MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, September 29th

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MLB schedule today has 14 games

The final Friday of the MLB regular season features 14 games, as the Phillies and Mets game has already been postponed due to historic flooding in New York City. We’ve also got some potentially huge drama on Monday, as Marlins/Mets was suspended in the ninth inning last night with Miami holding a 2-1 lead. The bottom of the ninth in that game may end up deciding a playoff berth.

 

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But, the focus is on Friday here, as we have more competitive lines than we’ve seen throughout the rest of the week. The week wouldn’t have been complete without a Rangers blown save that felt like the cherry on top of the bad-tasting sundae that this MLB season has been. I probably won’t have many plays tonight and tomorrow, as the last three days of the regular season is akin to skipping through a minefield in clown shoes. Let’s see what today has in store anyway.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 29 card (odds from DraftKings):

Miami Marlins (-112, 8.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates

Edward Cabrera is listed as the straight starter for this one and the Pirates have not officially named one, as they’ll likely go with an opener followed by Quinn Priester. Priester has been able to make some MLB meal money and get some experience this season, but that’s about all the good things you can say, as he has a 7.86 ERA with a 6.28 xERA and a 6.86 FIP in 44.2 innings of work.

Cabrera has allowed four runs on 11 hits in 19 innings with 22 strikeouts against 11 walks. He walked six in one appearance and gave up two runs, but he’s been really good otherwise, including each of his last two starts with 10.1 innings and two runs allowed. With no line posted for this game, it’s hard to say much more, but the Marlins do seem to have the upper hand on the pitching side.

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers (-115, 8)

Colin Rea gets a straight start here for the Brewers and Kyle Hendricks will be called upon to pitch the biggest game of the season for the Cubs. Rea had been used as the bulk guy behind reliever Trevor Megill for his last few outings, but the Brewers will ride with Rea in a more traditional way after clinching the NL Central earlier this week.

Rea has thrown one inning over the last 10 days. He’s only allowed six runs on 13 hits in his last 19.1 innings with 19 strikeouts against six walks. He’s given up four homers, but has pitched really well otherwise in the month of September. We’ll see what happens in this one with a straight start, as maybe the bulk role helped or maybe he’s just in a nice groove.

Hendricks and the Cubs have dropped three straight and do not have the tiebreaker against the Marlins, so they are effectively 1.5 games out, even though the standings say 0.5. The Marlins also have a 2-1 lead in a game that could mean everything on Monday, so Chicago is basically in sweep or bust mode.

In four September starts, Hendricks has allowed 13 runs on 28 hits, but only 10 of the runs are earned for a 4.03 ERA with a 3.43 FIP. He’s only allowed two homers and only walked four guys to go with 17 K in 22.1 innings, but the defense and the BABIP gods have not been much help, posting a .342 BABIP and a 65.1% LOB%.

It was against Atlanta, but what we’ve seen from the Cubs this week, they’re just not trustworthy, even against a Brewers team that will be rotating some guys in and out this weekend to stay sharp for October.

Cincinnati Reds (-120, 9) at St. Louis Cardinals

The Reds are not going to make the playoffs in all likelihood, but what a season this has been for them. They’ve been able to get a lot of young players some vital experience and even participate in a playoff race. One of those young guys is on the hill tonight in Brandon Williamson against Jake Woodford and the Cardinals.

The biggest story this weekend for the Cardinals is whether or not Adam Wainwright will get an at bat. He’s not pitching in this series, having secured his 200th win with a chance to go out on top. The Cardinals have lost seven of 10 and have a legit Major League lineup on the IL at this point. So, the stage should be set for the Cardinals to come in and keep their slim postseason hopes alive, but I’m not terribly confident in that.

A lot of the young arms for the Reds look pretty gassed, including Williamson, who has not completed five innings since August 29. He missed some time on the COVID list and has allowed 10 runs on 17 hits in his last 12.1 innings of work.

Woodford has mostly been a reserve for the Cardinals, as he was recently recalled and has allowed a run on five hits in 6.1 innings of work over the last 10 days. He went 3.2 innings in his last start and allowed a run on four hits to lower his ERA to 5.09 and his FIP to 5.82.

I just don’t know that the Reds have a lot left in the tank, even if the Cardinals may go through the motions this weekend.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-142, 8.5) at San Francisco Giants

We head to the Bay Area, where the Dodgers and Giants exchange pleasantries this weekend. The Dodgers have nothing to play for, as the Braves locked up the No. 1 seed this week, so it’s just about staying healthy and not developing any bad habits. Lance Lynn has something to pitch for, though, as he’s struggled mightily of late and is nowhere near a lock to make the playoff rotation. To be honest, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he didn’t make the NLDS roster.

Lynn has allowed seven runs on 16 hits in his last three starts over 18 innings, so things have stabilized a little bit, but he allowed 19 runs on 24 hits in a three-start stretch prior to this. He won’t be facing lineups like the Tigers and the Giants in the postseason, so we’ll see what the Dodgers do. This will be Lynn’s second straight start against San Fran, as he allowed two runs on five hits over six innings last time out.

Keaton Winn comes off the COVID list for this start, as he’ll make his first MLB appearance in 13 days. He was recalled on September 3 and has allowed six runs on 12 hits in 15 innings with a bulk appearance against the Padres and then two starts against the Rockies, including his last one at Coors Field.

The Dodgers won’t be as prone to letting guys get days off this weekend because they’re going to probably go at least a week without playing during the Wild Card Round that starts on Tuesday, so they’ll want their guys to stay as sharp as possible. So, I think we get something resembling the full unit tonight. 

Since taking two of three from Cleveland September 11-13, with both wins in extra innings, the Giants have just three wins against 10 losses. They’re not playing well at all and the offense has been an issue throughout the second half. Even though the Dodgers aren’t playing for anything, I’d still lean with them tonight, though I’m not fully committed to Lynn to make this one a bet.

Cleveland Guardians (-112, 8.5) at Detroit Tigers

The Tigers haven’t finished higher than third in the AL Central since 2016. Does it matter given that they’re still going to finish with a losing record? Maybe, maybe not, but finishing ahead of Cleveland would at least be some kind of positive exiting the season.

I do really wish that this game was yesterday instead of today, as fading Cleveland after the one-run win on Terry Francona Night seems like it would have been a good idea. Instead, they had an off day and now go to Detroit for a meaningless series to round out the season. There aren’t any other accolades to get Francona this weekend. He’s going to finish 13th in all-time wins and is the winningest manager in Guardians history already by nearly 200 wins over Lou Boudreau.

Cal Quantrill gets the start here for the Guardians, as he looks to finish a bad season on a high note. Quantrill has a 5.13 ERA with a 4.73 FIP, but he’s allowed six runs on 20 hits in 27.2 innings since coming off the IL on September 1. He does have a 4.37 FIP in that span, as he has only 17 strikeouts against 12 walks while running a .222 BABIP and an 89.4% LOB%. To his credit, Quantrill has a 37.3% Hard Hit% against and has allowed six or fewer hard-hit balls in four of his five starts.

As of now, Joey Wentz is scheduled to make his second start since August 18, as he started back on September 12 and allowed five runs (two earned) in just 2.2 innings. He’s allowed five runs on eight hits in his last 10 innings as a bulk reliever. He’s got a 6.45 ERA with a 5.57 FIP for the season. I really wish the Tigers were throwing somebody better here, but you can see what the oddsmakers think of these two teams, given the pick ‘em-ish line with such a bad pitcher in Wentz.

He is left-handed, so that may help his cause against Cleveland, but we usually see heavy recency bias in the markets with pitchers and Quantrill is actually throwing the ball really well of late. We don’t see much of that here.

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (-120, 7.5)

The party raged deep into the night for the Orioles after winning the AL East with last night’s 2-0 win over Boston. We’ll get a hangover lineup from Baltimore here. The O’s will be one of those teams that has to find a way to stay sharp with an extended layoff while the AL Wild Card teams play their series, so it will be an interesting thing for Brandon Hyde to navigate.

John Means gets the start here today and Nick Pivetta will go for the Red Sox. As much as the hangover lineup might be a concern for the O’s, Boston has four wins since September 4. Some key players have been lost to injury, but this is a team that just seems to have outright quit on the season. They’ve lost five in a row, seven of eight, and 11 of 13 at this point. They’ve been shut out in back-to-back games and have scored a total of 12 runs in the last six, and that includes scoring seven runs in one of them.

Means has looked good since his return, allowing five runs on 10 hits in 17.1 innings of work. He got up to 96 pitches against Cleveland last time out and he’ll at least be somebody locked in today as he looks for some playoff innings following a really tough year on the injury front. He’s only allowed a 32.7% Hard Hit% and just four barrels in starts against St. Louis, Houston, and Cleveland. The Guardians can’t hit any lefty, but shutting down the Astros as a southpaw is very impressive.

Pivetta has allowed eight runs on 18 hits since rejoining the rotation on September 6. He’s finishing on a high note with 28 strikeouts against four walks as he heads into what will be a very interesting arbitration-eligible offseason. I think there’s a lot of incentive for Boston to move him, but his price tag may be up in the $7 million range after how this season went, so that’s a big price to pay for a guy who might be more of an expensive long reliever than anything else.

I actually like the Orioles today, even though Pivetta has pitched well. Means has been great and Boston hasn’t been scoring. Plus, they seem pretty checked out. With the youth movement in Baltimore, the bench is a lot deeper than it was coming into the season, so those guys will get cracks today against Pivetta. It’ll probably be a low-scoring game, but I think the O’s are really well-managed and well-prepared on a nightly basis.

Here’s the thing, though. This line will likely move as the Orioles lineup gets announced. I doubt we see Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander. Cedric Mullins didn’t play yesterday, so I feel like he’ll be in there, but some guys will be missing that push the number down. I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the purposes of the article, but this price could get a little bit better once we see a lineup.

On the other hand, some guys may be in there that we don’t expect to be and that could pull the line back up. I’m calling it -120 for the article (and shop around because DraftKings once again has a high number relative to the rest of the market), but I like Baltimore here. You should exercise more price sensitivity, though, as you have the luxury of waiting. I have to get my article up so it has lead time.

Pick: Orioles -120

Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays (-148, 7.5)

The Rays and Jays square off in a game that means way more to Toronto. With Baltimore locking up the AL East, this weekend is all about manager Kevin Cash and his ability to get his team ready for the Wild Card Round. Tampa Bay will host it against a TBD opponent and that may mean a shorter start from Aaron Civale or resting some of the key guys who have been banged up and battling injuries.

Toronto doesn’t have that luxury with Yusei Kikuchi on the hill. They need wins. Seattle has the playoff tiebreaker, as the teams went 3-3 against each other, but the Mariners have far and away a better division record. The Blue Jays are just 20-29 against the AL East, while the Mariners are 31-18 against the AL West. So, the Blue Jays just need to worry about controlling their own destiny.

It has been a struggle recently for Kikuchi with a 5.24 ERA and a 3.11 FIP in 34.1 innings of work. He’s allowed 40 hits in that span, though he does have 45 strikeouts and has only allowed four homers in seven starts. He has a 3.11 FIP in that span, but he has a 59.5% LOB% with a .400 BABIP and has allowed a 50% Hard Hit% with a 9.6% Barrel%.

So, I don’t see a ton to be excited about with his recent returns. That said, I don’t with Civale either, who has missed a couple of extra days with an illness and has allowed 13 runs over his last three starts covering just 13 innings. He allowed six runs on seven hits to the lowly Angels last time out.

Absolutely nothing from me in this game, as it could go a variety of ways, but I am curious to see what the Rays lineup looks like today and throughout the weekend.

New York Yankees (-142, 9.5) at Kansas City Royals

Jordan Lyles comes into this one with a 6.24 ERA and a 5.65 FIP during what has been a hard, but admirable season for the veteran right-hander. He hasn’t been good at all, but he’s given Kansas City 171.2 innings during what has clearly been a transitional year for the team. They’ve used a lot of rookies and different pitchers, as well as a lot of different position players. But, Lyles has been a constant with 30 starts and has gone out there and eaten some innings on some really bad days.

This will be his final start of 2023 and he’ll look to build on the five shutout innings he threw last time out against Houston. You never really know how bad it can get for Lyles, as he’s allowed seven or more runs six times this season and allowed five runs seven times. The Yankees haven’t hit righties well this season at all, but Lyles is about the worst one in baseball, so they could have a chance here.

On the New York side, their minds may be elsewhere with the extreme flooding back home, but Rodon’s mind should be fully focused on the game. He’s had a throwaway season in Year 1 of a $162 million deal with a 5.74 ERA and a 5.49 FIP. A few different IL stints and some subpar outings, including five runs allowed last time out against the Diamondbacks, have made for a long year. He’ll look to go into the offseason trying to build on some positives.

I will say this about this series – Aaron Judge has hit 37 homers. Judge was pretty vocal after the Yankees got eliminated from playoff contention about feeling like he was to blame because of his injury and the time he missed. I would be pretty surprised if he didn’t get to 40 homers by hitting three of them this weekend. I don’t think I’ve seen a Over 0.5 HR as low as +170 like it is for Judge today against Lyles, who has allowed 38 of them, but I would anticipate Judge doing everything in his power to get to 40.

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels (-142, 8.5)

Ken Waldichuk and Chase Silseth are listed here as two teams play out the string in Anaheim. Waldichuk has a 5.29 ERA with a 4.65 xERA and a 5.23 FIP in his 136 innings of work, but he’s one of many A’s who has made subtle improvements as the season has gone along. In the second half, Waldichuk has a 3.80 ERA with a 4.24 FIP in 64 innings of work with 10 starts and three bulk relief efforts. He allowed six runs to the Padres two outings ago in a bulk role, but that is the only time he’s allowed more than four runs in an appearance.

He’s also got 61 strikeouts in 64 innings and has cut down on the walks, plus he’s allowed just a 35% Hard Hit%. I’m actually impressed with what he’s been able to do and guys like him and Luis Medina have made strides that have largely gone unnoticed. I have noticed them and am mentally preparing to bet an A’s season win total over next year.

Silseth will make his first start since he was hit in the head by a comebacker in a very scary incident back on August 26. He’s got a 4.10 ERA with a 4.97 FIP in 48.1 innings of work, but he’s only thrown 3.2 innings since then. He made two rehab appearances at Triple-A and allowed two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and six walks out of 22 batters faced.

I am extremely tempted to bet on the A’s here, but I don’t think I can do it. Maybe the Angels rally for Silseth. Maybe Waldichuk turns back into a pumpkin. Maybe the A’s don’t score, which is probably the likeliest outcome given how the season has gone. But, I gave Oakland a lot of thought here.

Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners (-118, 7.5)

The Rangers will go with Nathan Eovaldi and the Mariners will roll with Bryan Woo after last night’s walk-off win that pulled the M’s to within one game of the Astros in the Wild Card chase. The problem has been the Texas bullpen all second half and it would have been much smarter of me to trust my Jordan Montgomery handicap and just go 1st 5, so shame on me for that.

Eovaldi just faced the Mariners last weekend and allowed five runs on six hits. Since returning on September 5, he has allowed 14 runs on 21 hits in 17 innings of work with 16 strikeouts against 11 walks. He’s maxed out at five innings and 22 batters faced and has allowed a ton of hard contact, so this is not exactly a reliable profile going into the postseason.

Woo had a rough outing last weekend against Texas, as he allowed six runs on five hits, with four of those five hits leaving the ballpark. Woo had thrown 10.2 shutout innings prior to that against the Angels and A’s, but the Rangers really knocked him around. That leaves me with no idea what happens here, but I know that I’m not backing Texas when Eovaldi may not work deep into this game. It would be Seattle or bust, but I’ll stay away after busting on this one yesterday.

Minnesota Twins (-192, 11) at Colorado Rockies

Skipping over Padres/White Sox (Martinez/Cease)

I actually wanted to talk a little bit about this series because I think it’s a really, really weird dynamic. The Twins are going to the thin air of Colorado for a meaningless trip and will return home for the Wild Card Round. Bad habits can form in Colorado where pitches don’t really do what they’re supposed to and it can throw hitters for a loop. I’m really, truly curious to see how Rocco Baldelli and the staff manage this one.

Fatigue can also be a factor at elevation, so I don’t think we see any back-to-back appearances for high-leverage guys and I think players will go rotated in and out of the lineup. It’s probably worse going there with nothing to play for, but man is it a strange spot.

Also, the Rockies just played the Dodgers, so that was more of a litmus test than this is to them. Ty Blach has allowed 23 runs in 25 innings this month with an 8.28 ERA and a 7.37 FIP, so regression has hit him like a ton of bricks. I could see a high-scoring game here, as Twins pitchers may just throw a lot of fastballs to avoid developing any bad habits with the breaking stuff or losing confidence in it.

I said I wasn’t betting any more totals in the regular season, so make of that what you will, but I could see runs here. It’ll also be in the 80s at first pitch.

Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks (-122, 9.5)

JP France and Zac Gallen are the listed starters here, as both teams are playing meaningful baseball this week in hopes of making it to the postseason. The path is easier for Arizona, who is up 1.5 games on Miami and two games on Chicago. The Astros are fighting with the Mariners, who are a game back, but Houston could catch Toronto, who is a game up.

Anyway, you’ve got France here, who has a 3.83 ERA, but a 4.97 xERA and a 4.66 FIP up against Gallen, who has a 3.49 ERA with a 4.16 xERA and a 3.32 FIP. I’ve talked about Gallen a lot, as you know. Over his last six starts, Gallen has allowed 22 runs in 35.2 innings of work. He has a 5.30 ERA, but he’s gone 15 shutout innings over two starts and has allowed 22 runs over the other four starts.

Gallen has allowed a ton of hard contact throughout the second half, including a 44.2% Hard Hit% rate over these last six starts. The thing about tonight is that France’s numbers are even scarier of the last month, as he’s got a 7.94 ERA with a 6.68 FIP in his last six starts over 28.1 innings with a 21/16 K/BB ratio.

France has been a regression candidate throughout the year and it has hit recently, as he had a start with 10 runs allowed against Boston, along with two other starts of five runs allowed. I have not been high on Gallen, as you know, and I do think that the Astros are the better team, but I can’t back France here.

TL;DR Recap

Orioles -120