Minnesota Twins Getty Celebrate
Getty Images

Have you ever seen a team fire its manager or coach and get jealous? That happened to me this morning when I saw the news that the Philadelphia Phillies had fired Joe Girardi. It wasn't a decision that came as a surprise, as anybody who had read the tea leaves could see there was a strong possibility.

The Phillies spent a lot of money to compete for the NL East and a World Series, but they've lost 12 of 17 and are 22-29. It's their worst start since 2017, and Girardi paid the price.

And I could only think that I wished it was the manager of my favorite team paying the price. The White Sox were a heavy favorite to win the AL Central this year, but they're 23-26 and five games out of first. Yet, Tony La Russa isn't in any trouble because the team's owner decided he should hire his old friend, even though nobody else thought it was a good idea.

So, I envy you, Phillies fans. I don't know that firing Girardi will fix anything, but at least it provides some catharsis. But have you heard about this Tony La Russa guy? He's one of the greatest managers of all time! He should definitely be on your shortlist of potential replacements!

Now how about we start the weekend with some winners?

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Twins at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Minnesota Twins +200
  • Key Trend: The Twins have won eight of their last 10 games in Toronto.
  • The Pick: Twins (+190)

The Minnesota Twins have hit a bit of a rough patch. They've lost three straight and seven of their last 10, but if there's good news, it's that the rest of the AL Central remains terrible, so it hasn't done much of anything to impact their grip on first place. They remain atop the division, 4.5 games ahead of my depressing White Sox and five games ahead of Cleveland. I believe that this rough patch and tonight's Minnesota pitcher have resulted in too much value on the Twinkies to pass up.

Chi Chi Gonzalez has not pitched in the bigs in 2022, but he's got plenty of MLB experience. It hasn't been great. In 261.2 career innings, the 30-year-old Gonzalez has an ERA of 5.64 and a strikeout rate well below the norm at 13.4%. He's essentially made a career out of filling innings for teams in need, and that's what he's doing for the Twins tonight. But -- BUT!!! -- there's a chance we could see a different player tonight. Gonzalez has performed well in Triple-A this season, with an ERA of 3.44 and a strikeout rate of 23.2%. Those numbers are better than his previous performances in the minors, so maybe the Twins have figured something out with him, and it could lead to better performance.

Jonathan Coachman is joined by Calvin Wetzel, John Bollman and Mike McClure to dish out Friday's best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

Or maybe not. Who knows? That's the beauty of baseball. If it doesn't, we still have a good shot of winning tonight because Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi has not gotten off to a hot start with the Jays. While his ERA might only be 3.48, his walk rate of 13.3% is much higher than the MLB average for starters, as is his hard-hit rate against. While the results haven't been great for the Twins offense against lefties (their .314 wOBA ranks 15th), they rank second in hard-hit rate against southpaws (33.7%) and 11th in strikeout rate (20.71%).

Basically, the Twins are hitting lefties hard, but they haven't had the best luck with where they've hit them. Perhaps we see things begin to correct themselves tonight, and hopefully, Kikuchi has put a few people on base with walks right before they do.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model thinks the Twins are the better value on the money line, but not enough of one to bet. It much prefers taking a side of the total.

💰 The Picks

Mika Zibanejad Getty New York Rangers
Getty Images


Lightning at Rangers, 8 p.m | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: New York Rangers +110

The Pick: Rangers (+110) -- I include trends in this newsletter because people love trends, but many trends are misleading. Some are impressive, but that doesn't mean they mean anything. For instance, you will hear a lot about how the Lightning have won 18 straight playoff games following a loss tonight. It's an impressive stat, but does it mean anything?

The Lightning have won the Stanley Cup each of the last two seasons, and you don't tend to progress further in tournaments in any sport by losing consecutive games. So is the trend a result of the Lightning being a team that cannot be beaten twice in a row, or is it just a byproduct of being a great team the last few years? I think it's more the latter, and I appreciate how it's affected the line in this game. We took the Rangers in Game 1, and they won. I'm taking the Rangers tonight for the same reasons. They shouldn't be this heavy an underdog at home against a team they match up well against. How well? What if I told you the Rangers have won all four games they've played against Tampa this season and have been underdogs in each of the meetings. That's a trend too! And one that is a lot more applicable to this series!

Key Trend: The Rangers have won four straight against Tampa, and have been underdogs in each game.

SportsLine Pick of the Day: Sportsline expert Matt Severance is extremely confident about a play in tonight's Stanley Cup Playoff game between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning.


Giants at Marlins, 6:40 p.m | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Miami Marlins -110

The Pick: Marlins (+135) -- Earlier this week, I nominated the Cincinnati Reds as the bad team that the market is too harsh on, and tonight I nominate the San Francisco Giants as the good team that the market is too high on. I've repeatedly found the Giants to be favored too heavily against teams through the first couple of months, and tonight is another example.

On the surface, it makes sense. While Giants starter Alex Cobb has pitched much better than his 5.73 ERA would have you believe, he's not infallible. He does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground and limiting hard contact. In contrast, Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez has been better than his 5.77 ERA, but not much better. He doesn't get enough strikeouts, but he does limit walks. You just wish he'd get more groundballs, but the rate at which he's given up dingers this season simply isn't sustainable. We should see things begin to normalize soon, and there's a good chance it happens tonight against a Giants offense that has fared far better at home (122 wRC+) than on the road (96 wRC+).

Key Trend: The Marlins have won nine of the last 12 meetings in Miami.

⚾ Friday Night Strikeout Props

Shane Bieber Getty Cleveland Guardians
Getty Images

Let's root for some swings and misses!