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As of now, every MLB team is scheduled to take the field on Friday. If there are no setbacks, this would mark the first day without any postponements since July 26. Plenty could change before Baltimore and Washington prepare to commence Friday’s action at 6:05 p.m. ET, but let’s examine the packed game catalog to pinpoint some of the best bets available.
Cleveland vs. Chicago White Sox: Moneyline (-102/-114 DK, -108/-108 FD)
While this AL Central matchup is close enough on paper, it’s surprising that the probable starters haven’t tipped the scales more in Cleveland’s favor. Especially since this exact matchup resulted in a 4-3 Cleveland victory on July 28. Like everyone in the rotation, Aaron Civale is dealing. He collected nine strikeouts through six innings in each of his two opening contests against the White Sox and Twins, yielding one hit and five runs in the process. His early success prompted Nick Pollack to move Civale all the way up to 30th on The List this week.
Dylan Cease has hardly dominated to the same degree. Before tossing six solid frames to defeat the Royals, he served up seven hits and two homers in just 2.1 innings against Cleveland. For all the strikeout upside the young righty possesses, he has accrued just five punchouts with a dismal 6.8% swinging-strike rate. And while the White Sox’s bullpen relieved Cease masterfully the first time he toed the rubber against Civale, Cleveland’s bullpen leads the AL in ERA and FIP. Per FTN’s Bullpen Usage Report, the White Sox have also needed to use their relievers far more in the past two weeks. The pitching discrepancy and relatively favorable line make it easy to bet on Cleveland’s bats waking up alongside Jose Ramirez, who lifted a rejuvenated lineup to a 13-0 victory with a triple and two homers Thursday night.
Colorado Rockies Total Runs: O/U 4.5 (-108/-107 DK)
The Rockies have surprisingly ridden stellar pitching to a 9-3 start, and they just took five of seven at home with 43 runs scored. Now they’re back on the road, where they rank 28th in runs and 29th in wOBA last season. Although skewed by a Lance Lynn shutout, they opened the season with just 21 runs in five games away from the Coors Field. They now start a road trip against one of the early season’s most fascinating transformation acts.
After a rocky 2020 debut against the Astros, Yusei Kikuchi struck out nine over six scoreless frames against the A’s. This is a different pitcher than the one who surrendered a 5.46 ERA as an MLB newcomer. His average fastball velocity has risen a full 3.0 mph. More importantly, he’s revolutionized his slider into a new cutter that’s kept hitters off balance. Fresh off playing host for seven games, look for the Rockies to falter against Kikuchi.
Because of the varying over/under line, the juice differs drastically on FanDuel and DraftKings. It will be interesting which one, if either, deviates closer to the other by Friday night. It seems more likely bettors jump on DraftKings’ over in light of the Royals pounding
2020 NL Cy Young Award Winner Tyler Chatwood to eight runs yesterday. Prior to that unforeseen offensive explosion, they had tallied just 45 runs through 13 games. They’ll get a chance to stay hot against Devin Smeltzer, who will make his first start of 2020 after ceding six runs in two relief outings spanning 4.2 innings.
Then again, the Twins may not need much help hitting the over. As of Thursday night, they’re 10th in team wOBA despite getting stymied by Cleveland’s magnificent pitching. The Royals are sending out Jakob Junis, who owns a middling 4.69 ERA and 4.68 FIP over his career. He went just 4.1 innings in his season debut, so Minnesota could push the limits of a bullpen lacking depth. Taking the over on Minnesota’s 5.5 line (+102) also works on DraftKings, but the Royals should contribute their fair share with four or more runs in a soft matchup.
The first-place Oakland A’s are riding a six-game winning streak. Part of their strong start can be attributed to Chris Bassitt permitting just one run with a 12:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two turns. Houston, on the other hand, looks mortal. At the risk of setting up a trash-can joke, George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman are all slumping at the plate. Although it’s happening later than usual because of the delayed start, baseball isn’t truly back until we start worrying about Zack Greinke’s diminished velocity.
To be fair, dropping from 90.0 to 86.7 mph is certainly noteworthy. But we’ve been here before. Greinke looked lost on Opening Day last year, surrendering seven runs to the Dodgers. He lowered his ERA to 3.27 by the end of April. The 36-year-old already began the bounce-back process by yielding two runs in 5.2 frames against the Angels last Saturday.
It’s weird seeing Houston as underdogs — albeit ever so slightly — with an ace on the mound. Perhaps it’s faulty thinking to expect any semblance of normalcy in 2020, but the Astros are too good to stay quiet for long.
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)