MLB Betting: Friday Best Bets

MLB Betting: Friday Best Bets

This article is part of our MLB Betting series.

Previous day: 0-3, -4.5 RWBucks

Season: 20-34, -17.72 RWBucks (corrected)

Wow. That's 0-6, -8 over two days if you're scoring at home. (The overall mark has now been corrected to fix some math errors that slipped in over the course of April.)

I mentioned on the Newsletter Slack that it's definitely starting to wear on me. Not just the raw numbers, but the paths to them – I have been just flat-out wrong, to be sure, but I also have a definite imbalance on the margins, more shady losses than wins. Collecting the data for today's column was a bit traumatizing going back through the uglier defeats.

I know, intellectually, that we're 15% of the way into the season. I also can't deny that I'm getting publicly embarrassed in a new gig while losing a half-unit a day.

Four weeks into the season, let's see where the problems lay.

Sides: 6-17, -12.87 units (faves 3-7, dogs 2-10, pick 1-0).

The secret is obviously to only select pick'em games.

I have been wrong three out of four times, with no apparent pattern to the losses. My preseason pitcher evaluations have been beaten up a bit (no more Mitch Keller, thanks), for sure. I am factoring in bullpens with my picks, but still walking into a lot of blown leads late. I'm 2-0 going against the Braves, 0-3 betting on the Rangers, 0-2 against the Royals. I mention all that for color, none of it is actionable.

I'm surprised to see my favorite/underdog split, which looks worse when you add in an 0-4 record betting favorites on the run line. This is not my usual approach, to be on minus money as often as I have been. Finding underdogs with value should be a strength, has been a strength, if not this month. Looking at the picks chronologically, I started running away from underdogs as my overall losses piled up. I suspect this is a psychological leak, and definitely reparable.

Totals: 9-8, -2.04 units (overs 3-4, unders 6-4).

The first obvious mistake was getting scared off unders for a week or two after losing one to the extra-innings Calvinball rules. With the offensive environment as low as it's been in decades, thanks in part to a deadened baseball, there was a window for beating the books that is now closing, if not already closed. We'll see how this story develops, both for baseball and gambling purposes.

Given my predilections, I'm surprised to have only proffered seven overs in four weeks.  Even with the deadened ball, there will be opportunities.

Run Lines: 0-4, -3.75 units (faves 0-4).

Two of the four ended up with the team I was on winning 1-0. Combined, the four teams I was on scored six runs against four starters who are just not very good at all. Kind of throwing up my hands a bit here.

First five innings bets: 0-2, -1.5 units (dogs 0-1, unders 0-1).

Not enough here to say for sure. I do think we'll see more of these in the coming days.

Team Totals: 5-3, +2.44 units (overs 4-2, unders 1-1).

Two of the three losses were by the hook, one on a ninth-inning three-run homer. I mention that not to complain, but to make the point that this is the only thing I am doing right so far, and will probably try to do more of it. It may be the simplest bet you can make; I am just looking at half the game, one offense against the opposing pitching staff.

So some bad preseason evaluations, some bad calls, and some bad variance add up to a wretched start. Still, it's 17 units, and given a theoretical 100-unit bankroll, plenty of ammo with which to still have a plus season. Let's get to it.

Friday's Card

6:30 p.m. Cardinals (John Gant) +106 over Pirates (JT Brubaker)

The Pirates have wandered to a .500 record in the season's early going while being outscored by half a run a game. Brubaker has helped, with a 2.01 ERA in five starts, fed largely by an amazing 96% strand rate. The Cardinals are the better team at plus money and while not fully healthy – Yadier Molina is out – now at least have their starting outfield back. Bets "on the Cardinals" and "against the Pirates" are a combined 0-3. I don't care. 1 RWBuck.

As we head into May, we're going to be doing a lot of work finding the teams whose records don't match their underlying performance, in one direction or another.

7 p.m. Nationals (Jon Lester) +114 over Marlins (Pablo Lopez)

Speaking of which, my old Prospectus colleague Clay Davenport still tracks many of the numbers he created that formed the base of BP back in the day. I've been all over Pablo Lopez this year, but Clay's stats will tell you that the Nationals have played like a .528 team this year, the Marlins like a .435 one. The Marlins are playing without four of their Opening Day starters, including two of their few good hitters. 1.5 RWBucks.

7 p.m. Reds (Wade Miley) team total over 4.5 (-106) vs. Cubs (Jake Arrieta)

Rotowire's lineups page has a 14-mph wind blowing out at Great American Small Park ($1, Jeff Erickson) tonight, which made this a close call between the Reds' team total over and the game over. I'll stick with this one based on the gap between Arrieta's results so far, a 2.57 ERA in five starts, and the quality of contact he's giving up. Arrieta is below the league average, per Baseball Savant, in barrels and exit velocity allowed. However, he's allowed just a .260 BABIP and two homers on 34 fly balls. He goes up against a Reds team that is third in MLB in wOBA against right-handed pitchers in 2021, and top ten since the start of 2020. 1.5 RWBucks.

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Joe Sheehan
Joe Sheehan has been a contributing writer to RotoWire since its inception and can frequently be heard as a guest on RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM Radio. A founding member of Baseball Prospectus, Sheehan writes the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, at
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