6 Best Bets for Friday’s Slate, Including Rangers Steelers vs. Bills Mariners (June 17)

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 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

FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Chicago Cubs

Pick
Over 8.6 (-107)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Keegan Thompson
First Pitch
2:20 pm ET

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 the 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 brings a 6.89 ERA and a 5.63 FIP on the road in 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 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 play should be over. Play to -120.


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Brewers vs. Pirates Cincinnati Reds

Pick
Reds First Five Innings -130
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Hunter Greene
First Pitch
6:40 pm ET

Charlie DiSturco: I’ve definitely sounded like a broken record lately, 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. His last two starts, he gave up just one run on three hits over 12 innings. His walk rate is down, his strikeout rate is at an elite 30 percent and opponents are just a .216 xBA against the right-hander.

Pretty good right? Advanced metrics seem to agree with my belief that Greene has a pitched way better than his 5.10 ERA indicates, too. His xERA is about a run and a half at 3.63, and his xFIP is just south of 4.

The 22-year-old’s issue has been limiting the long ball all season. But he has yet to give up a home run this month and his fastball-slider combo has seen dramatic 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 being shelled by the Nationals for 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 the barrel rate – 11.3 percent – all while opponents have a .260 xBA.

All this being said, I’m looking forward to coming back to 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 the Great American Ballpark.


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New York vs. Seattle Toronto Blue Jays

Pick
Yankees -102
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
West Bromwich Albion vs. Ipswich Town Ross Stripling
First Pitch
7:07 pm ET

Doug Ziefel: The Yankees are red-hot once again as they’ll come into this matchup of the winners of their last 10 games. Now they’ll get to the Blue Jays swingman, Ross Stripling.

Stripling has been solid in any role for Toronto thus far, and he has 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 have picked it up lately.

Stripling peripheral numbers may look solid, but he’s in the bottom 35 percent in barrel rates. His 3.14 ERA is due to rise, and the Yankees are the team to speed that regression.

Lastly, all that offense will be supporting Jordan Montgomery, who will enter with a 2.70 ERA and is in the top 30 percent of all qualified pitchers with average exit velocity, hard-hit, and barrel rate. He will be the potent Blue Jays lineup minimizing the amount of solid contact they can make.

Back to the Yankees this series opener. (Play to -115)


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Rangers vs. Yankees Detroit Tigers

Pick
Tigers First Five Innings -120
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Vs. Jon Gray Tarik Skubal
First Pitch
7:10 pm ET

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 list above 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 much confidence, especially when his BABIP is .295.

The lineups and bullpen situation skews heavily toward 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 about -125.


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White Sox vs. Blue Jays Houston Astros

Pick
White Sox +140
Book
PointsBet
Pitchers
FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Framber Valdez
First Pitch
8:10 pm ET

DJ James: Lucas Giolito has not been his sharpest outing for the Chicago White Sox, and Chicago has not won against the Houston Astros in a regular season game since Houston in 2019. That said, this is a good spot to bet the White Sox.

For one, Giolito will straighten out eventually. This is just a matter of timing. It won’t 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’s room for negative regression, even if he has been good. On the 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 the southpaws, so even if they occasionally hit the ball on the ground, they will still accrue some runs off of Valdez.

Take the White Sox to +125.


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Dodgers vs. Nationals Seattle Mariners

Pick
Angels +112
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
M Lnchengladbach vs. SC Freiburg Robbie Ray
First Pitch
10:10 pm ET

Kenny Ducey: At worst, the Angels are an average offense coming into this one. Their wRC + against the 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 should not expect Robbie Ray to be off the hook by a poor performance by LA In fact, he may be in even greater danger of being 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 had such poor results.

I think this Angels team has a real shot here, and considering the Mariners are 23rd in the barrel rate and 22nd in the WRC + in the last week, they may run into some trouble against the ever-constant Michael Lorenzen.

I’m going to keep buying low on the Angels.


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