Apr 13, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (35) celebrates hitting the game winning walk off home run during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gallery Sports’ Betting Picks for April 21, 2023
Dalton Brown is looking to improve on a 35-27 record this MLB season with three more picks on Friday night’s slate.
5:35 p.m. CT: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pick: Reds First 5 Innings +0.5 (-120) at BetMGM
The Cincinnati Reds will continue their four-game set in Pittsburgh on Friday evening at PNC Park hoping to even the series with the Pirates after Thursday’s 4-3 loss. Promising young righties Graham Ashcraft (Reds) and Mitch Keller (Pirates) will start on the mound for their respective teams. Ashcraft has quickly become a steadying force in Cincinnati’s rotation, dominating opponents en route to a 1.42 ERA backed up by a well-above average 3.42 xERA. He cruised for seven innings in his first start against Pittsburgh this season and has allowed just three runs in 19 innings of work overall. Ashcraft leans on a 96 mph cutter with a ridiculously high spin rate that makes him difficult to deal with for opposing hitters, and at some point, these highflying Pirates will come back down to earth. Mitch Keller has been solid but not spectacular to date this season, but his 4.29 xERA suggests he is due for a bit of negative regression. The Reds have hammered Keller throughout his young career, staking him to a 1-4 record with a 6.88 ERA over 12 starts. When Keller faced the Reds on March 30, he allowed four runs on five hits and four walks and failed to finish the fifth inning. The talent gap between these teams is smaller than their early-season records make it look, and Ashcraft has a much better track record in this head-to-head matchup. I’ll gladly back the Reds with a half-run to spare over the first five innings.
6:05 p.m. CT: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles
The Pick: Orioles -1.5 (+115) at Caesars
The Detroit Tigers will begin a series on the road at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, and I’m jumping at the opportunity to back Baltimore at plus-money on the runline. The O’s have validated last season’s second-half resurgence with an 11-7 start to 2023, and turn to Tyler Wells on Friday. Wells doesn’t blow hitters away or post gaudy numbers, but walks fewer than 2% of batters he faces and has consistently posted xERAs below 4.00 throughout his career. The light-hitting Tigers will be a sight for sore eyes for Wells, who has faced the Yankees, White Sox, and Rangers this season. Detroit was horrendous against right-handed pitching in 2022, and have so far picked up where they left off with a wRC+ of 80 that ranks them in 27th in the bigs. Journeyman Michael Lorenzen starts for the Tigers after a disastrous first start versus San Francisco on April 15. Lorenzen allowed six runs on eight hits – including two home runs – to the offensively-challenged Giants over four innings. He has worked more in relief than as a starter in his career and takes on an Orioles lineup that ranks sixth in baseball with a 114 wRC+ in 2023. Add in a sizable advantage for Baltimore’s bullpen (3.30 ERA vs. 4.80 for Detroit), and the O’s have advantages in every area on Friday night.
8:40 p.m. CT: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks
The Pick: Diamondbacks First 5 Innings moneyline (-105) at BetMGM
Game two in Phoenix between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres sees Seth Lugo take on Zac Gallen at Chase Field, and I see a clear advantage for the Diamondbacks righty. Zac Gallen has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball for several seasons running now and may be reaching new heights in 2023. He’s never posted an xERA higher than 3.95 in his five-year career and is coming off a season that saw him post a career-low 3.17 mark with an actual ERA of 2.54. Gallen has become the type of starter that ought to be favored almost every time he takes the mound in the first five innings, but especially when he’s not being opposed by another ace. Friday night, his opposite number is Seth Lugo. While putting up solid numbers to date, Lugo is due for negative regression – and some of it started to show up in his last start against Milwaukee. Lugo’s 4.09 xERA dwarfs his actual mark of 2.70, and he failed to escape the fourth inning while allowing eight hits in his last outing versus Milwaukee. San Diego’s lineup boasts more blue chip talent than Arizona’s in theory, but the Diamondbacks are making believers out of more fans each day with their production. Thursday night, Arizona pounded out another 12 hits to San Diego’s six in its loss. Zac Gallen at a number this cheap is not something you’ll see a month from now – let’s take advantage of it.