This is about as ideal a slate as you could possibly ask for. All 30 teams are in action throughout the day and there’s not a single serious weather concern. Oh, and it’s Friday. Who doesn’t love when it’s Friday?
We’re 55-50 on article plays for the season. Here’s three bets I like this evening.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Reds ML (-115)
The game everyone’s been waiting for! Yeah, I know this isn’t exactly a matchup with a ton of stakes for October — or a lot of star power with Joey Votto recently shut down for the season — but I have a strong lean towards the Reds on Friday. To me, this pitching matchup is overwhelmingly in favor of Cincinnati. Consider Graham Ashcraft and his power sinker a name to watch heading into 2023. The strikeouts haven’t been there in his rookie campaign, yet his average fastball velocity of 97.1 mph sits sixth among starters with at least 80.0 innings; trailing only the likes of Hunter Greene, Spencer Strider, Gerrit Cole, Sandy Alcantara and Shohei Ohtani. That’s some pretty good company.
Ashcraft also owns reverse splits. Dramatic ones at that. While RHBs have found some success off of the right-hander, Ashcraft has held left-handed opponents to a .231 slugging percentage and a .228 wOBA for the season. Usually that would mean more in DFS than in betting on the moneyline — however, the Pirates are a particularly left-heavy roster. In fact, Pittsburgh has the second-most left-on-right plate appearances in all of baseball, which should play right into Ashcraft’s hand. The fact Bryse Wilson and his 6.79 ERA as a starter is Ashcraft’s opposition on the mound doesn’t hurt, either.
St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks
Team Total: Cardinals Over 4.5 (-135)
The Cardinals are red-hot right now. I don’t just mean because they happened to win 13-0 on Thursday, either. This is now a hot streak that encompasses three full weeks of action. Coming into tonight’s matchup with the Diamondbacks, St. Louis has the highest slugging percentage (.508), wOBA (.376) and wRC+ (147) of any team in the league so far in August. That’s quite amazing on its own, but things only get better when you remember the left-handed Tommy Henry is taking the bump for Arizona. For the season as a whole, the Cardinals sit first in OPS (.803) and wRC+ (128) against southpaws, too.
Let’s get back to Henry. This will be the fourth-career start for the 25-year-old, who came into 2022 as a fringe prospect in the Diamondbacks’ system. In fact, at Double-A in 2021, Henry pitched to an anemic 5.21 ERA and 5.29 FIP in his 23 starts. The results haven’t been much better at the MLB level, as Henry’s 5.14 FIP is the direct byproduct of an ugly 1.13 K/BB ratio. If he’s going to continue to hand out free passes, a lineup like St. Louis’ is going to make him pay in a large way.
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Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics
Marco Gonzales Under 18.5 Outs Recorded (-120)
If one were to classify Gonzales’ value in a rotation, it would certainly be as an “innings eater.” It’s not the most endearing term for a starter, yet it’s an optimistic way to view a 30-year-old southpaw with a 5.20 FIP going back to the beginning of 2021. Gonzales’ whole game is inducing soft contact. On the night’s he’s at his best, that means a low pitch count. On the night’s he’s not? Well, it usually doesn’t mean great results, and Gonzales hasn’t been at his best lately.
Across his past six outings, Gonzales is sporting a ghastly 6.69 ERA, as he’s surrendering 1.8 opponent home runs per nine. As you might expect, that’s effected his longevity, as the lefty has only exceeded 18 outs recorded in two of his last nine appearances. At the end of the day, Gonzales is Seattle’s No. 5 starter. The Mariners need all the wins they can get in a tight Wild Card race, their bullpen is fully rested after an off-day on Thursday and, crucially, the Athletics haven’t been a pushover since the All-Star break, posting a 105 wRC+ since the Midsummer Classic. I don’t think Gonzales’ leash is going to be very long this evening.
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