MLB Picks and Predictions For Friday, May 19th
As is the case every Friday, we’ve got all 30 Major League Baseball teams in action on Friday. The Brewers and Cubs will start a weekend set from Wrigley Field in the lone afternoon affair of the day, with the other 14 contests set to go down under the lights.
There aren’t many starting pitching matchups that really jump off the page tonight, though there is an interesting one set to go down in Oakland with A’s righty Kendall Graveman going toe-to-toe with dominant Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale. They’ve been two of the best pitchers in the American League to this point, so we could have a low-scoring game out in the Bay Area.
We’ll get you prepped to bet on the action with our picks and predictions:
- Paolo Espino (MLB debut) vs. Eddie Butler (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Moneyline: Brewers +161, Cubs -175
We’ve got an interesting one at Wrigley Field on Friday, as the Cubs welcome the Brewers to town to start another NL Central series. Chicago just got done hosting the Reds and will hope to pop off just as much in this series, especially with Milwaukee’s recent hot run finding them competing for the top of the division.
The Brewers may not have much luck in this game, as they put a rookie arm on the mound and are banged up all across their lineup on the offensive side. Paolo Espino has at least looked strong in Triple A ball this year and the 30-year old righty will hope to keep the positive vibes going into this matchup.
That might be too much to ask out of a guy making his MLB debut, especially at Wrigley Field against a tuned up Chicago offense. Eddie Butler isn’t an unbeatable matchup for the Brewers on the other side, but Milwaukee’s hot run could hit a snag in this one. Bet the Cubs and the Over.
- Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.95 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (1-0, 2.89 ERA)
- Moneyline: Jays +112, Orioles -122
The Jays just got done mopping the floor with the Braves and will shift their focus to Baltimore, where they’ll battle the AL East rival Orioles. Toronto has been heating up lately (6-4 over their last 10 games) and could be a little more to handle than some would imagine.
Toronto will be hoping to pop off at the ever hittable Camden Yards, where they’ll get a pitcher in Chris Tillman who will be making just his third start of the year. Tillman was perfect in his first start but got knocked around in his last outing (8 hits, 3 runs). He’ll hope to keep Toronto more in check and last year’s 3.63 ERA against the Jays across four starts suggests he can.
We really can’t bank on Tillman fully being in a groove and shutting down Toronto, though. The Jays are rolling these days and are gaining confidence despite not having a healthy lineup. Even so, the real story will be Baltimore’s offense back on their home field, where they are set to take on Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez has been solid so far in 2017, but he’s been dealing with a finger issue and got exposed in this matchup earlier this year (7 hits, 5 runs).
Baltimore is at their best offensively at home and this feels like a good spot to confide in their bats. We’ll back the O’s and shoot for the Over.
- Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.41 ERA)
- Moneyline: Phillies -105, Pirates -105
The Phillies head to PNC Park to battle the Pirates on Friday, as Jeremy Hellickson and Trevor Williams will duke it out for a win. The Pirates are coming off of a big win over the Nationals on Thursday afternoon, while the Phils have dropped four straight and 8 of their last 10.
Philly is not in a groove right now and will again take it to the road, where they’ve gone 6-16 so far in 2017. There’s not a whole lot of room for optimism here, either, as their power could be limited in a pitcher’s park. As much as we’d love to suggest Trevor Williams could be picked on in this spot, he actually looked good in his last outing and could keep things under control in this matchup.
On the other side we have Hellboy, who has been serviceable this year, but has also gotten blasted a few times. He’s unlikely to get rocked in this setting, as the Pirates just had an uncharacteristic offensive explosion yesterday and this park is friendly to pitchers.
Neither of these teams are easy to trust right now, but the Pirates are at home and could be riding high after yesterday’s win. Hellickson could tame them, but he may not have the run support he needs given Philly’s road struggles.
- Nick Martinez (0-2, 5.04 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.34 ERA)
- Moneyline: Rangers +125, Tigers -135
The Texas Rangers look to keep rolling as the head to Detroit to begin a tough series with the Tigers on Friday. Texas has been unstoppable lately, as they’ve ripped off 9 straight wins and hope to continue threatening the Houston Astros (1st in the AL West).
Detroit is no slouch, either, as the Tigers recently got masher J.D. Martinez back into their lineup and have enough power to hang with anyone. This will be any interesting matchup, as we get two elite offenses and two shaky arms toeing the rubber.
The Tigers have the obvious edge at first glance, as Daniel Norris has been solid in some spots in 2017 and has done a fantastic job limiting the long ball (2 homers allowed all year). Norris does give up a lot of hard contact, but he manages games well and has kept himself from fully imploding in any matchup this season. That may not change against a Texas offense that has been awful (29th in batting average) against southpaws.
On the other side we have the beatable Nick Martinez, who relies on ground balls to manage games. Martinez does not possess a ton of K upside and has been getting rocked with the long ball (7 homers given up in 5 starts). Martinez also tends to pitch far better at home and could be in trouble with his nasty 7.94 road ERA being put on display in Detroit.
Texas is as dangerous as ever and we can’t deny how hot they are, but this road tilt (and series) might not be ideal. We like the Tigers and due to average pitching and explosive offenses, the Over is an easy call.
- Tyler Anderson (2-4, 6.43 ERA) vs. Lisalverto Bonilla (0-1, 4.85 ERA)
- Moneyline: Rockies -105, Reds -105
We could get an explosive series at Great American Ballpark starting on Friday, as the Colorado Rockies head to Cincinnati to take on the Reds. The Rockies just got done splitting a doubleheader with the Twins on Thursday, so they could have to deal with some fatigue as they battle a Reds team that just wrapped up a tough series at Wrigley Field.
Both of these teams boast monster power in a hitter’s park, so right off the bat we can expect a good amount of offense. That’s naturally going to make trusting either arm quite difficult, as Tyler Anderson has somehow been way worse (7.78 ERA) outside of Coors Field and Lisalverto Bonilla was not great in his first start of the year.
Anderson has the experience edge here, but neither pitcher really has an advantage. The Rockies have inexplicably been great (13-6) on the road this year, but the Reds fare quite well against lefties. Colorado could be a little tired after two games yesterday, too, so it makes sense to side with the Reds at home – at least in the first game of this series. Take the Reds and bet on the Over.
- Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 4.34 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (2-1, 4.07 ERA)
- Moneyline: Angels +140, Mets -150
After impressively sweeping the White Sox, the Angels got on plane and flew across the country to begin a three-game weekend series with the Mets in New York, The Mets, meanwhile, were just swept in a three-game series of their own out in Arizona as they continue to look for answers.
Ricky Nolasco will toe the rubber for the Halos. He’s been far from dominant, but he has found a way to stabilize himself after a rocky start to the season. One major red flag with him so far has been his tendency to give up homers. Nolasco has given up two homers in each of his last three starts and has now surrendered 13 dongs in 45.2 innings on the season. The Mets’ lineup is a bit watered down without Yoenis Cespedes, but they do have a couple of big-time power bats still there in Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto.
Jacob deGrom has rediscovered his strikeout form this season. After posting a career-worst strikeout rate of 23.7% last season, the long-haired righty’s gotten that number way up to an elite 32.4% to start 2017. Of course, he’s also giving up a career-worst hard contact rate of 36.7%, which helps explain why he hasn’t exactly been dominant so far. DeGrom has yielded at least three earned runs in each of his last five starts, though he has been far better at Citi Field. He has a 3.-6 ERA at home compared to a 4.65 mark in road games.
Nolasco has pitched decently, but the Mets should be able to hit a few balls over the fence against him. As long as deGrom can get around the white-hot Mike Trout, the Mets are in good position to right the ship and stop the bleeding.
- Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92 ERA)
- Moneyline: Yanks -122, Rays +112
This will already be the Yankees’ third trip to Tampa through the first two months of the season and the fourth head-to-head series between the AL East rivals. Luis Severino will take the ball for New York and will attempt to recreate what may have been his best start as a pro. Against the Rays back in April 13, the 23-year-old righty whiffed 11 batters in seven innings while allowing two runs on five hits. He’s been a stabilizing force in the NY rotation just about all year long, but he was knocked around in his last start by the ablaze Houston Astros. He didn’t make it out of the third, though New York eventually rallied to win, 11-6.
Erasmo Ramirez will be making another spot-start for Tampa. He’s pitched in 12 games so far this season, 11 of which have come in relief. In his lone start against the Tigers on April 20th, Ramirez picked up the win after limiting Detroit to a run on two hits in five innings of action. While he’s been solid so far this season for Tampa, one would imagine he won’t pitch deeper than five innings once again.
Both of these offenses have been on fire over the last week or so, which means we could be in for some fireworks at the Trop tonight. The Yanks have a clear edge on the mound with Severino going, though, so we’ll take the visitors.
- Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.47 ERA) vs. RA Dickey (3-3, 4.22 ERA)
- Moneyline: Nationals -147, Braves +137
Fresh off of a testy and costly four-game set with the Blue Jays, the Braves will be happy to welcome a new team to town tonight. Unfortunately, the team coming to Atlanta happens to be the class of the NL East. The Nationals have lost three of five coming into this series, though, including consecutive defeats against the Pirates.
Gio Gonzalez has been very strong for Washington so far this season, but he has been plagued a bit by a lack of control. Gonzalez’s 11.9% walk rate is ghastly, and he’s going to need to rein that in if the Nats are to trust him come playoff time. That said, he’s been excellent in terms of run prevention. In seven of his eight starts this season, Gonzalez has yielded two earned runs or fewer. He could be in for another strong outing tonight against an Atlanta lineup lacking the injured Freddie Freeman.
Dickey was one of three veterans the Braves added to the rotation this offseason, and he hasn’t been awful. Despite being 42 and with his prime days in the rearview mirror, Dickey has been giving Atlanta innings. He’s given up at least two runs in all of his starts, but no more than four, either. Dickey has also pitched into the sixth inning in all but one outing. He took the loss earlier this season in a game against these Nationals, though he did limit them to three earned runs in seven innings of work.
We’re not sure where Atlanta’s run production is going to come from with Freeman on the shelf. The rest of the lineup isn’t completely bereft, but Freeman is what ties it all together. Gonzalez should breeze in this spot.
- Trevor Bauer (3-4, 6.92 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (5-2, 3.97 ERA)
- Moneyline: Indians +128, Astros -138
Following a very successful road trip through New York and Miami during which they took six of seven games, the Astros return home tonight to face the defending AL champs at Minute Maid Park. The resurgent Charlie Morton will toe the rubber for Houston coming off of yet another stellar outing against the Yankees. Morton’s velocity has gone through the roof this year, and he was hitting 99 with movement on his two-seam fastball last time out. He’s always been one of the game’s elite ground ball pitchers, but Morton has added some solid strikeout numbers to his arsenal so far in ‘17. That said, this Indians lineup will arguably be the toughest he’s faced yet.
Trevor Bauer, on the other hand, has been his typically volatile self this season. The 26-year-old has some of the nastiest stuff in the league when he’s feeling it, but that typically doesn’t happen all that often. In most cases, he’s going to give up a handful of runs while pitching 5-6 innings. He surrendered four runs on six hits in six frames in a start in late April against these Astros up in Cleveland. Bauer has plenty of upside, but he’s still trying to find his footing this season.
Morton has been so good that we’re going to believe in him until the wheels come off. The peripherals don’t seem to indicate that’s happening any time soon, so we’ll back the red-hot Astros here.
- Nate Karns (2-2, 4.46 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (4-2, 3.80 ERA)
- Moneyline: Royals +112, Twins -122
What’s gotten into Nate Karns? All of a sudden, the veteran journeyman is pitching like an ace. He’s always had good strikeout stuff, but he’s struggled to consistently put everything together over the last few years. In his last three starts, though, he’s been on fire. Karns has whiffed 29 hitters in just his last 17.1 innings while allowing four earned runs against the White Sox, Rays and Orioles. Tonight’s matchup against the Twins is far from an easy one, but they do strike out 22.2% of the time against right-handed pitching. Karns might give up a homer or two, but the K upside should be there again tonight.
Hector Santiago was due for some regression, and it seemed to hit in his last start against the Indians. The lefty was chased by the Tribe after only 2.2 innings after he gave up six runs on seven hits, including a trio of longballs. His walk totals have had him flirting with disaster just about all year long, and the Indians were the team to finally make him pay. He’s in a strong spot to bounce back tonight, though, pitching at home against a weak Royals lineup.
The Royals make for a very interesting underdog play here. Given Karns’ current form, we’re leaning toward riding the hot hand.
- Matt Moore (2-4, 5.67 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (2-1, 3.19 ERA)
- Moneyline: Giants +135, Cardinals -145
Michael Wacha has looked like the top prospect he was just a few years back. He had a down year in 2016, but through six starts in 2017 he seems to be the best or second-best pitcher in the St. Louis rotation. He’s allowed more than two earned runs just twice so far and hasn’t pitched fewer than six innings in any outing. The Giants have been playing better of late, but this is still an extremely exploitable lineup in a stadium that favors pitchers.
Matt Moore is another pitcher who’s been all over the map this year. He was excellent after coming to San Francisco at the trade deadline last year, but he’s been far shakier this season. He’s allowed at least five earned runs in three starts already this season, though he did stifle the Reds in his most recent outing. The Cardinals’ lineup has really heated up over the last few weeks, but they have been one of the weaker lineups in the game against southpaws.
We just love the way Wacha has gone about his business of late, so we aren’t gonna bother attacking him. Give us STL.
- Chris Sale (4-2, 2.15 ERA) vs. Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.95 ERA)
- Moneyline: Red Sox -189, Athletics +178
The A’s and Red Sox will play the second game of their four-game weekend set from the East Bay tonight. Ace Chris Sale will take the mound for the BoSox riding a seven-game streak with 10 or more strikeouts. That, my friends, is insane. The matchup looks excellent for him tonight. The A’s strikeout the sixth-most against lefties this season (23.9%) and Oakland is an extreme pitcher’s park. He should have the strikeout pitch working once again tonight.
Kendall Graveman was a little rocky in his last start (four runs, nine hits), but on the season he’s been arguably the steadiest pitcher in the A’s rotation. He’s one of the best ground ball pitchers in the game, and the 48.4% ground ball rate backs that up. Graveman has had a good bit of success this season just throwing the sinker, and the strategy plays well in this ballpark.
This looks like it has the makings of a low-scoring affair. The Red Sox are the easy favorites, but Graveman could keep Oakland in it, which makes the A’s a sneaky moneyline play.
- Jose Quintana (2-5, 4.38 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (3-2, 4.79 ERA)
- Moneyline: White Sox -101, Mariners -109
Jose Quintana got off to a ragged start in 2017, but the southpaw has looked stronger of late. His last start against the Padres didn’t go particularly smoothly, but he limited the San Diego bats enough to lead the ChiSox to a 9-3 victory. The strikeout rate looks decent at 21.7%, but he’s struggling with walks (10.9%). The Mariners have a few hitters in the lineup that crush left-handed pitching, most notably Nelson Cruz and Danny Valencia.
The Mariners will counter with a lefty of their own in Ariel Miranda. He’s been rather hit-or-miss this season, and you can just look at his last three starts for proof. Against the Angels he pitched seven innings and allowed two runs. Then in his next start, the Phillies crushed him for eight runs on six hits in 3.1 innings. Then last time out against the Blue Jays, the Cuban pitched five innings and surrendered just a run on three hits with eight strikeouts. Which Ariel Miranda will show up tonight? Who knows. The White Sox have been excellent this season against left-handed pitching, as they currently rank fifth in the league in wOBA vs. LHP (.338).
Quintana is better than Miranda, but both offenses are capable of popping off in this spot. Seattle has the slight edge, but this game essentially feels like a toss-up. Whichever team winds up being the moneyline underdog is a fine bet.
- Justin Nicolino (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (4-0, 2.27 ERA)
- Moneyline: Marlins +205, Dodgers -222
Is Alex Wood for real? The Dodgers are known for having a certain other lefty atop the rotation, but Alex Wood has looked like a real ace this season. He’s essentially serving as a fill-in right now, but if he keeps this up he’ll stick in that LA rotation permanently. He’s looked dominant of late, and in 11 innings over his two most recent starts against Colorado and Pittsburgh he’s allowed just seven hits, no runs and has whiffed 21 batters. Against a punchless Marlins lineup in his home park tonight, Wood is justifiably one of the biggest favorites on the board.
Justin Nicolino has spent the last few seasons bouncing back-and-forth between the Marlins and the minors. He made his first big league start of ‘17 last weekend against the Braves and looked pretty good. He limited Atlanta to just a single run on six hits in six innings of work with five strikeouts. Historically, though, he’s not a guy that’ll miss many bats. Nicolino’s career K-rate at the Major League level is just 9.6%, which is incredibly low.
The Dodgers are known for struggling to hit lefties, but Nicolino is a below average southpaw. Wood delivers another strong showing tonight as the Dodgers cruise.
- Taijuan Walker (3-3, 3.91 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (0-4, 6.05 ERA)
- Moneyline: Diamondbacks -133, Padres +123
There’s no telling how much longer Jered Weaver will last in the Padres’ rotation. San Diego is certainly a team going nowhere this season, so it doesn’t really make sense for them to continue to give innings to a 34-year-old pitcher who obviously doesn’t factor into their long-term plans. They might as well see what they have in some younger arms. In the meantime, they’ll just keep throwing this punching bag out there every fifth day. Weaver has already surrendered 14 homers in 41.2 innings this season and the Padres have lost all eight of his starts. Weaver was certainly great once upon a time, but that’s well in the past.
The Diamondbacks will counter with 24-year-old righty Taijuan Walker. It hasn’t been there consistently for him this season, but Walker is starting to show some signs of being the high-upside arm the Mariners thought he could be when he was there. The strikeout rate north of 21% is solid, as is the ground ball rate of nearly 50%. The Padres’ lineup isn’t very imposing outside of a couple of power bats, so this is a nice spot for Walker tonight in a pitcher-friendly setting. It’s also worth noting that Walker dominated this San Diego lineup earlier this season when he struck out 11 in eight innings of work.
Everything about this game points to a victory for Arizona.