MLB Picks for Friday April 28

by Taylor Smith
on April 28, 2017

We’ve got a full 15-game slate on tap for Friday around Major League Baseball. An ace-off in the nation’s capital between Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg appears to be the marquee matchup, but out west we have a pair of surprising NL West juggernauts set to go toe-to-toe, as well.

The Diamondbacks will host the Rockies later on in a game that should have no shortage of offense. Arizona comes into this one having scored more runs than any team in baseball, while Colorado ranks fifth in the same category. This should certainly be a game worth watching if you happen to like runs.

Anyway, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it with our picks, predictions and betting advice.

Baltimore Orioles (+1.5)
VS
New York Yankees (-1.5)
Total: 8
  • Jayson Aquino (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (2-1, 2.70 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Orioles +115, Yankees -125
Betting Value: The Orioles hold some value as an upset pick but we like the Yanks and the easiest play is the Over with two very potent offense facing off in a hitter’s park.

Fresh off of a AL East collision with the Red Sox, the Yanks return home to take on another division rival in the Orioles. Baltimore continues to hold down the top spot in the division, but New York could swap spots if they can take the O’s down in this series.

They’ll start that plight at Yankee Stadium with veteran southpaw C.C. Sabathia leading the way. Sabathia has been surprisingly strong for most of the year, but got slapped around (2 dongs, 4 runs) at PNC Park in his last start. He’ll certainly have a tough test in the hittable Yankee Stadium against a potent Orioles offense.

On the other side we have Aquino, who was passable in his lone start of the year, giving up six hits and two runs against a stellar Boston offense. He gets yet another stiff challenge, with Friday’s tilt coming on the road against a dangerous Yankees offense. New York has no history against the 24-year old southpaw, though, and rank just 22nd on the year at connecting versus left-handed pitching. That stat goes both ways, of course, as the Orioles are just 19th in batting average versus lefties.

It looks like two lethal offenses could be in equally tough spots in this one, but the Yanks are at home and have the more proven arm to lean on. I tend to favor the Yanks in this spot and also would roll with the Over just because there is so much upside with both lineups.

Pick

Yankees
6
Orioles
5
New York Mets (+1.5)
VS
Washington Nationals (-1.5)
Total: 7
  • Jacob deGrom (0-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 2.89 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Mets +158, Nationals -168
Betting Value: Lack of betting info to produce value here, but the Under and the Nats would make for viable bets in this spot.

There have been a lot of pitching changes at a high level lately, which has had a lot to do with weather issues delaying or postponing games, while health issues have also thrown a few wrenches into initial plans for a lot of teams.

The Mets and Nats have both been no stranger to such pitching concerns, and we should see a battle between deGrome and Strasburg because of it. The two will go head to head in a potential pitcher’s duel, kick-starting an intense divisional series for this weekend.

The Nats hold the early edge at home, as they’ve gotten off to a blistering start and boast the more reliable offense. Strasburg is quite the perk, too, as the 28-year old righty just welcomed his second child into the world and will be pitching with a clear head. It looks like he’s already been doing that, as he’s looked strong through four starts, keeping any team he’s faced from piling on more than three runs.

Strasburg should be fairly easy to get behind in a matchup he’s dominated recently, as he scorched the Nets (3-0, 1.83 ERA) across 19 frames in 2016. He’s looked specifically sharp again at home, so unless the Mets bring the power, he could have this one in control.

He does have a tough matchup on the other side, of course, as steady righty Jacob deGrom looks to match Stras throw for throw. deGrom will also be on the hunt for his first victory of the season, which is relatively shocking since he’s been pitching very well (23 Ks over his last two starts). The 28-year old should be able to keep it together in this one, but the matchup is daunting and he did struggle away from home last year (2-5, 4.16 ERA). Even the slightest error could open the door for a talented Nats lineup.

This makes for an intense series and the pitching is fantastic, so it makes sense to shoot for the Under. The pick really could go either way, but Strasburg and the Nats at home is about as good a bet as any.

Pick

Nats
3
Mets
2
Tampa Bay Rays (+1.5)
VS
Toronto Blue Jays (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Blake Snell (0-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (2-2, 3.10 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Rays +159, Jays -169
Betting Value: Tampa Bay provides the upset value but we actually like the Jays. The Under remains the most obvious bet in a game you may want to just avoid if you can help it.

Toronto could get a shot at a rare win on Friday night, when Marcus Stroman toes the rubber against the Rays. The Jays will be back home and could actually fire off a bit in this matchup, considering they’re a top-10 team so far this year against southpaws. The edge continues to lie with the Jays on the other side, as the Rays are merely a middle of the pack in 2017 against righties.

Stroman tends to manage games fairly well and that’s been his calling card again so far this year. He had one hiccup against the Red Sox, but fared well in this very matchup in his season debut, limiting the Rays to just one run across six innings of work.

Snell didn’t have so much luck the last time he took on Toronto, as he got donged once and gave way to four runs. Toronto’s offense certainly lacks bite and Snell does a solid job at keeping batters guessing, but he could be in a tough spot on the road. Snell has actually been borderline flawless across two road starts this year, but did not fare well outside of his own park a year ago.

The pitching edge lies with the more balanced Stroman, who just might get enough help from his bats to get his third win of the young season. The Jays are tough to trust and rarely fun to pick, but this might be a solid spot to do it (Rays are 2-8 on the road). We’ll take Toronto here but neither offense should blow up, so the Under is also a strong bet.

Pick

Jays
4
Rays
2
Chicago Cubs (-1.5)
VS
Boston Red Sox (+1.5)
Total: 8
  • Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Cubs -116, Red Sox +106
Betting Value: Boston is interesting as a home underdog but we like the Cubs and the Under due to the stout pitching.

MLB fans get a gem of a pitcher matchup at Fenway Park on Friday evening, as aces for both sides – Jake Arrieta and Drew Pomeranz – go to war. The Cubs come in with the obvious edge, as they boast a dangerous offense and will be forcing the superior arm onto the mound. That being said, Pomeranz has an elite offense backing him and has been fairly solid through three starts.

Arrieta has held it together far better early in 2017, but he’s also giving up the long ball quite a bit (5 dongs so far) and that may not be a recipe for success in a very hittable park. Boston has been up and down as a whole this year, but they’ve certainly been strong at home and can always pop off with a loaded lineup.

We have a very tough matchup to project, as both pitchers are capable of making batters miss and could go on a tear in such a high profile clash. The more volatile arm is without a doubt Pomeranz, while the Cubs also rank 3rd in the majors at connecting on southpaws.

Both offenses could easily blow up here, but the pitching matchup has us buying into the Under. Arrieta is the better arm and the Cubs have surprisingly blasted off (8-4) on the road this year. Look for them to show up and get a big road win in what should be a great showdown at Fenway Park.

Pick

Cubs
4
Red Sox
3
Seattle Mariners (+1.5)
VS
Cleveland Indians (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Ariel Miranda (1-2, 4.35 ERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 1.65 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Mariners +179, Indians -191
Betting Value: The Mariners are interesting road dogs but we don’t like their chances here and would rather favor The Tribe or the Under.

The Mariners will head to Cleveland to try to cure their road woes, while they also try to figure out a dialed in Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco has looked fantastic through four starts, dealing a nice number of Ks and also exhibiting stellar control. The 30-year old righty is in top form and should be in a nice spot at home, while he did provide passable numbers in this matchup (1-1, 3.46 ERA) across 13 frames in 2016.

It’s easy to get behind Carrasco in this one, as he’s really cooking with gas and he also has a potent offense backing him. The Tribe has remained one of the deadlier offensive attacks in baseball, and they could be ready to fire away on a pitcher in Miranda that relies on ground balls and control. Miranda has been fine to start 2017, but is giving up the deep ball (5 home runs allowed) and has never been overly reliable on the road.

Cleveland could easily turn up lame against a southpaw, but we’re backing Carrasco and the better offense at their home base. Take the Indians but with Seattle’s road woes, the Under might be the best play in relation to the Total.

Pick

Indians
5
Mariners
3
Chicago White Sox (+1.5)
VS
Detroit Tigers (-1.5)
Total: 9.5
  • Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Matt Boyd (2-1, 3.86 ERA)
  • Moneyline: White Sox +158, Tigers -156
Betting Value: Not much value here, save for the Over with neither pitching striking much fear into the opposition.

Two average arms go at it in Detroit on Friday night, as veteran Mike Pelfrey shoots for his first 2017 win against the Tigers. Southpaw Matt Boyd will be on the other side, trying to contain a White Sox offense that has come alive in recent days.

Normally Pelfrey would be an easy target in this spot, but the Tigers have been banged up throughout the order and aren’t as efficient offensively as they were a year ago. The Tigers do still sport some raw power, however, so if Big Pelf can’t induce ground balls early on, he could run into some serious trouble against one of his former squads.

Boyd can also deliver erratic results, but he’s flashed some upside and could have the edge at home against a White Sox team that normally doesn’t produce a ton of offense. That being said, Chicago has actually been very effective against left-handed pitching (3rd) this year and could give Boyd a hard time in this matchup.

The simple reality is neither pitcher is worth getting behind, so we’re betting on the Tigers waking up a bit at home. Their offense is superior due to their upside even as they stand and Pelfrey isn’t a difficult arm to figure out. This game might be best left avoided entirely, but if you’re targeting it, feel free to roll with the Tigers and bet the Over.

Pick

Tigers
7
White Sox
4
Los Angeles Angels (-1.5)
VS
Texas Rangers (+1.5)
Total: 9.5
  • Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 4.44 ERA) vs. Nick Martinez (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Angels -110, Rangers +100
Betting Value: Angels are favored on the road, so you can take Texas if you think Skaggs will struggle with the hitter-friendly park.

AJ Griffin was supposed to make this start for Texas, but he’ll instead make another rehab appearance in the minors as he continues to battle a gout flare-up. I don’t really know what gout is, but it sounds disgusting. Nick Martinez will get the call instead after a solid 2017 debut last weekend against the punchless Royals. He allowed just a run in seven innings in a narrow 2-1 Rangers victory.

It’s worth noting that Kansas City has the league’s worst offense so far, so we can take Martinez’s stellar effort with a massive grain of salt. Historically, he’s been a guy to pick on. He doesn’t have any strikeout upside whatsoever and this is an Angels lineup that doesn’t do much striking out themselves.

After a rough pair of starts, Tyler Skaggs has really turned it on recently. In 14 innings over consecutive starts against the Royals and Blue Jays, the lefty has allowed just a pair of runs on 11 hits with 13 strikeouts. He was a mega prospect before Tommy John surgery, and it’s looking like he’s finally starting to live up to that lofty potential.

Texas is a tough place to pitch, but the Halos have a clear edge on the mound in this one. The Rangers’ lineup has been struggling of late, and Skaggs is in a decent spot to put together another solid outing.

Pick

Angels
6
Rangers
3
Oakland Athletics (+1.5)
VS
Houston Astros (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (1-2, 4.29 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Athletics +141, Astros -151
Betting Value: Nothing to see here.

Jharel Cotton’s 2017 has gotten off uneven starts. He gave up a combined 10 runs in his starts against the Angels and Rangers, but also shut down the Royals and Mariners to the tune of just two earned runs in 13 innings. He’s walked 11 hitters in 22.2 innings on the year, so that’s something he’ll have to harness in order to truly take the next step in the future.

Charlie Morton will take the ball for Houston in this one. He’s gone exactly five innings in three straight outings, and he was roughed up by the Rays in his most recent game. His velocity has somewhat surprisingly been consistently in the mid-90s for most of the season, and thus far he’s done a solid job of keeping the ball on the ground.

It’s tough to know what to expect here. The Astros certainly boast the most potent lineup, though they’ve struggled to put it all together with the bats this season at Minute Maid Park. Morton has pitched well at home, though, and he should be able to hold his own against an A’s lineup that lacks serious thunder outside of Khris Davis.

Pick

Astros
5
Athletics
3
Atlanta Braves (+1.5)
VS
Milwaukee Brewers (-1.5)
Total: 9
  • Bartolo Colon (1-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (2-0, 1.13 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Braves +107, Brewers -117
Betting Value: Very little value to be found.

Big Bart Colon is coming off a fairly ragged start against the Phillies during which he was hit up for 11 knocks and four runs over the course of seven frames. Tonight, he’ll be going up against a Brewers team that has been mashing the baseball throughout April, especially at Miller Park. Colon has a way of skating along through games despite throwing essentially nothing but fastballs, but he could be in for another tough night against a Milwaukee club that has already smacked 29 dingers off of right-handers this season.

The Brewers will put Chase Anderson on the hill, and the 29-year-old has been quite impressive out of the gates. He shut out the Cards over six innings in his most recent start and hasn’t surrendered more than two earned runs in any of his four appearances yet. Considering he’s never flashed this kind of form at the big league level in the past, there’s a chance he could be in for some regression before long. The peripherals check out, but we’ll have to see a larger sample before we’re going to start thinking Anderson is suddenly ace material.

Anderson does have a history as a reverse-splits pitcher, and the Mets don’t have many right-handed bats outside of Yoenis Cespedes that really strike fear into anybody. Give us the Brewers to keep pounding the ball against Colon here.

Pick

Brewers
6
Braves
3
Minnesota Twins (+1.5)
VS
Kansas City Royals (-1.5)
Total: 8
  • Kyle Gibson (0-3, 9.00 ERA) vs. Ian Kennedy (0-2, 2.08 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Twins +120, Royals -130
Betting Value: Sneaky spot for the Under.

Kyle Gibson was stellar back in 2015 when he posted a tidy 3.84 ERA across 32 starts. Since then, though, consistency has been quite troublesome for him. He had a 5.07 ERA in his 25 starts last season, and his first four outings of 2017 haven’t been much to write home about. He hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any game yet, and lasted just 2.2 frames in his most recent start against the Tigers when he coughed up seven runs on eight hits.

The Royals will counter Gibson with Ian Kennedy, who just seems to keep chugging right along. He’s coming off a very strong showing down in Texas in which he limited the Rangers to a run on four hits across seven innings. Kennedy has pitched well all year for KC, but he hasn’t gotten any run support. The inept Royals’ offense has given him just three runs of support in the four games in which he’s pitched. That’s almost inconceivably bad.

If the Royals can’t put some runs across against a struggling Gibson, then they may be truly hopeless. Kennedy’s worst outing of the young season did come against these Twins, but we like him in the more pitcher-friendly confines of Kauffman Stadium tonight. If KC can actually score runs, they’re in a solid spot.

Pick

Royals
4
Twins
3
Cincinnati Reds (+1.5)
VS
St. Louis Cardinals (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Tim Adleman (0-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (2-1, 2.70 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Reds +152, Cardinals -162
Betting Value: Not much to see here.

The Cardinals will play their third game in the span of 24 hours after hosting a double-header with the Blue Jays on Thursday. The Reds, fresh off a high-scoring series with the Brew Crew, will head to Busch Stadium for the first time this season. Cincy’s Tim Adleman will square-off with fellow right-hander Lance Lynn.

Adleman was solid in his last start, limiting the powerful Cubs’ offense two just a pair of runs on four hits in six innings of action. He’s been called into duty with the Reds’ rotation having undergone a series of injury problems, but so far he has held his own fairly well. Adleman isn’t a gas can, but he’s also not exactly the most fearsome presence on the mound, either.

Lance Lynn has looked very strong in his first season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Excluding a start in which he was roughed up by the Nationals, Lynn hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his other three outings, including a three-hit, one-run effort against a potent Milwaukee offense last time out.

The Reds have been hitting the ball well, but Busch tends to favor pitchers and we like Lynn’s current form. Take STL here.

Pick

Cardinals
5
Reds
3
Colorado Rockies (+1.5)
VS
Arizona Diamondbacks (-1.5)
Total: 10
  • Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.32 ERA) vs. Robbie Ray (2-0, 3.42 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Rockies +133, Diamondbacks -143
Betting Value: Rockies? D-Backs? Chase Field? Yeah, take the Over.

This is going to be a fun series. Two of the most explosive offenses in the big leagues get together in the desert for the first time. Colorado will throw talented young lefty Kyle Freeland, while Arizona will counter with another talented young left-hander in Robbie Ray in Friday’s series opener.

Ray was knocked around a bit by the Dodgers in his most recent outing, but on the season as a whole he’s been strong. Walks have been problematic (13.9% walk rate), but he’s also striking everybody out. Ray’s strikeout rate of nearly 30% is one of the best marks in the league, and he’s showing that last season’s K explosion was no fluke. He can be vulnerable against right-handed bats, but Ray stifles lefties.

Freeland has been phenomenal in keeping the ball on the ground (66.2 GB%), which is a necessary skill for any pitcher pitching half of his games at Coors Field. That should come in handy tonight in homer-happy Chase Field, as well. Regardless of the fact we have two solid pitchers on the mound, this feels like a game that’ll have plenty of fireworks.

Take the over, and give Arizona the edge with the slightly more polished arm on the hill.

Pick

Diamondbacks
7
Rockies
5
Philadelphia Phillies (+1.5)
VS
Los Angeles Dodgers (-1.5)
Total: 7.5
  • Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Phillies +177, Dodgers -188
Betting Value: Phils are an excellent value underdog play on the moneyline.

The Dodgers are back at Dodger Stadium tonight on the heels of a tough road trip that took them through Arizona and San Francisco. They’ll play host to the Phillies in a three-game weekend set starting tonight. Kenta Maeda will try to get himself back on track against young right-hander Zach Eflin for Philadelphia.

Eflin has looked sharp for the Phils in two outings this year. The 23-year-old held the Mets to just two runs on three hits in five innings in his first start before stifling the Braves (one run, three hits, seven innings) in his most recent game. The Dodgers have fared better against right-handers than lefties over the last two seasons, but they haven’t exactly been hitting the cover off the ball lately.

Maeda had this start pushed back in order to get the kinks out of his mechanics. He hasn’t looked at all like the settling hand he was in the middle of LA’s rotation last season. Maeda has coughed up 17 runs through his four outings, though it’s worth noting that two of those starts came at Coors Field and Chase Field. Still, seven homers allowed through four games isn’t going to cut it.

The Phillies have some sneaky pop, and they’re a very intriguing underdog play here against a pitcher that’s been struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark.

Pick

Phillies
5
Dodgers
4
San Diego Padres (+1.5)
VS
San Francisco Giants (-1.5)
Total: 7.5
  • Luis Perdomo (0-0, 6.97 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (0-4, 7.40 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Padres +146, Giants -156
Betting Value: Padres look decent on the moneyline against the struggling Samardzija.

The Giants desperately need Jeff Samardzija to start flashing some form, and this may be the spot for him to do it. The big right-hander has been one of the worst starters in baseball this season, as he owns a record of 0-4 in four starts and has surrendered 20 earned runs in just 24.1 innings. Samardzija’s strikeout numbers have been strong, but that’s literally the only thing he’s done well so far.

The SF bats will take their hacks against Luis Perdomo, who has been an elite ground ball pitcher during his brief big league career. After inducing a ground ball rate of 59 percent as a rookie last season, the righty has a 66.7 GB% through two starts this season. That’s obviously a very limited sample size, but he has a way of surviving as a result.

To be fair to Samardzija, two of his starts came against Arizona, and the other two came against Colorado. Those are two of the best hitting teams in all of baseball. This outing against the Padres should serve as a nice bounce-back spot for him. We don’t trust the Giants’ depleted lineup to do major damage against Perdomo, but San Francisco picks up a win here at home.

Pick

Giants
4
Padres
2
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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