MLB Picks and Predictions for Friday May 5th

by Taylor Smith
on May 5, 2017

Friday brings us a full 15-game Major League Baseball slate. The Cubs and Yankees will get together in a potentially high-octane interleague affair to kick things off before 14 games roll around in the evening.

Houston’s Dallas Keuchel headlines the group of pitchers set to take the hill tonight, though there aren’t many other aces toeing the rubber. That could mean we’ll see no shortage of offense here tonight.

How should you approach tonight’s schedule from a bettor’s perspective? We’ll break it all down in Friday’s free MLB picks:

New York Yankees (+1.5)
Chicago Cubs (-1.5)
Total: 6.5
  • Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.18 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Yankees +114, Cubs -124
Betting Value: The Yanks hold the value as the road dog, but there otherwise is nothing to see here.

MLB fans get a fun inter-league scrum at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, as the Yankees and Cubs face off for the only early game of the day. Famous gascan Michael Pineda will try to stay away from the flames of a troubling Cubs offense, while Kyle Hendricks will continue to try to lean the safety of pitching at home.

Wrigley was a safe haven for Hendricks a season ago (9-2, 1.32 ERA), but the 27-year old righty has been at his very worst there (0-1, 6.30 ERA) this year. Conventional wisdom suggests taking on a stacked (and white hot) Yankees lineup won’t make his recent home woes go away.

Lucky for Hendricks the ever volatile Pineda will be toeing the rubber on the other side. Hendricks does not have a clear edge in this matchup with the Yanks performing well on the road and raking versus righties (3rd in BA), but he can hold out hope that his offense slays Pineda.

That’s not a reach on the surface, as Pineda has gotten slapped around a couple of times this year already and is always good for a crater job. Putting Pineda on the road against the Cubs makes that an even likelier possibility. That being said, Pineda has certainly held strong lately, with a gem delivered recently against a dangerous Orioles team (5 hits, 0 runs in 5 innings).

Pineda is the more talented arm and New York’s bats should mash Hendricks, but he’s also volatile as it gets and could very well implode on the road in this one. We’ll back the Cubs in what should be a great day game.


San Francisco Giants (+1.5)
Cincinnati Reds (-1.5)
Total: 9
  • Matt Cain (2-0, 2.30 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 7.20 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Giants -107, Reds -103
Betting Value: The only play here is the Over due to the trash pitching.

A dumpster fire could take form at the Great American Ballpark on Friday night, as Giants and Reds fans will show up for two shaky arms in Matt Cain and Bronson Arroyo. The 40-year old Arroyo is a near lock to implode yet again in the ever hittable Great American Ballpark, while Cain’s solid but fraudulent start could start to lose its luster against a potent Reds lineup.

Cain has held it together early in 2017, but he’s had a few easy matchups and could unravel at anytime. On the road against a powerful Reds offense feels like as good a time as any, while he might not be bailed out by a lethargic Giants offense even if he does spin some good yarn.

Arroyo can’t be defended. He doesn’t have K upside at this point in his career and is having major issues, whether it be the long ball (6 homers given up already), walks or simple contact. He could be in his best spot yet against a San Francisco team that struggles to put up runs, but this also could be their cue to fire away.

Ultimately this is just a bad game to target with shaky pitching, but Cain has been in solid form and Arroyo is a mess. The Over is a fair try here, while logic suggests the Giants should have a clear path to a win.


Chicago White Sox (+1.5)
Baltimore Orioles (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Miguel Gonzalez (3-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (1-1, 2.32 ERA)
  • Moneyline: White Sox +143, Orioles -153
Betting Value: Chicago offers the value but they’re in a tough spot at Baltimore, so roll with the O’s or shoot for the Over.

Two surprisingly solid pitchers face off at Camden Yards tonight, when Miguel Gonzalez leads his White Sox up against Wade Miley and the Orioles. Gonzalez has been fairly stable so far in 2017, but got absolutely blasted in his last outing (14 hits, 7 runs) and could be in trouble on the road against a stacked Baltimore lineup.

Miley has been far better overall and is displaying his trademark K upside while somehow limiting hard contact. The bottom could drop out on Miley at anytime, but it’s unlikely to happen here against a Chicago team that is not very efficient and has sporadic power.

It’s tough to really confidently get behind either arm here, so maybe we don’t have to. Instead, we can just roll with Baltimore’s offense, which has played a big role in their stut 8-3 home record. Look for them to keep it going even though they’re just a middle of the pack unit against right-handed pitching.


White Sox
Washington Nationals (+1.5)
Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5)
Total: 8
  • Stephen Strasburg (2-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. Nate Pivetta (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Nationals -175, Phillies +165
Betting Value: The Phillies are a fun home dog but the Nats are on fire and Stras is a tough out. Bet the Over instead.

The Nats toss ace Stephen Strasburg onto the mound on Friday, as he’ll battle the Phillies on the road against Nate Pivetta. It’s a tasty matchup on paper for the flamethrowing righty, as the Phillies rank 24th in homers off of right-handed pitchers. They can connect on righties, but if Strasburg can keep their power contained, he figures to be in line for an easy win.

That will likely be the case even if he’s not in top form, as Nate Pivetta isn’t a huge threat against an eternally stacked Nationals offense. Washington has been lights out for pretty much the entire year and hasn’t tripped up much on the road (10-3) this season. Pivetta hasn’t had much of a chance to prove he can rise up and take on this challenge (just one start), but it’s tough to back him against this offense.

The likely scenario is Strasburg wrecking and the Nats offense following suit. Washington can always hit the Over on their own, so that’s very much in play and we’re riding the Nats for the win.


Milwaukee Brewers (+1.5)
Pittsburgh Pirates (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 5.34 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.26 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Brewers +121, Pirates -131
Betting Value: Milwaukee is a fun road dog but the Over remains the best play in this matchup.

Jimmy Nelson will pick up a road start at PNC Park, where he’ll be hoping to handle a Pirates team that he’s had solid success against (5-3, 3.51 ERA) over the last three years. Nelson did get tattooed in his last outing this year (11 hits, 5 runs), however, while he’s never been a stalwart on the road.

There is obviously reason to doubt Nelson can deliver in this road tilt, while he could have another problem in Chad Kuhl on the other side. Kuhl had been looking sharp for most of 2017 before getting shredded in his last two starts (15 hits, 11 runs). He’ll hope to bounce back at home against a Brewers offense he held in check a year ago (1-0, 2.19 ERA). it’s worth noting the Brew Crew has shown they can pop off at any moment, of course, while Kuhl is sporting a nasty 14..85 ERA at home this year.

Kuhl’s numbers are impacted by one awful outing, so we wouldn’t take them to heart. Instead, he looks to be in a solid enough spot against a Brewers lineup that strikes out a ton and hasn’t fared well against Kuhl in the past. Milwaukee can open up a can in any matchup, (1st in home runs against righties), but they’re not very efficient. They should score a bit to help reach the Over, but we like the Pirates to snag the home win.


Miami Marlins (+1.5)
New York Mets (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Rafael Montero (0-2, 9.45 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Marlins +114, Mets -124
Betting Value: Bullpen game for the Mets could signal an Over is in store.

Tom Koehler is essentially the National League version of fellow Floridian Matt Andriese. He’s not a bad pitcher, he’s not a great pitcher, he’s pretty much a slightly above league average pitcher. He’s really struggled to start this season, and he’s gone just four innings in two of his last three starts. Since allowing just a run to the Nationals in his first outing, Koehler has surrendered at least three earned runs in each of his last four starts.

With Noah Syndergaard on the shelf, the Mets will be forced to turn to Rafael Montero tonight. He’s pitched in six games out of the bullpen thus far this season, but he did make three starts last season as the Mets also dealt with injury problems to the starting staff. Montero has decent swing-and-miss stuff, but he walks far too many and he’s given up a ton of hard contact over each of the last two years.

The Marlins lineup isn’t exactly a murderer’s row, but they do have some mashers that can take full advantage of Montero’s wildness. The Mets have been hot with the bats in recent days, but we like Miami to capitalize on New York’s vulnerable starter.


Toronto Blue Jays (+1.5)
Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5)
Total: 7.5
  • Francisco Liriano (2-2, 3.97 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (2-1, 3.43 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Blue Jays +130, Rays -140
Betting Value: Leaning Over, but it’s fairly unpredictable.

This will already be the second time Francisco Liriano has started a game in Tampa in the season’s early stages. To say the first one didn’t go well would be the understatement of a lifetime. The mercurial lefty was absolutely horrid that night, and he was pulled after just ⅓ of an inning after giving up five runs on three hits with four walks. It was legitimately one of the worst starting pitching performances we’ve seen in some time. Liriano has been considerably better since then, and in his last start he held the same Rays team to just a run on four hits in five innings.

The Rays’ ace, Chris Archer, will take the mound opposite Liriano. He’s also faced the Jays two times already in 2017, and he’s been excellent. In 15 innings, Archer has allowed nine hits and three runs while striking out 13. Walks remain a problem for him, but he’s given up just three homers in six starts after allowing 30 in 33 last year.

Liriano will (probably) last longer than ⅓ of an inning in this one, but we aren’t betting against Archer at home against an offense as weak as Toronto’s. Take Tampa.


Blue Jays
St. Louis Cardinals (+1.5)
Atlanta Braves (-1.5)
Total: 8.5
  • Lance Lynn (3-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.81 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Cardinals -123, Braves +113
Betting Value: Braves at home are a fine try on the moneyline.

It hasn’t taken Lance Lynn very long to look a lot like his old, pre-Tommy John self. After missing all of last season, the right-hander has been excellent over his last three starts. In his last 20 innings, Lynn has allowed 12 hits and just two earned runs against the Reds, Brewers and Pirates. He’s struck out a solid 20.8% of hitters he’s faced to start 2017, though the hard contact rate is up a bit.

He’ll have to square off against a Braves team throwing fireballing righty Mike Foltynewicz to the mound. Despite his 0-3 record, Folty has pitched pretty well overall. The 25-year-old hasn’t surrendered more than two earned runs in any of his five outings thus far, though the Braves are 0-5 in games he’s started. Folty boasts a solid strikeout rate of about 21% and hasn’t given up much hard contact at all.

We’re certainly not used to games in Atlanta being hitter-friendly, but the ball has been jumping in SunTrust Park thus far. Still, this one has the makings of a pitcher’s duel. Neither team’s offense is particularly explosive, but we could see a few homers flying out of the yard here and there. We’ll give a slight edge to the Braves at home, where they’re 5-5 to start the year.


Boston Red Sox (+1.5)
Minnesota Twins (-1.5)
Total: 9
  • Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (4-1, 5.06 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Red Sox -122, Twins +112
Betting Value: Minnesota isn’t an awful home dog, but there isn’t much value.

Phil Hughes is another pitcher whose record doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s won four of his five starts thus far, but he can thank the Twins’ potent offense for the most part. Minnesota has plated 28 runs in Hughes’ five outings. While he hasn’t been completely atrocious, Hughes has surrendered four runs in three of his five starts, as well.

Eduardo Rodriguez has pitched well as an unsung member of the Boston starting rotation. Over his last two starts against the Orioles and Cubs, the lefty has given up just a single earned run on six hits across 12 frames of action. He’s also racked up 16 strikeouts in that span, and that 32.6% K-rate will obviously see some pretty substantial regression in the coming weeks.

As mentioned above, the Twins’ offense has been dynamic this season. However, they haven’t had a whole lot of success against lefties. As a team, Minnesota has just a .292 wOBA and they’re hitting .229 against southpaws. The Red Sox haven’t as been an explosive an offense as many thought they’d be, but they have a much better chance at success against Hughes than vice versa in this one.


Red Sox
Cleveland Indians (+1.5)
Kansas City Royals (-1.5)
Total: 8
  • Josh Tomlin (2-3, 8.87 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (0-3, 6.65 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Cleveland -180, Kansas City +155
Betting Value: Nothing to see here. Move along

Josh Tomlin was a very serviceable arm for the Tribe throughout their playoff run last season, but, my goodness, he’s been atrocious to start 2017. He’s given up at least three earned runs in all five of his starts thus far, and no fewer than seven hits in any outing, either. He’s done a decent job of limiting homers and walks, but hitters are mashing against him with a hard contact rate of 37.5% so far. Fortunately, he’ll get to face a Royals offense in this one that is beyond anemic. Anemic would actually be a compliment to KC’s offense this season.

Jason Hammel has been an okay pitcher for most of his career, but he needs to rein in the walks if he plans on putting together another solid campaign. Hammel has walked 12% of hitters he’s faced to begin his first season in KC, and he’s walked multiple batters in four of his five outings. He’s lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts in which he was bombed by the Rangers and Twins, respectively. At 34, there’s a decent chance Hammel is washed.

The Indians have a massive advantage with the bats in this one, which makes us lean toward Cleveland, even on the road. Hammel has struggled despite not having faced an offense even close to as potent as this Indians group. Tomlin’s been bad, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest he’s capable of putting together a quality start against the Royals.


Arizona Diamondbacks (+1.5)
Colorado Rockies (-1.5)
Total: 10.5
  • Zack Greinke (2-2, 3.19 ERA) vs. Tyler Anderson (1-3, 7.71 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Diamondbacks +105, Rockies -115
Betting Value: Coors has been wacky this season, but the Over still looks strong.

Two of the league’s biggest surprises met down in the desert last weekend, with the Rockies taking two of three from the Diamondbacks. Arizona will now seek revenge when they head to Denver for three games starting Friday night. Tyler Anderson will take the mound for the Rockies opposite Zack Greinke for the D-Backs.

Greinke has been solid this season. He’s gone at least six innings in each of his last three starts, though he still doesn’t look like the guy that was one of the league’s best pitchers during his time with the Dodgers. Shifting to hitter-friendly Chase Field has been problematic for him, and now he’ll have to deal with an even more unfavorable park for pitchers tonight at Coors Field. Over the last three seasons, Greinke is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA at Coors.

After a hugely successful rookie campaign, Anderson is still trying to find a rhythm in 2017. He’s, frankly, been atrocious. Through six starts, he’s allowed at least four earned runs in all of them and hasn’t even made it out of the sixth inning. Anderson is allowing an unacceptably high hard contact rate of nearly 36% and he’s already coughed up nine longballs. That’s not getting the job done. Three of those homers came in his last start down in Phoenix, when Anderson gave up six runs on seven hits and earned a no-decision.

The Diamondbacks have a healthy advantage on the mound, but that tends to matter less in games in this ballpark. Still, Anderson has been so atrocious that we’ll need to see him start to turn things around before we can back Colorado in his starts. Give us the D-Backs on the road in a high-scoring affair.


Detroit Tigers (+1.5)
Oakland Athletics (-1.5)
Total: 7.5
  • Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 6.18 ERA) vs. Andrew Triggs (4-1, 1.84 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Tigers +104, Athletics -114
Betting Value: A’s could hit the Over on their own here.

Jordan Zimmermann somehow has a 3-1 record this season, but it doesn’t take much to realize that’s fool’s gold. His ERA is a bloated 6.18, hitters are hitting .318 against him and his FIP is an ugly 5.43. Zimmermann’s K-rate is an awful 13% and he’s allowing an insane contact rate of nearly 44%. Literally every metric other than wins tells us that he has been terrible this season. #KillTheWin.

The A’s will counter the Tigers’ bad righty with a good righty of their own. Andrew Triggs and his funky delivery have been fooling hitters ever since he was inserted into the rotation late last year. He hardly allows any hard contact and he has a K-rate of about 21% since joining the starting staff in 2016. Triggs has been tough on hitters from both sides of the plate, and all six of his earned runs this season came in one bad start against Seattle. That’s rather remarkable.

Given the massive discrepancy in starting pitchers in this one, we’re going to side with Oakland. We’re dubious that Triggs is suddenly a major league ace at 28-years-old, but he’s tough on hitters that haven’t faced him before. Oakland is in a strong spot with the bats against Zimmermann.


Houston Astros (-1.5)
Los Angeles Angels (+1.5)
Total: 6.5
  • Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21 ERA) vs. Jesse Chavez (2-4, 4.50 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Houston -130, Los Angeles +110
Betting Value: LA isn’t a bad home dog, but there isn’t much value.

Fresh off of winning the American League’s Pitcher of the Month Award for April, Astros’ lefty Dallas Keuchel will look to keep the momentum rolling into May tonight in Anaheim. Keuchel is looking every bit like the player that took home the Cy Young Award two seasons ago. He’s inducing tons of weak contact grounders and rarely finds himself in much trouble. Keuchel has allowed more than one earned run in just one of his first six starts. Against these Angels a few weeks ago, he allowed eight hits in seven innings, but just one run in a 5-1 Houston victory.

Jesse Chavez isn’t flashy, but he’s quietly been one of the more steady arms in the Halos’ rotation this season. He’s gone fewer than six innings in a start just once, and surrendered just a single earned run in seven innings in a 3-0 defeat in Houston back on April 17th. Chavez was roughed up a bit in his most recent outing in Texas, but he’s curiously been worse at home than on the road to start ‘17.

No reason to really overthink this. The Angels have an underrated offense, but Keuchel is Keuchel. He hasn’t historically been as dominant away from Minute Maid Park, but we’ll take our chances with him here.


Texas Rangers (+1.5)
Seattle Mariners (-1.5)
Total: 7.5
  • Yu Darvish (3-2, 3.03 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-3, 5.08 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Rangers -130, Mariners +120
Betting Value: Not much to see here.

After a rough series in Houston, the Rangers will lick their wounds and try to rebound up in Seattle for the weekend. This is already the second trip Texas has made to the Pacific Northwest on the young season after being swept in a three-game set up there in April.

Yu Darvish will try to get the Rangers back on track. He’s had some big strikeout games already this season, and he’s surrendered two earned runs or fewer in four of his six outings. Walks have been somewhat problematic for him, but if Texas has any plans of getting back into the race this season they’re going to need Darvish to pitch like one of the best pitchers in the AL. Over the last three years against the Mariners, the big right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA.

Yovani Gallardo isn’t very good anymore, but at least he eats innings. The Former Ranger has gone at least five innings in all five of his starts so far, but he’s given up at least three runs in four of those efforts. He was equally hittable against hitters from both sides of the plate (.349 wOBA allowed last season). Gallardo won’t surrender a ton of dongs, but he won’t miss many bats, either.

The Rangers need a big effort from their ace, and we think they get it tonight. The offense has been incredibly inconsistent, but they should have enough firepower to get to a vulnerable Gallardo here.


Los Angeles Dodgers (+1.5)
San Diego Padres (-1.5)
Total: 8
  • Kenta Maeda (2-2, 6.58 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 5.82 ERA)
  • Moneyline: Dodgers -150, Padres +140
Betting Value: Sneaky spot to take the Over.

After dropping two of three to the Giants during the week, the Dodgers will make the 100 (or so) mile trek south to take on the Padres at Petco Park over the weekend. A resurgent Kenta Maeda will toe the rubber for LA opposite opening day starter Jhoulys Chacin for the Pads.

Maeda was trash through his first handful of starts, but he bounced back in a big way last weekend against the Phillies. He stifled the Phils over seven innings, allowing just a pair of runs on five hits while striking out a season-high eight. The Padres are another high-strikeout matchup, though Maeda did whiff a season-low four in his 2017 debut against San Diego.

Chacin has been all over the map this season. There have been starts in which he’s looked rather dominant, and others in which he’s been shelled. His lone appearance so far against the Dodgers came on opening day, and it was easily his worst showing of the year. He lasted just 3.1 innings and was blasted for nine runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers to Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal. He’s done an excellent job of inducing grounders and limiting hard contact, but lefties have crushed him to the tune of a .395 wOBA allowed.

The Dodgers certainly have their fair share of left-handed mashers in the lineup on a nightly basis, and Chacin can’t be excited about seeing them again. Maeda should do enough to keep the San Diego bats in check on the other side. We like LA in this spot.


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