We have a nearly full slate of MLB action on Friday night. Twenty-eight teams are scheduled to play, though the Cardinals will be sidelined for a ninth straight day after the team had another positive COVID-19 test. St. Louis was originally set to play the Cubs. Still, there are 14 other games on Friday's schedule, and more games, of course, mean more betting opportunities.
The betting lines for Friday's games have been set. So which games should you bet on? Which matchup(s) actually favor the underdog? We go inside the numbers and break down the arms on the bump to find out which lines are the most appealing.
Lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Twins vs. Royals: over nine runs
This game features the second-highest scoring offense in the American League, Minnesota, with two starters, Jakob Junis and Devin Smeltzer, that have combined to give up eight earned runs across nine innings of work. Despite the 3-10 start, Royals' hitters have looked more than comfortable at the dish (104 hits, third-most in the AL) -- their inability to hit bullpen arms has really held them back (.152 BA against relievers). Fortunately for Kansas City, the Twins are throwing a spot starter out there who hasn't missed many bats in his first two outings.
The Twins' offense has scored at least five runs in four straight games, rarely strikes out (106 SO in 13 games), and faces a pitcher in Junis who gives up his fair share base runners (1.338 career WHIP) -- making the over that much more enticing.
Tigers vs. Pirates: Pirates +105
The Tigers, a team that won 47 games last year, are (-115) favorites on the road? I'll take the home team every day and twice on Sunday. Yes, Detroit is off to a surprisingly solid start, and the Pirates were not much better last year (or this year, for that matter). But, Detroit hasn't played since Sunday (series vs. St. Louis was postponed), and their ace, Matthew Boyd, has given up eight earned runs in his first two starts. Not to mention, three of their fives wins have come against the Reds, who have stumbled out of the starting blocks, and the other two against Royals, a team that hasn't had a winning season since 2015.
While the Pirates haven't exactly reaped success this year, five of their 10 losses have been decided by one run or less, and their competition hasn't been easy (Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Twins).
Reds vs. Brewers: Brewers +115
Another home underdog, and this one involves a home team that actually has a better record than the visiting club. The line isn't exactly surprising considering the utter dominance by Reds projected starter Trevor Bauer (0.68 ERA, 13.5 SO/9) along with a Brewers offense that has fallen short of expectations (3.2 runs per game).
Irregardless, Christian Yelich is not going to hit .088 for an entire season. Brewers hitters have also, historically, displayed elite discipline at the dish (4.03 pitches per PA last season, most in NL). Bauer racks up the strikeouts at a high clip, but that has made it difficult for him to pitch deep into ball games (less than six innings per start in his 186 career starts). Both these notes are crucial when you consider the Reds' shaky bullpen (7.65 ERA, three blown saves). If Milwaukee can knock Bauer out before the sixth or even seventh inning, I love the Brewers chances at home.
Braves vs. Phillies: over 10 runs
Atlanta comes into this series with more runs scored than any club in baseball. The Phillies have a bit of a small sample size due to schedule disruptions that followed their series against Miami, but they are not far behind the Braves in terms of runs per game (Braves: 5.21, Phillies: 5.0).
Vince Velasquez (0-1, 12.00 ERA) is set to take the hill against Braves right-hander Kyle Wright (0-1, 7.50 ERA). It's a battle of two unestablished pitchers in a game that features stars like Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and two monster lineups. Oh, and whenever these two starters get knocked out of the game, the Phillies bullpen has given up 17 runs in just 16 2/3 innings -- the Braves 'pen has, however, been stellar (2.79 ERA). Expect these two lineups to slug it out and cross the plate aplenty.