It will be a much busier night on the diamond on Friday after just six games were played on Thursday. The podcast pick was a comfortable winner with the Colorado Rockies in a game that saw a very big line move. Other than that, there weren’t a whole lot of strong opinions on the card and none of the other leans or suggestions went all that well. But, today is a new day and we’re heading into the weekend with some key series opening up and some interesting betting lines.

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Tampa Bay at New York (AL) (-155); Total: 8

Jake Odorizzi and the Rays are not getting a whole lot of respect against Luis Severino and the Yankees. Some overnight money trickled in on the Rays and has continued in the early morning hours, but it’s clear that oddsmakers don’t think very highly of Tampa Bay in this matchup. Since he returned from injury, Odorizzi has been pretty good over his 22 starts. His 3.18 ERA is accompanied by a 3.17 FIP and a 3.86 xFIP. Odorizzi, with one of the game’s best changeups, should be a guy that can outperform his xFIP on a regular basis because he’s a fly ball guy that induces a lot of “lazy” fly balls.

There’s nothing to complain about with Severino’s first five MLB starts. The Yankees didn’t add a starting pitcher at the deadline because they trusted the 21-year-old to come up and have an impact and he has been very good. His advanced metrics do show a little regression with a .247 BABIP against and an 86.8 percent strand rate. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his five starts and that start was against Toronto.

Nothing against Severino, but this line looks a tad high. Odorizzi is a very good pitcher and has the ability to avoid big platoon splits against lefties because of that elite-level changeup. For the second straight season, Odorizzi does have big home/road splits, but there’s a lot of noise in numbers like that. The Rays would be the value side in this one, though I’m not sure I could play it.

Milwaukee at Cincinnati (-115); Total: 9

Are the Milwaukee Brewers actually improving? That’s the question you probably need to ask yourself prior to Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers just swept the Pirates in a three-game series and outscored the Pirates 21-11. Was it just one of those things that happens late in a baseball season? It is worth pointing out that the Brewers are 50-57 under Craig Counsell after a 7-18 start under Ron Roenicke.

Matt Garza is on the bump for this one against Keyvius Sampson. It’s hard to handicap these September games with two teams that have nothing to play for, but both of these pitchers certainly have something to play for. In Garza’s case, it’s a rotation spot for next season. The Brewers are going to look to tear it down and start over this winter. Garza, though guaranteed money, may not be part of those plans. He’s having his worst professional season with a 5.56/4.95/4.42 pitcher slash on the year and the worst command of his career. Hitters are continuing to hit the ball around the yard and Garza has been consistently bad. His lowest SLG by month is .445 and he had a 6.34 that month.

On the other side is Keyvius Sampson, who probably won’t have a rotation spot for the Reds next season. Sampson will fall victim to the numbers game, as Cincinnati added three starters in the Johnny Cueto deal and has guys like Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, and Michael Lorenzen that have higher upside. After a few decent outings, Sampson has allowed 15 runs in 11 innings over his last three starts. It seems that the league has adjusted to his lack of arsenal depth. Plus, Sampson just faced the Brewers last time out and gave up six runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings.

As awful as Garza is, I have to lean to the Brewers here. The Reds are giving Sampson an audition and he’s currently failing it. It’s not his fault, necessarily. His stuff just lends itself better to the bullpen. The Brewers are still playing hard for Counsell and it’s tough to say the same about the Reds with Bryan Price.

Pittsburgh at St. Louis (-150); Total: 7.5

There are a lot of big favorites on the board on Friday night. Depending on where you bet, Washington, Toronto, Cleveland, Boston, the Mets, Houston, and Kansas City are all -170 or higher. In this one between the Pirates and Cardinals, JA Happ will face off against Carlos Martinez.

Happ is the latest project for Ray Searage. After allowing four runs on nine hits over 4.1 in his first start with the Pirates, Happ has allowed two runs over his last four outings, covering 24 innings. The stuff hasn’t been overpowering, but the sequencing has been good and Happ has been pitching to a better defense than he had in Seattle. These are sustainable changes. Searage has taken bigger lost causes, like Edinson Volquez, and has turned them into respectable, if not above average, MLB starters. I’m a believer in what Happ is doing. You can scoff at his six shutout innings against the Marlins, but Miami has been a top-10 offense against southpaws all season.

Then there’s Carlos Martinez, who has been brilliant for the Cardinals. Martinez was skipped last time through the rotation for a back injury and it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals monitor him the rest of the way. Martinez, a smallish righty at 6’, 185, has already set a new career high in innings by a large amount. His previous high was back in 2012 when he threw 114.1 innings. Martinez has already thrown 154.2 innings this season.

Is that a concern? Maybe not in this start, though you will have to watch for pitch counts to be slapped on Martinez. He’s struck out over a batter per inning and has sparkling peripherals across the board. The Pirates are in a major funk right now, but they trail the Cardinals by 6.5 games and likely feel like they still have a shot. I’m a believer in Happ’s changes, and the Cardinals struggle with lefties, but St. Louis has a killer instinct and they smell blood. I like St. Louis and I also like the under quite a bit here.

San Francisco (-110) at Colorado; Total: 11

I hated San Francisco’s decision to send down Chris Heston, but it was a game of money and numbers and Heston was the odd man out once Mike Leake was acquired. With expanded rosters, Heston is back, and he’ll draw the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field in this one. Theoretically, Heston, who is a ground ball pitcher, should be a really good fit for this ballpark. His below average strikeout rate is concerning, but Heston left the rotation with a 3.56 ERA, 3.80 FIP, and a 3.91 xFIP. Like most Giants pitchers, he has a home/road split, but his road wOBA against is only 10 points higher than his home one. The concern here is that the Rockies have a lot of left-handed bats and lefties own a .265/.352/.445 slash against Heston.

Jorge de la Rosa isn’t having a great season by any means. A spike in strikeouts has coincided with an increase in walks and a drop in command. That has led to a 4.40/4.32/3.94 pitcher slash. The Giants are having a lot of offensive troubles right now and they were just held to three runs by fellow lefty Chris Rusin. With Hunter Pence out, both now and back in April, the Giants offense has simply fallen apart.

If you play this game, the under is the way to go. Heston should be able to keep things under control and the Giants offense may not hit anybody right about now.

Texas at Los Angeles (AL) (-155); Total: 7.5

My favorite underdog play of the night is this one. The Rangers send Martin Perez to the bump against Garrett Richards and the Angels. The Angels, as I talked about on Thursday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box, have all sorts of problems with lefties recently. In fact, they’re now 27th in wOBA against them. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have really carried this offense, but Pujols has really tailed off in the second half, dropping from a .255/.323/.532 slash to a .238/.279/.423 slash. That has as much to do with the drop-off against lefties as anything.

Martin Perez isn’t a good lefty, necessarily, but the Angels have been shut down by much worse this season. Perez has had some very unfortunate sequencing luck, as evidenced by a 5.15 ERA with a 3.19 FIP and a 3.96 xFIP. His 58 percent strand rate will normalize and his .340 BABIP should as well. Any mistakes he does elevate in Angel Stadium should get knocked down by the heavy marine air.

Garrett Richards is great and I think he’s really underrated. One awful start against Toronto blew up his ERA for the month of August, as four of his six starts fell into the “quality” department. (By the way, how ridiculous is it that the minimum for a quality start is a 4.50 ERA; 3 ER over 6 IP). I expect this game to be close and I have a lot more faith in the Rangers bullpen than the Angels bullpen. The way I approached this game in my mind is to ask myself if I’m content sitting on +135 or +140 with a close game late and the Rangers with a bullpen advantage. The answer is yes. I don’t see the Angels doing a ton offensively against Perez and I don’t see the Rangers doing a whole lot against Richards. In a close game late, give me the team with the better bullpen and more confidence.

Los Angeles (NL) (-120) at San Diego; Total: 7

Mike Bolsinger is back. Frankly, I’m not sure why it took the Dodgers so long to bring him back. I realize that there was a little bit of smoke and mirrors to his act, but his MiLB numbers suggest that it could have been sustainable. It’s the right time to bring him back, however, as he owns a .208/.261/.295 slash against right-handed batters this season. The Padres, as I’ve stressed, are a right-handed heavy offense.

The line value has basically evaporated here because James Shields opened a small favorite/money line pick ‘em and is now very clearly a home dog.  It’s been a rough year for Shields, who started out with one of the strangest stat lines in baseball. He was setting a career-high in strikeout rate with the worst command of his career. Unfortunately for him, the strikeout rate normalized before the home run rate did.

I have to say, the Dodgers are pretty overrated offensively in my opinion. They are fifth in wOBA, but 19th in runs scored. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, since they’re a top-10 offense in wOBA with men on base as well as with men in scoring position. Something is off. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I like the Dodgers on Friday, but, as I mentioned, a lot of the line value is gone.

Other Games

Arizona at Chicago (NL)

Atlanta at Washington

Baltimore at Toronto

Cleveland at Detroit

Philadelphia at Boston

New York (NL) at Miami

Minnesota at Houston

Seattle at Oakland