Opening Day was incredibly fun for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a semi-successful of gambling. We went 2-1 on article plays and are up 0.8 units for the season. Which reminds me, I’ll be tracking units in 2023. Who doesn’t love a little extra math in the morning, right? Just assume each bet I outline in these write-ups is a full-unit wager.
With that in mind, let’s dive into Friday’s five-game slate on the diamond.
Cleveland Guardians at Seattle Mariners
Julio Rodriguez Over 1.5 Total Bases (-105)
Hunter Gaddis was not supposed to be starting this game. This spot in Cleveland’s rotation was meant for Triston McKenzie, who was placed on the IL this past Thursday due to a shoulder issue. That’s bad news in general, but things look even more bleak when you take a quick glance at Gaddis’ MLB stats. It’s only a 7.1 inning sample, but what a sample it is. In that cup of coffee, Gaddis has managed to surrender a staggering seven opponent home runs along with nine opponent barrels. Yikes. It’s an ugly stretch that is obviously due to normalize with more big league reps, yet it’s indicative of a larger red flag in Gaddis’ game.
The right-hander is extremely fly ball prone. Again, a 0.27 GB/FB ratio isn’t sustainable; however, considering Gaddis posted ground ball rates of lower than 30% at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, I think it’s safe to assume launch angle suppression is not area where he thrives. That’s a dangerous way to live when facing Rodriguez. The sophomore didn’t collect a hit on Opening Day, but you know he’s licking his chops to get in the box against Gaddis. Last season, Rodriguez sat in the 92nd percentile or better in both average exit velocity (92.0) and hard hit rate (50.7%). A well-hit Rodriguez fly ball is an extra-base hit more often than not.
Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros
Cristian Javier Over 6.5 Strikeouts (+105)
I’m all-in on Javier in 2023. I legitimately think he has the potential to win the American League Cy Young and most of that promise is tied up in his ability to mitigate opponent contact. Javier was a strikeout machine last season, finishing the year with a 33.2% strikeout rate that tied Shohei Ohtani — pretty good company. In fact, thanks mostly to a devastating slider, Javier struck out an eye-popping 39.5% of the right-handed batters he faced across his 148.2 innings of work. Not surprisingly, that translated into the RHP hitting the over on this prop in 14 of his final 22 starts of the regular season.
Really, the main risk in this bet is simply the date. This will obviously be Javier’s first outing of 2023 and while he went 5.2 innings in his final Spring Training start, he only faced 19 batters that day. The Astros were also relatively safe with the 26-year-old last season, with Javier only throwing more than 100 pitches on two occasions. He certainly won’t go over that mark on Friday night. Still, at plus-money, I’m willing to bet on an efficient strikeout performance from the former top prospect.
New York Mets at Miami Marlins
First 5: Under 4 (-120)
Though Justin Verlander (shoulder) won’t be taking the mound for the Mets this evening, I still like this contest to be low-scoring. One of the benefits of a $350 million payroll is quality depth. David Peterson wouldn’t be an emergency starter for most teams in baseball, he’d already be in the rotation. The left-hander has struggled with his control in the big leagues, yet in 19 starts in 2022, Peterson posted a 3.24 xFIP with a 27.8% strikeout rate. We’re not talking about a replacement level pitcher here. Peterson is also left-handed, and while the Marlins did overhaul their lineup this winter, Miami was far and away the worst team in baseball against southpaws last season. The Marlins finished the year with a dismal 71 wRC+ within the split.
However, not everything about tonight’s matchup is underwhelming for Miami, as the team has Jesus Luzardo toeing the rubber. When Luzardo is healthy, he has the potential to be one of the best arms in the sport. It’s just that simple. In the second-half of 2022, the left-hander maintained a pristine 0.98 WHIP and 2.87 FIP over 71.1 innings. The hard-throwing LHP was also particularly effective his first two times through an opposing lineup last season, as evidenced by a 2.55 ERA. New York’s a dangerous team, but Luzardo should be able to hold them down at least through the first five frames.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.