The Boston Red Sox have lost three of their last four games and can no longer claim the best record in the majors. Even when they had a three-game or larger lead on the rest of their division, futures markets consistently had the New York Yankees the favorite to win the division. That makes one wonder if oddsmakers were considering the schedule that Boston has played to this point.
Of the 12 series the Red Sox have played thus far, seven of them came against teams under .500 while just four came against teams over .500 (the Rays were exactly .500 entering Thursday). In those games, the Red Sox have a 7-6 record against teams with a winning record and are 13-10 against teams with a losing record. Thus, while the Red Sox have certainly exceeded expectations to this point, bettors may need to dig deeper into the data and ask themselves if a team like Boston has staying power, or are they a product of a weaker schedule to this point.
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: 49-37-2 (+8.43 units)
Tampa Bay Rays ML (-157)
The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a series against the Yankees where their bats went silent until the series finale. They scored just one run in the first two games combined, and have scored more than three runs just twice in their last six games. The Rays now face a red-hot New York Mets squad that has won seven straight games, the longest active winning streak in the majors. However, momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. In this series opener, the Rays have a decisive pitching edge.
Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.37 ERA) has ten or more strikeouts in three of his last four starts. His 0.89 WHIP ranks tenth in the majors, and his 13.68 K/9 rate ranks fourth in the league. Current Mets hitters are a combined 9-for-52 (.173 BA) with a .250 slugging percentage against Glasnow.
Mets starter David Peterson (1-3, 5.54 ERA) is coming off his shortest outing of the season when he lasted 1.2 innings after struggling mightily with his control against the Diamondbacks. He is 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA in three road starts this year, with a BAA of .300 in those starts.
Tonight’s game is the start of a nine-game road trip for the Mets, who are just 7-9 on the road this year. New York has climbed to first place in the NL East on the strength of an outstanding home record, but do not be surprised if they limp their way through this road trip, starting with a loss tonight.
Nationals-Diamondbacks OVER 9 runs (-104)
Many casual fans would be surprised to realize that Max Scherzer’s start against the Arizona Diamondbacks is one in which he is facing his former team. Scherzer made a name for himself with the Tigers and Nationals, but he spent his first two full seasons in Arizona, going 9-15 with a 3.86 ERA. While he is a much better pitcher now than he was, certain pitchers are not great in certain ballparks. In Scherzer’s last three starts in Arizona, he has pitched to a 4.05 ERA.
This total is low because of Scherzer’s track record. However, the Arizona Diamondbacks are a sneaky good offensive team, with the second-most runs scored in the league. They rank third in the majors with a .819 OPS in home games, while their .277 team batting average ranks first.
Arizona starting pitcher Riley Smith (1-2, 4.85 ERA) has a 1.50 WHIP but does not miss many bats, as evidenced by his 12 strikeouts in 26 innings. The Nationals have a .299 BABIP which ranks sixth in the majors, so they can get to Smith if he is not whiffing many batters.
San Diego Padres -1.5 runs (+138)
The St. Louis Cardinals have the second-best road winning percentage of any National League team. They are coming off a series where they took two out of three games against the Brewers, their biggest competition in the division. That series likely took a toll on them, especially since they faced two of the National League’s best pitchers in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in consecutive games. Things do not get much easier when facing Joe Musgrove and a Padres team who benefited from a day off yesterday.
Musgrove (2-4, 3.23 ERA) has allowed nine earned runs in his last ten innings. Both of those starts came against the Giants. However, he now has an opportunity to get right against a Cardinals offense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in batting average and OPS.
The Padres have lost four of Musgrove’s last five starts, but the opportunity to pick up a win is remarkable considering they face a pitcher who made his previous start in AAA. St. Louis’s Johan Oviedo (0-1, 4.61 ERA) rejoins the rotation out of necessity, as Carlos Martinez was placed on the IL. He has not pitched more than five innings in any of his three appearances this season, which means the Padres will get plenty of opportunities to feast on St. Louis’s relievers.
The Padres are 6-2 in their last eight home games against the Cardinals and are 8-3 in their previous 11 meetings overall. This should be a competitive series, but San Diego has the edge in the home opener.
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