Friday High Five: Five MLB Underdogs to Bet (6/21)

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Thursday’s Major League Baseball action was another day of success for many underdogs against the spread. In the 12 games on Thursday’s docket of action, seven of those games were won by the team that was the underdog. Before looking at the underdog picks for Friday, you can take a quick look back at our picks from yesterday to see how we did.

Here are five underdogs to consider betting in Friday’s action:

San Diego Padres (+105) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 PM EST start

The Padres completed a sweep of the Brewers on Wednesday night. Now, they look to take their success on the road against the Pirates.

The San Diego Padres are coming off possibly their most important series of the season for their psyche. They hosted the Milwaukee Brewers and swept them with a combination of great pitching in games one and two, and then early offense in game three, as they ran Zach Davies from the game in the third inning.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have gone 3-2 in their last five games after having a seven game losing streak. This culminated with a great comeback win against the Tigers on Wednesday, as they came back from a six run deficit to beat the Tigers 8-7. Friday’s pitching match-up pits two pitchers that have had disappointing seasons so far.

Eric Lauer starts for the Padres, and currently is 5-6 with a 4.60 ERA. He was hammered in his last start against the Rockies (most pitchers were in that series), giving up 10 hits in under three innings of work. Lauer, however, had given up one or two runs in four of his five starts before the Colorado debacle.

Joe Musgrove starts for the Pirates and he has fallen on hard times in May and June. He entered May with a 1.54 ERA, and in his past eight starts, that ERA has ballooned up to 4.87. He has given up five or more runs in five of his last eight starts, and has given up six home runs over his last seven starts. This could be a very bad time to face a Padres offense that has a lot of offensive firepower. This game could be a high scoring affair, but you can bet the Padres today with confidence.

Atlanta Braves (+140) vs. Washington Nationals, 7:05 PM EST

The Atlanta Braves, and their 14-4 June record, may be the hottest team in baseball right now.

Today is June 21, the official first day of summer. It is also time for the long-awaited debut of Dallas Keuchel. The Braves-Nationals game today will most certainly one of the most watched games on Friday’s schedule.

This game has many story-lines right now. The Atlanta Braves are 14-4 in June and are one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Washington Nationals are trying to reaffirm their position in the NL East, going 12-5 in June so far, which has moved them to within two games of the .500 mark. This includes their recent three game sweep of the Phillies, which drew the eyes of a lot of baseball fans.

In what is possibly the most anticipated pitching match-up in Friday’s action, Dallas Keuchel faces off against Stephen Strasburg. No one knows what to expect from Keuchel tonight. He threw 14 innings in his two starts in Double-A, giving up a total of 12 hits and three runs in those two starts. Double-A, however, is not the big leagues.

Strasburg won his only start against the Braves this season, a seven inning gem on May 28 in Atlanta. He has struggled at home recently though, giving up eleven runs in ten innings of work over his past two home starts. In those games against the White Sox and Arizona, he has given up 14 hits, with five of them being home runs.

This is going to be a pretty even game, but due to the Braves’ performance in June, the hype around Keuchel’s first start, and Strasburg’s recent struggles, look for the Braves to take game one tonight in Washington.

Miami Marlins (+210) vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 PM EST Start

The Marlins have quietly being playing good road baseball in the month of June.

The Philadelphia Phillies are happy to be returning home after a rough six game divisional road trip. On that road trip, they lost two out of three at Atlanta, and then got swept by the Nationals. They keep this recent stretch of divisional games going tonight as they open up a three game set against the last place team in the NL east, the Miami Marlins.

The Phillies are 6-11 in the month of June, and will send Aaron Nola to the mound tonight to improve that record. His 6-1 record on the season does not reflect his less than stellar pitching stats this season. He currently has a 4.89 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. He has been the recipient of great run support this season, as he has given up five or more runs five times this year, and had four starts where he didn’t get through five innings. In his last three starts, he is 0-1 and has given up 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings pitched.

The Marlins sport the worst record in the National League at 27-46. This record, however, isn’t a good illustration of their play in June. They are 8-10 in June, but they are 6-3 in their nine road games. In June, they have won road series over the Padres and Brewers, and just split a four game set with the Cardinals.

Tonight, the Marlins send Sandy Alcantara to the mound, who is 3-6 on the season. His record, however, isn’t indicative of his recent pitching performances. He has a 3.73 ERA and has given up three earned runs or less in seven of his last 10 starts.

The Marlins did lose two offensive pieces to injury on Thursday night, as Garrett Cooper left with an arm injury, and Jorge Alfaro left with a possible concussion. However, with the Marlins playing really good baseball on the road, and a decent pitching match-up tonight, look for the Marlins to shock some people and pull off the upset tonight.

Oakland Athletics (+100) vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 10:07 EST Start

The Oakland Athletics scored four runs to garner a walk-off winner against Tampa Bay on Thursday night. This came after giving up three runs in the top half of the ninth inning.

Tampa Bay has had a tiring June so far. They have not had an off day since June 3, and are 8-12 in their 20 games so far this month. Of these 20 games, 11 of them have been on the road. This brutal stretch appears to be catching up with the Rays, as they are 2-8 in their last ten games. This includes a rough 5-4 loss last night, in which the A’s scored four runs in the ninth inning, after the Rays had scored three in the top half of the inning.

Oakland may be trending in the opposite direction of Tampa Bay, as they are 7-3 in their last 10 games. This includes winning two of three games earlier this month in Tampa Bay. They have shown the ability to string together wins in bunches, as they had a ten game winning streak earlier this season as well.

Tampa Bay plans to use Andrew Kittredge as an opener Friday night, and then will turn the game over to their bullpen. The A’s will send Tanner Anderson to the mound to get his first win of the season. Anderson has given up four runs in 11 innings in his first two starts this year. Look for this to be a close ball-game, but one in which the A’s will continue their winning ways.

Cincinnati Reds (+109) vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 8:10 PM EST start

The Reds turn to Sonny Gray on Friday to extend their winning streak to six games.

The Cincinnati Reds are here to stay. They have won their last five games, all games against teams with winning records (Texas, Houston, and Milwaukee). As a team, their pitching numbers are elite so far this season. They have the third best ERA in all of baseball, and have given up the fewest runs in the National League.

The Milwaukee Brewers have been going in the opposite direction. After going 2-6 on a west coast road trip, the Brewers laid an egg at home yesterday, dropping the series opener 7-1. Their offense has been very inconsistent over the past 10 games, and they may be catching this hot Reds team at the wrong time.

The Brewers will send Chase Anderson to the mound Friday night to even the series at one game a piece. In his three June starts, Anderson has given up nine runs in 14 innings pitched. Since May 17, his ERA has went from 2.66 to 4.05. He will need to turn things around if the Brewers are going to win tonight.

The Reds will send Sonny Gray to the hill tonight to extend their winning streak to six games. Gray is 3-5 on the season, but has a 3.77 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He has given up less than four runs in 12 of his 14 starts this season, and one of his three wins came on May 21 at Miller Park, when he threw six innings of scoreless baseball. Look for Gray to continue his consistency tonight, and the Reds to extend their winning streak to six games.

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