The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles tonight, looking to extend their Major League-best 11-game winning streak. The A’s have won games in all sorts of ways this year, but perhaps no wins were as crazy as their latest against the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota handed Oakland the game with back-to-back errors in the 10th inning after entering the bottom half of the inning with a two-run lead. The A’s are not apologizing for that win, especially after starting the season the way they did. As Stats by Stats explained, Oakland’s first 19 games have been a roller coaster, and they made history in the process.
The @Athletics are the first team in MLB history to start a season 0-6 and then win 11 straight at any point later that season.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) April 22, 2021
Here are my MLB top betting plays for Friday. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook):
View the best player prop bets for today’s slate with our MLB Prop Bet Cheat Sheet >>
YTD: 27-17-1 (+7.63 units)
Chicago Cubs ML (-145)
After a historically bad start to the season offensively for the Chicago Cubs, their bats seem to be coming alive as we near the end of April. Chicago’s offense from a batting average standpoint was on par with the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who won just 44 games that year. In the last five games entering Thursday, Chicago’s offense has averaged 9.0 runs per game, including two games scoring at least 13 runs. Cubs hitters are familiar with the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting pitcher tonight, and their success historically against him should carry them to another big win.
Milwaukee’s Brett Anderson is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA this season. When he faced the Cubs in his first outing on April 5th, Anderson was perfect through three innings before the dam broke in the fourth. He allowed four runs on three home runs in that inning and ultimately took the loss in a 5-3 game. Chicago’s right-handed batters have fared well against the lefty in their careers. Except for Austin Romine, every Cubs’ right-handed batter is hitting at least .250 against Anderson, and all but one are slugging at least .667.
Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks (0-2, 6.92 ERA) is coming off his worst start of the season where he allowed seven runs and four home runs in four innings against the Atlanta Braves. Before that start, Hendricks’ ERA was a respectable 3.00, and he was averaging five strikeouts per start.
Hendricks has a career .621 winning percentage at home compared to a .541 winning percentage on the road, and his ERA is more than a full run lower in home starts. He has faced the Brewers four more times than any other team in his career and is 9-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 24 starts against them.
The Brewers have a dominant top of the rotation so far this season, but Brett Anderson is well below the caliber of his other rotation members. Take advantage of a good price with Hendricks on the mound and bank on him turning in another solid performance against Milwaukee, especially with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain once again out of the lineup.
Boston Red Sox ML (-133)
The Boston Red Sox are a half-game behind the Seattle Mariners for the best record in the American League. They blew an eighth inning lead in the series opener last night, which is why their odds tonight are lower than they otherwise would be. Boston is a great value to even the series, as the Mariners send lefty Yusei Kikuchi to the mound.
The Red Sox rank sixth in the league with a .275 batting average and 12th in the league with a .766 OPS against left-handed starters. Kikuchi has not earned a decision yet through any of his first three starts, despite pitching at least six innings in every outing thus far.
Mariners manager Scott Servais may want to think about removing him earlier from games, as the third time around through the lineup seems to be Kikuchi’s undoing. In his last start against the Astros, Kikuchi had a no-hitter through four innings. However, he finished with a stat line of seven innings and allowed five runs on six hits. His strikeout total has gone down every start, and his walks have increased. Kikuchi’s lone start against Boston came in 2019 when he allowed three runs in six innings, including solo home runs to J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.
While Boston’s starting pitcher, Martin Perez’s numbers (0-2, 5.93 ERA) are nothing to get excited about, he is familiar with the Mariners from the seven years he spent in Texas. Perez is 9-5 with a 3.42 career ERA against Seattle. The Mariners offense entered Thursday ranked last in the league with a .175 BA and second-to-last with a .583 OPS against left-handed pitching. Thus, Perez should once again have Seattle’s number.
Blue Jays-Rays UNDER 7 runs (+102)
The series opener between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays is a matchup of two opposites from a betting perspective regarding totals. The Rays entered Thursday as the second-most profitable team to the over with a 13-6 record, while Toronto is the league’s most profitable team to the under at 13-5. However, with two starting pitchers that are each off to great starts on the mound, runs should be at a premium.
Toronto’s Steven Matz continues to love the change of scenery after spending his first six seasons with the Mets. Matz is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA through his first three starts and has allowed just one earned run in at least six innings of work every time out. His WHIP of 0.818 is on pace to be 0.4 lower than his previous career-best.
Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow is also unbeaten through four starts. He is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA, which ranks fifth in the majors. His 13.14 K/9 rate ranks seventh among all pitchers, and his .191 BABIP allowed ranks 11th.
The under is 10-2 in Toronto’s 12 games as a road team, and should not be in doubt with two of the American League’s best pitchers opposing each other tonight.
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