MLB Friday Night Lines: Best baseball bets, including streaking Yankees and two major rivalry series

Welcome back to Friday Night Lines, your weekly home for casual baseball bettors or even baseball fans just enjoy making picks for fun. Many of you have gone through a long week at work and now it’s time to kick back with some of America’s pastime on a Friday night with a beverage of your choosing. 

After a rough start to the season, we’ve settled in with marginally good returns and my earlier sentiment that it would get better as the season progressed is coming to fruition. In the last four weeks, I’ve gone 7-5 with a few bad beats. We’ll continue to get more footing here on what the 2021 teams actually are — especially tough early in the season coming off the pandemic — and we’ll continue to build. Last week was a success with the one loss being the Blue Jays. It was the only game they didn’t cover in a six-game stretch (three before and three after!). Damn the timing on that one. Let’s stay positive and go 3-0 this time. 

Season record: 9-9 (2-1 last week)

All lines are courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook. 

And as always, best of fortune to our gambling friends. 

Pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon (5-1, 1.47 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 4.75 ERA)

Featured Game | New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox

Though there’s been some inconsistency from game to game, the White Sox can rake. Of their 42 games this season, they’ve scored at least eight runs 13 times. Going on the road doesn’t bother them much, as they’ve actually hit for a better average and slugging percentage away from Guaranteed Rate Field. They have absolutely carved up lefties, too, slashing .297/.376/.486 against southpaws. 

Enter Montgomery. He was excellent in his 2021 debut. Since then in seven starts, Montgomery has a 5.55 ERA. Last time out, the Orioles tagged him for five runs in three innings. 

So I’m picking the White Sox, right? 

It was tempting. I mean, look at Rodon’s numbers, right? It’s just that here are the opponents Rodon has faced this season: Mariners, Cleveland (twice), Tigers and Royals (twice). Per wRC+, those teams rank 26th, 25th, 29th and 23rd in baseball, respectively. The Royals knocked him around pretty good last outing, too. 

This isn’t to say the Yankees are a modern-day murderer’s row (they aren’t), but they will easily be much better than anyone Rodon has seen so far in 2021. His numbers were already due more regression anyway. He’ll get hit a bit, even if it isn’t ugly. 

The over is only 8.5 anyway. A 5-4 result gets us home. Have faith. We’ll get there. It’s our home! 

A pick to click? Luke Voit hasn’t hit for much power since coming off the injured list. He’s due to go deep. 

Pick: Over 8.5 runs scored

Pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 5.27 ERA) vs. Carlos Martinez (3-4, 4.35 ERA)  

Featured Game | St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

I was really hoping the Cardinals were favored here by 1.5 runs because I had a brilliant stat to use. Did you know in the month of May, the Cubs are 11-6 and all six losses came by exactly one run? They haven’t lost a game by more than a run since April 30! The offense has been one of the best in baseball since the middle of April, too. 

Alas, the Cubs are favored, albeit slightly, and we like them. 

Hendricks got off to a brutal start this season, but he’s been much better his last three times out. The game in the middle looks kind of ugly, but a lot of weird stuff happened; errors, weak grounders to holes, pop ups finding the grass, Jake Marisnick pulling his hammy while tracking what would’ve been an inning-ending fly, etc. Otherwise in May he allowed just one run in seven innings against the Dodgers and then one run in eight innings with eight strikeouts and no walks last time out against the Tigers. 

Further, Hendricks’ track record against the Cardinals is excellent. In 20 starts, he’s 9-3 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He’s been pretty dominant in Busch Stadium since 2015. 

It is scary betting against the Cardinals. Here at Friday Night Lines we’re 2-0 when taking them. They are 17-8 in their last 25 games, too. Hey, that’s why they call it gambling, right? 

All we’ve got to go on here on the other side is Martinez is a very inconsistent pitcher prone to at least a mild meltdown. His track record against the Cubs (4.69 ERA in 111 1/3 innings) isn’t very good while Anthony Rizzo (.907 OPS in 54 PA), Willson Contreras (1.006 OPS in 20 PA) and Ian Happ (1.201 OPS in 18 PA) have crushed him. Happ has homered five times in his last seven games, too. 

Pick: Cubs on the moneyline (-111)

Giants at Dodgers, 9:45 p.m. ET

Pitching matchup: Trevor Bauer (4-2, 2.20 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (5-0, 1.75 ERA)  

Featured Game | San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Last week, I took the Dodgers without digging into the numbers because I thought they were bound for a hot streak and they were facing an inferior team. Truth be told, if they are playing like they can, every team is inferior. 

I’m going to stick with what works.

There’s some evening out to be done on the Giants’ end, too.  

Wood has a good track record and though his numbers in 2019 and 2020 were pretty terrible, there were circumstances (injuries, new home in 2019, a freaking pandemic). Seeing him have a bounce-back 2021 makes sense. It’s just that he isn’t 5-0, 1.75 good. Remember when I noted Rodon’s weak opposition? Wood has only seen the Marlins (twice), Rockies (twice), Rangers and Pirates. Those teams rank 24th, 30th, 18th and 28th, respectively, in wRC+. The Dodgers are third. 

The Giants bring in the best record in baseball and are 14-4 at home. They appear to be good. I’m starting to buy them. They just aren’t this good. 

Pick: Dodgers on the -1.5 run line (+120)

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