It’s another jam-packed Friday in Major League Baseball. All 30 teams are in action, including Dodgers vs. Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Our analysts are more focused on this evening’s slate, though. We have four bets on four different games, including Athletics vs. Rangers, Nationals vs. Twins, Padres vs. Diamondbacks and Cardinals vs. Mariners.
Here are our best bets for the MLB slate on Friday, April 21st.
Today’s MLB Best Bets for Friday, April 21
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our MLB betting staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Athletics vs. Rangers
Jon Gray Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-106)
By Nick Shlain
Texas Rangers starter Jon Gray isn’t the most dependable pitcher in the league. Gray has a long injury history including missing time last year.
Looking at his game log this year, he’s only reached seven strikeouts in one of his three starts and was removed from his most recent start after just two innings. Still, one of my favorite bets on the slate for Friday is Gray to go over 6.5 strikeouts.
Gray has posted at least a 23% strikeout percentage in each of the last three seasons and has a career strikeout percentage of 24%. The key for Gray here is his success against right-handed batters. He has a 34% strikeout percentage against right-handed batters this season. Last season he had similar success against right-handed batters with a 29% strikeout percentage against right-handed batters.
The Oakland Athletics lineup isn’t overly right-handed with just five projected starters in the lineup that will bat from the right side. Still, the left-handed hitters in Oakland’s lineup are striking out a combined 26.8% of the time against right-handed pitching this year.
With Gray taking care of the righties and the lefties taking care of themselves, he should be able to cover this number easily if he doesn’t have an injury.
Pick: Jon Gray Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-106)
Nationals vs. Twins
By BJ Cunningham
Game time temperatures are going to be balmy 31 degrees in Minneapolis on Friday night, which means that run are going to be suppressed.
Trevor Williams is going to be on the mound for the Nationals, and I have him catagorized as a perfectly average starting pitcher. Through three starts this season, he has an ERA at 3.52, his BB/9 rate is at 1.76 and he’s allowing a very average exit velocity. He is a flyball pitcher and the wind is blowing out at 11 mph, but per BallPark Pal, with temperature being so low, it’s projected to reduce the amount of home runs by 41%. Plus, the was Target Field is built, you’d have to hit a ball really high for the wind to matter when it’s blowing out.
Williams mainly pitched out of the bullpen last season for the Mets, but did have a 3.76 xERA, which was the best of his career. Minnesota’s offense hasn’t really gotten going this season and the Twins have been struggling versus right-handed pitching, only putting up a .306 wOBA, which is 23rd in MLB.
Tyler Mahle is going on year four now of putting up outstanding expected indicators. Since 2020, he’s posted under a 3.8 xERA in every single season. He has an incredibly effective fastball that does only average a little over 93 mph, but last season, opposing hitters only had a .180 xBA and .270 xwOBA against it and it also had a Stuff+ rating of 107, which was top 30 in MLB.
Something interesting from his first three starts is he has abandoned his cutter, which was his third most thrown pitch last season and is now throwing his slider 30% of the time, when last season he only threw it about 11% of the time.
Mahle this offseason said “I’ve struggled with a breaking ball for so long. I couldn’t find a grip that worked for me, mindset on where I need to be, mechanically, stuff like that, where my hand needs to be. Driveline fixed it right up and tailored it to the kind of pitcher I am,” per MLB.com.
So far this season, in a small sample size of 80 pitches it’s producing a 30% whiff rate and opposing hitters only have a .196 xwOBA against it. Dating back to the start of last season, the Nationals against right handed fastballs and sliders have a -11.4 run value.
I only have 7.2 runs projected for this game, so I like the value on Under 7.5 runs at -106.
Pick: Under 7.5 (-106)
Padres vs. Diamondbacks
By D.J. James
Both of these pitchers have had great starts to their 2023 seasons. Seth Lugo has a 2.70 ERA and only struggled a bit with hits in his last start. He ranks in the top-half of the league in strikeout and walk rate. Zac Gallen owns a 3.33 EERA and an excellent 2.70 xERA. Like Lugo, he might allow some hard contact, but he has been solid and will continue to be.
Both of these teams have struggled to hit right-handers. San Diego ranks 20th at 94 wRC+. The Padres do have a 12%+ walk rate, but Gallen only has a 5.3% walk rate, so they should not expect many free bases. Arizona is even worse against righties at a 87 wRC+ and the Snakes have only walked 5.6% of the time.
One hang-up to an under in this game is that both bullpens rank among the middle of the pack. San Diego has a 4.43 xFIP with a 11%+ walk rate, while Arizona has a 4.35 xFIP with a 12%+ walk rate. The starters may not walk many, but the bullpens sometimes do yield some.
Either way, this game should still go under the total, even with a few late-inning runs. Take the under to 8.5 and -120.
Pick: Under 9 (+105)
Cardinals vs. Mariners
By Tanner McGrath
This is mostly a bet on George Kirby, who has proven himself as one of MLB’s elite “nasty stuff” throwers.
And would you look at that! The Stuff+ on Kirby’s slider is up to 125 this season compared to 112 last season. He’s also got a solid, mid-90s fastball that he pairs with a two-seam, alongside a hammer-of-God curveball.
Kirby has bendy stuff and unbelievable command. He loves to paint corners and almost never misses his spot (career 3.8% walk rate).
Meanwhile, opposing starting pitcher Steven Matz is an easy guy to fade. The Stuff+ on his whole arsenal is down, he pairs a mid-6.00s ERA with a mid-5.00s xERA, and he ranks below the 20th percentile in avg. EV and hard-hit rate allowed.
The Cardinals starting pitching right now is a disaster, and Matz proves it.
I am worried about the lineup mismatch, as the Cardinals have been spanking the baseball. However, there’s a 45-point differential between the two team’s BABIP (STL .325, SEA .280), so I’m hoping for some regression on both sides.
Seattle is also just due for a win, and I’m looking for them to bounce back after getting swept by the Brewers. Smashing Matz’s low-grade arsenal is a good way to get back on track.
St. Louis has a big bullpen advantage, so I’d rather stay away from the full game and just target Kirby on the F5 ML. There’s a Seattle F5 ML (-124) hanging at FanDuel, but anything south of (-130) will do.
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