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This is has been the longest summer ever. I’ve “quit” betting MLB like four times already. At this point, I’m just running out the clock until football season begins.
I’ve spent most of this summer preparing for football but I prefer using my bankroll on actual games than futures. Thus, I cannot quit baseball.
MLB is the only game in town and my success betting the sport from 2018-21 keeps bringing me back to the diamond. With that in mind, I’ve conjured up a diversified betting portfolio for …
MLB’s Friday Slate
- Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Oakland Athletics RHP Paul Blackburn OVER 3.5 strikeouts (-145)
The A’s start a 3-game interleague set at National Park Friday with the Washington Nationals. Both of which are dead-last in their respective divisions and are essentially eliminated from playoff contention.
However, Oakland’s starter Friday — RHP Paul Blackburn (2-2, 4.35 ERA) — is having a career-year. According to Statcast, Blackburn’s chase rate grades in the 82nd percentile of all MLB pitchers.
Blackburn is averaging 9.5 K/9 and has at least 5 IP in 10 of his 11 starts this year. He has struck out five or more batters in nine of his 11 starts in 2023. This month, Nationals batters are striking out 8.3 times per game.
Entering Friday, Blackburn’s 23.3% K-rate is 6.2% higher than his career average! Blackburn has career bests in FIP (“fielding independent pitching”), hard-hit rate, and exit velocity (EV), per Baseball-Reference.com.
The reason Blackburn’s K-prop is so low is because of Washington’s low K-rate. Believe it or not, the lowly Nationals have the 2nd-best K% in MLB this season, according to FanGraphs.
That said, Washington’s lineup does expand the zone. The Nationals batters are 25th in outside-the-zone swing rate, per Sports Info Solutions. Plus, they have the 2nd-worst swinging-strike rate in MLB.
Detroit Tigers +120 (down to +115) > Boston Red Sox
Imma take a shot with the Tigers in their series opener with the Red Sox Friday because I’m high on Detroit starting LHP Tarik Skubal (2-1, 3.67 ERA). When you look under the hood, Skubal’s form is better than his basic numbers suggest.
For instance, Skubal’s 1.37 FIP is lower than his ERA and FIP is the more predictive pitching stat. He started 2023 on the IL but Skubal has an insane 33/4 K/BB rate through his 1st six starts this season.
Furthermore, Detroit’s batters have been hotter this month. In August, the Tigers out-rank the Red Sox in WAR (1.1 vs. -0.1), wRC+ (103-81) and wOBA (.318-.295), according to FanGraphs.
There has been sharp line movement headed to Detroit in the betting market. Boston’s moneyline (ML) opened at -165 and is down to -142 at DraftKings. This is despite nearly 60% of the action being on the Red Sox at the time of writing, per Pregame.com.
Both bullpens have comparable advanced and basic pitching stats. But, Boston’s starter Friday, LHP Chris Sale (5-2, 4.58 ERA), has poor numbers vs. Detroit’s lineup. Per Statcast, active Tigers batters have a .340/.438/.613 expected slash line in 93 plate appearances vs. Sale.
San Diego Padres -1.5 (-102) Run Line (up to -110) > Arizona Diamondbacks
The Padres-Diamondbacks series opener Friday at Chase Field has a 9:40 p.m. ET 1st pitch. San Diego owns a 4-2 lead over Arizona in the season series entering this 3-game NL West series.
San Diego turns to ace LHP Blake Snell (8-8, 2.61 ERA) who’s having an NL Cy Young-caliber year. Snell ranks atop MLB in several advanced pitching categories such as K%, EV, hard-hit rate, and whiff rate.
Also, Arizona’s lineup ranks 23rd vs. left-handed pitching in wRC+ and 19th in wOBA. This month, the D-Backs are 28th in both WAR and wRC+, 29th in wOBA and 20th in hard-hit rate, according to FanGraphs.
The Padres haven’t given Snell the support he needs, which explains his .500 win/loss record. But, as heavy favorites, San Diego is winning games that Snell starts.
As of Friday morning, August 11th, the Padres are -166 ML favorites vs. the D-Backs and their -1.5 run line is priced at -105. San Diego is 9-5 straight up (SU) and vs. the run line (RL) as -150 favorites or greater in Snell starts this season.
The Padres have a -0.2% SU return on investment (ROI) in those outings but a +28.8% RL ROI. I.e. just lay the -1.5 if you’re going to bet San Diego has big favorites with Snell on the bump.
Over his last five starts against Arizona, Snell is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA and a 46/8 K/BB rate. D-Backs RHP Ryne Nelson (6-6, 5.16 ERA) has allowed 8 ER over just 10 IP in two starts against San Diego in 2023 with a 7/6 K/BB rate and 3 HRs surrendered.
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