I don’t want to jinx — this will definitely jinx it — but we’ve been very profitable in this space so far in 2023. We’re 9-4 on article plays and up 5.5 units after splitting a pair of bets on Thursday. Fortunately, the plus-money prop was the one that came through, which means we’ve been in the black on every article.
Can I see the future? No. I’m just a man with an MLBTV account and a calculator. Let’s dive into Friday’s slate.
Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays
Rays -1.5 (+125)
As much as it’s unfair to keep finding reasons to undercut the Rays’ 13-0 start, it’s fun to do, and it’s a little eerie how much they’ve had the schedule break in their favor. Tonight is another perfect example. For the first time in 2023, Tampa Bay will face a team not destined to finish last in their respective division. However, that team will be starting Jose Berrios — the man who possessed the highest qualified ERA in baseball last season (5.23). Things have not gotten better for Berrios in April, either. While his luck has been abysmal, the right-hander has surrendered 12 earned runs over 9.1 innings of work. Berrios is also sitting in the 14th percentile of pitchers in opponent hard hit rate (51.6%), so it’s hard to feel too bad about his .467 BABIP.
The Rays have a 162 wRC+ as a team entering play on Friday. Drew Rasmussen has conceded only three opponent hits over his first 13.0 innings of 2023. Heck, Tampa isn’t just undefeated, its a stunning 12-1 on the run line. There’s no reason to think the good times won’t keep rolling in Toronto this evening.
Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Steele Over 2.5 Walks (+130)
Back-to-back articles with a walk prop. What a time to be alive. For as good as Steele has looked to begin 2023 — and it in the second-half of 2022 — he’s still prone to issuing a free pass. In fact, over 188.0 career innings at the MLB level, the left-hander has walked 3.93 opponents per nine with an overall walk rate of 10.2%. Steele walked multiple batters in 15 of his 24 starts last season and, in his most recent outing, the left-hander handed out four walks over six innings against the Rangers. Needless to say, Steele isn’t exactly a master of the strike zone.
That’s an issue in general, but one that is certainly magnified when facing a team like the Dodgers. Los Angeles comes into Friday leading baseball by a considerable margin in walk rate (14.1%). Part of that is roster construction, the Dodgers employ established patient hitters like Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Max Muncy, but another aspect is an organizational focus on strike zone recognition. Los Angeles always ranks near the top of the league in lowest chase rate, and 2023 is no exception. The Dodgers simultaneously own baseball’s lowest swing rate (42.9%) and swing rate on pitches outside the zone (25.7%). It’s not a coincidence they walk as much as they do.
Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox
First 5: Orioles Over 2.5 Runs (+115)
To be blunt, the Orioles are absolutely on fire at the plate. After scoring another eight runs on Thursday, Baltimore comes into tonight’s tilt with the White Sox with a 120 wRC+ that ranks third in baseball. The Orioles are also one of only three teams with an ISO of at least .200 and, just for good measure, they lead the league in steals (19). They’re hitting for power and are picking up value on the base paths at an incredible rate. What more could you ask for?
Meanwhile, the White Sox’s biggest weakness in 2023 has been run prevention. Chicago’s staff owns a putrid 5.79 ERA — only the Tigers and the Athletics have a worse figure — and that underwhelming pitching is backed up by a team that currently sits 25th in defensive fWAR. On the surface, Mike Clevinger has actually been the White Sox’s only good pitcher aside from Dylan Cease, yet that success appears to be a mirage. Clevinger’s 8.49 xERA is nearly five runs higher than his ERA through 10.1 innings, due mostly to a 10.2% walk rate and a 0.47 GB/FB ratio. Clevinger’s due to blow up and I don’t think we’ll have to wait long.
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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.