This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 0-3, -3 RWBucks
Season: 7-15, -6.07 RWBucks
Well, this is beginning to be humiliating.
This space will cover a lot of topics and take a lot of angles, but one thing it won't do is be a venue for complaining about beats. If there's a lesson to be learned from a loss or two, fine, we'll get into it. If not, I won't waste your time with sad stories. You don't ever want to sit next to that guy in the sportsbook, so there's no reason to make you read that stuff here. We move on, then, from the latest tough day and look ahead to a full Friday.
I first went to Las Vegas in 1992, the year I turned 21, for a Strat-O-Matic tournament. I was in awe of the place, and can still remember walking into the Mirage sportsbook for the first time. Despite growing up with sports betting all around me, I was pretty naive about it; because ties always lost on the parlay tickets I played as a...well, as a younger man...I assumed that was the case in Las Vegas as well. I threw out $22 I was entitled to, on some long-forgotten college football game, because I thought ties lost in Vegas, too.
After marrying and settling in L.A., my then-wife and I would travel to Las Vegas a few times a year. I always wanted to get out early Friday to be in town for a full evening of baseball, watching the 4 p.m. games and then betting the late ones while she and I went to a show or dinner or what have you. Gambling was not a part of my life except for these trips, and I wanted to get my money's worth, so even though I wasn't following baseball from a gambling angle, I would bet every game. This was the late 1990s, so it wasn't like you could bet a ton of props, it was just sides and totals. Some books even still had dry-erase boards with the odds and handwritten score updates. But I wanted action, even at $10 or $20 a bet, and I took full advantage.
One of my best friends from college was visiting us a few years later and showed me a website. After that, those trips to Vegas became a lot less critical.
Still, just having action can be fun, especially if you keep money management front and center. I very much enjoy baseball, any sports really, in a sportsbook setting, watching everything at once, and having a few bucks riding on every game is a cheap way to spend a fun Friday night.
So with that in mind, and feeling a need to shake things up in the midst of a 1-12 stretch, let's provide a pick for every game on the board save the Cubs' 2:20 start. Make sure you get your drink tickets!
7 p.m. Cardinals (Carlos Martinez)/Phillies (Zach Eflin) over 8 (-118). This one would have been on the card regardless. The Phillies wrapped three losses between two rainouts in New York this week, and come back to the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park 25th in wOBA. The Cards are 20th. (wOBA is "weighted on-base average," a FanGraphs stat for measuring offense.) The Phillies' underperformance on offense so far is hard to separate from the schedule: they've yet to play a game against a team I didn't have projected to make the playoffs. This number is too low given the two teams and the ballpark. 1.5 RWBucks.
7 p.m. Nationals (Max Scherzer) -2.5 over Diamondbacks (Taylor Widener) (+160). At DraftKings, you can more or less pick your line for most events. Tonight we'll take our first dip in that pool behind Max Scherzer, who has a 14-1 K/BB so far this season against a Diamondbacks squad that has been surprisingly good on offense so far: 12th in wOBA, thanks in part to an 11-run outburst last night. That's heavily weighted against lefties, though: the Snakes have a 200-point OPS split, hitting just .215/.295/.372 against right-handers. Scherzer is as tough a righty as there is, even at 36 .75 RWBucks.
7 p.m. Yankees (Michael King)/Rays (Michael Wacha) over 9.5 (-107). The good feelings the Michael Wacha experiment generated in March have faded in April, as the righty has a 7.00 ERA (albeit a 3.80 FIP) in two starts. The Yankees chased him after four innings last Sunday at the Trop. Injuries have taken a toll on the Rays' bullpen, a big factor in the team's struggles against the Rangers this week. Even on a cool night in the Bronx, we'll see some runs. .5 RWBucks.
7 p.m. Reds (Jeff Hoffman) team total over 4.5 (-105) (vs. Indians, Logan Allen). We'll introduce another new option here in the team total, which isn't available everywhere but is in many apps, including DK. Only the Dodgers have been better at the plate than the Reds, who get the Indians' fifth starter tonight at Great American Small Park ($1, Jeff Erickson). 1 RWBuck.
7 p.m. Giants (Anthony DeSclafani)/Marlins (Daniel Castano) under 8.5 (-110). The Marlins' outburst in Atlanta may be pushing this line up a half-run. However, these are two poor offensive teams playing in an excellent pitchers' park. Daniel Castano may only be in the Marlins rotation due to injuries, but he's a credible back-end starter who gets a good matchup here. 1 RWBuck.
7 p.m. Red Sox ( Nick Pivetta ) -112 over White Sox ( Dylan Cease ). Dylan Cease has his backers, and there's raw stuff there. However, there are simply no good pitchers in modern baseball with his strikeout and walk numbers: 9/6 K/BB in two starts this year is actually an improvement for him, but terrible in 2021. He'll eventually make a fine reliever. In the interim, I'll look for every chance to fade him, including against Nick Pivetta , a reclamation project and a better pitcher. 1 RWBuck.
*Editor's Note: Chicago vs. Boston has been postponed.
8 p.m. Orioles (Jorge Lopez)/Rangers (Mike Foltynewicz) under 9 (-121). This is the first game that would never have been under consideration if I wasn't listing a pick for every contest. The default for games at Globe Life is now the under, and there are maybe ten major-league hitters in these two lineups combined. .5 RWBucks.
8 p.m. Brewers (Adrian Houser) -155 over Pirates ( JT Brubaker). The Brewers, coming off an off day, will have the better team and the far better bullpen in this one. The Pirates have been friskier at the plate than expected, tenth in baseball in wOBA against right-handers, and Brubaker had some helium this spring. Still, -155 is a very small number given the overall quality of these two teams. 1 RWBuck.
8 p.m. Blue Jays (Steven Matz)/Royals (Mike Minor), to score in the first inning (+100). These two teams have top-heavy lineups and the Jays have good power. I'd probably want to see the listed lineups before locking this down, but at even money, with middling to poor starters, this is a solid prop bet. (It's also one of my favorites because you have almost perfect information going into it.) .5 RWBucks.
9:30 p.m. Angels (Andrew Heaney) -127 over Twins (Lewis Thorpe). Two teams that have been injury-riddled early on kick off the West Coast action Friday night. The Angels are down Anthony Rendon and Dexter Fowler, while the Twins are missing Andrelton Simmons, just got Josh Donaldson back, and are managing Byron Buxton on a day-to-day basis. Andrew Heaney has out-pitched his 7.00 ERA by a lot, and is a solid choice to shut down the Twins tonight. .5 RWBucks.
9:40 p.m. Tigers (Jose Urena)/Athletics (Frankie Montas) under 8.5 (-108). There can be a significant split in how the West Coast parks play day and night, with the ball not flying as well after the sun goes down. The risk here is the same as it was last night, when the Tigers walked the park in the middle innings to push the game over. .5 RWBucks.
10 p.m. Astros ( Jose Urquidy)/Mariners ( Yusei Kikuchi) under 8.0 (-112). It's a square play with the Astros down a bunch of players due to Covid testing/tracing, and the Mariners coming back after a doubleheader in Baltimore. .5 RWBucks.
10 p.m. Dodgers (Walker Buehler) -155 at Padres (Ryan Weathers). The game of the day is in San Diego, as two of the best teams in baseball play the first of 19 games against each other this season. Fernando Tatis Jr. may or may not be back for this one, though he's likely to return at some point during the season. Ryan Weathers is an interesting choice to start, as the Padres look to use every pitcher they have before starting MacKenzie Gore's career. I'll take the better team and the better starter, but after a night of betting, would recommend you just sit back and enjoy this one. .5 RWBucks.