.6
7. Bundy: 4.7
8. Nola: 4.8
9. Greinke: 4.9
T-10. deGrom/Brubaker/Woodruff: 5.0
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) April 24, 2021
Gant is the fade target here, so I’m going with Pittsburgh F5 — which means I can also avoid some potential looming Bucco bullpen regression. The Pirates might not raise the Jolly Roger at the end of this one, but hopefully they hold the lead after five innings.
New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies
|Pick||Over 8 (-115)|
|Pitchers||Marcus Stroman vs. Chase Anderson|
|First Pitch||7:05 p.m. ET|
Mike Ianniello: The City of Brotherly Love has been just that for the Phillies. Philadelphia is 8-4 at home this season and 4-9 on the road. The Phillies are hitting .260 with a .758 OPS at Citizens Bank Park vs. a .214 average and .623 OPS on the road.
Marcus Stroman will be on the mound for the Mets, and his overall numbers look good so far — but, he has a couple concerns. Stroman’s Hard-hit Rate is at 47.9%, which would be the highest of his career if the season ended today. His K/9 is also down to 5.55, which would be the lowest in his seven seasons.
Chase Anderson will start for the Phillies, and he doesn’t have many numbers to like. Through a shade over 16 innings of action, he has allowed 12 runs for a 6.48 ERA. He has yet to last more than five innings in any of his appearances, and he has surrendered at least two runs in each of his four starts. Anderson ranks in the bottom 10% in xwOBA and xERA, and ranks in the bottom 15% in xBA and K%.
The way the schedules work out, each of these teams have already faced the opposing pitcher twice. I think that is a huge advantage for the batters — getting to face a guy for the third time in just a month — and it should enable these offenses to go over this total of 8. I would play it up to 8.5 (-115).
Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds
|Pick||Over 9 (-102)|
|Pitchers||Jake Arrieta vs. Wade Miley|
|First Pitch||7:10 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: It pains me to say it, but the Chicago Cubs may finally be figuring some things out at the plate. They rank 10th with a 101 wRC+ over the past week and have been delightfully average at putting the bat on the ball, ranking 16th in contact rate at 74%.
For now, Chicago doesn’t look like a team filled with players competing with each other for the crown of Swinging Strike-Rate Champion.
One thing we do know to be true about Chicago is that it has been able to hit lefties all season, producing a 112 wRC+ within the split to rank 11th in the big leagues. We also can be pretty certain that Wade Miley is average at best, and moreover that he has been the beneficiary of facing some middling lineups this year.
Against a team that can hit lefties, and is hot at the dish, Miley should yield some runs here.
On the other hand, Jake Arrieta has been a blowup waiting to happen — and one of my favorite pitchers to fade all year. His strand rate is an insane 83.3%, up from his career average of 71.9%, and he ranks in the bottom 27% of the league with a 90.6 mph hard-hit rate.
Arrieta’s expected ERA is nearly two full runs higher than his 2.57 ERA, and the Reds — who rank fifth in wRC+ to righties — should be the ones to finally punish Arrieta. There should be plenty of runs scored in this one.
Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays
|Pitchers||Drew Smyly vs. Robbie Ray|
|First Pitch||7:37 p.m. ET|
BJ Cunningham: This is going to be a slugfest, but the Braves have the better matchup against Robbie Ray. Atlanta has been hitting the ball well to start the season with .328 wOBA, which ranks fifth in MLB.
Robbie Ray has struggled ever since he arrived in Toronto, especially last season when he posted a 5.84 xFIP with a 7.84 BB/9 and 2.26 HR/9 rate in over 50 innings pitched. He hasn’t been great through his first three starts, posting a 4.83 xERA and 4.85 xFIP.
Drew Smyly has also struggled this season, but the Blue Jays don’t have that great of a matchup against him. Toronto has struggled against left-handed pitching this season, putting up a .293 wOBA and 90 wRC+.
Given the fact that the starting pitching matchup is basically even and the Braves have a better offense and bullpen than the Blue Jays, I don’t think Toronto should be favored.
I have the Braves projected as -128 favorites, so I think there is value on Atlanta at +116.
Kansas City Royals vs. Minnesota Twins
|Pitchers||Brady Singer vs. Michael Pineda|
|First Pitch||8:10 p.m. ET|
Matt Trebby: If I asked you which team had the best winning percentage in MLB at the moment, the Kansas City Royals wouldn’t be the casual baseball fan’s answer. But here we are, with one day left in April, and Kansas City is thriving atop the American League Central.
Yet, despite one of the Royals’ most reliable arms taking the mound on Friday night in Minnesota, they’re underdogs.
Brady Singer broke out as a reliable starter in 12 starts for Kansas City last season, with his 4.08 FIP indicating that his 4.06 ERA was for real. Through four outings in 2021, his 2.95 ERA is backed by a 2.95 FIP. His walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up. There’s reason to believe the Royals’ 2018 first-round pick is for real.
On the other side, nothing is going right for the Twins. Granted, Michael Pineda has been good, sporting a sterling 2.42 ERA. However, his 3.99 FIP indicates that some regression is due, and an opportunistic lineup like Kansas City’s isn’t a good matchup.
Based on the pitching matchup, this is pretty much a pick’em, but one team has won seven-of-10 and the other just twice. The Royals are also 7-3 on the road, while the Twins have won three-of-10 at Target Field this season.
Getting +115 on the Royals? That’s great value.
Pick: Royals ML +115