SI Gambling analyst Roy Larking previews Friday’s MLB betting action and shares the two top picks on his baseball betting card.
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Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
Former American League East rivals meet when New York and Detroit begin a three-game series tonight. The first pitch for the Yankees vs. Tigers matchup is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium in New York. These teams didn’t play during the shortened season last year and this is the first of six meetings this season. Detroit and New York split the 2019 season series 3–3 and all three games in New York were low scoring. The Yankees won the first game 3–1 before Detroit closed the series with 3–1 and 2–1 wins. New York is a heavy favorite in the series opener against the slumping Tigers.
Matching their low preseason expectations, Detroit (8–18) is last overall in the league and trail Kansas City by 8.5 games and AL Central standings. After opening the season with a 6–6 record, Detroit has lost 12 of their last 14 games. The Tigers enter this series after getting outscored 16–6 during a 2–1 series loss to the White Sox in Chicago. Prior to that, Detroit was swept 4–0 by Kansas City and lost 2–1 to Pittsburgh during two series at home. Including a 3–0 series sweep of the Astros in Houston, the Tigers have a 4–9 record on the road. Detroit score 2.88 runs per game and allow 4.73 runs.
New York (11–14) has been inconsistent early in the season and sit last overall in the AL East. The Yankees are 4.5 games behind division-leading Boston. New York returns home following 3–1 series win in Cleveland and a 2–2 series split in Baltimore. The Yankees edged the Indians by 16–14 combined count and outscored the Orioles by a 17–9 margin. Prior to the road trip, the Yankees scored 11 total runs during a 1–1 series split with Atlanta and 3–0 sweep by Tampa Bay over five home games. Averaging 3.68 runs scored, and allowed, New York is the only team with a 0 RS/RA differential.
This contest features a pitching mismatch that favors New York. RHP Gerrit Cole (3-1, 1.71 ERA) gets the start for the Yankees and LHP Tarik Skubal (0–3, 5.21 ERA) is the starter for the Tigers. Cole has allowed seven runs, over 31.2 innings, and has racked up 50 strikeouts during his first five starts. Skubal has allowed 12 runs and 18 hits over 19 innings pitched. He has posted 17 strikeouts and 12 walks during three starts and two relief appearances. The Tigers are averaging 10 strikeouts per game and that’s not a good trend against a stud like Cole. Bet the run line and back the Bronx Bombers.
Pick: New York Yankees -1.5 (-159) run line
Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Hot meets cold when Kansas City and Minnesota begin a three-game series tonight. Game time for the Royals vs. Twins contest is 8:10 p.m. ET at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. These AL Central Division rivals are meeting for the first of 19 games this season. The Royals and Twins split the season series 5–5 last year. Two or more runs decided eight of the 10 contests. Minnesota won three of the four games that were played at Target Field. All four contests were low scoring as the Twins won 4–2 twice and 4–1. Kansas City avoided a series sweep with a 4–2 win.
Kansas City (15–8) is playing above expectations and lead the AL Central by 1.5 games over the Chicago White Sox. The Cleveland Indians are 4.0 games back in third. After opening the season with +4000 odds to win the AL Central, the Royals’ price is down to +475 on the MLB futures board at DraftKings. Kansas City had a day off yesterday. They enter this series following a 2–1 loss and a 9–6 win against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Prior to that, the Royals outscored the Tigers 15-5 during a 4–0 series sweep in Detroit. Kansas City averages 4.52 runs on offense and allow 4.26 runs on defense.
Minnesota (8–15) is fourth in the AL Central and trail Kansas City by 7.0 games. The Twins are playing below expectations as they began the season with +120 odds to win their division and a +750 price to win the American League. Those odds have increased to +325 and +900 at DraftKings. Minnesota opened with a 5–2 record but has lost 13 of their last 16 games. The Twins didn’t play Thursday and return home following a 2–1 series loss in Cleveland. The Indians won 5–3 F/10 and 7–4 before Minnesota avoided a sweep with a 10–2 win. The Twins score 4.43 runs and allow 4.70 runs per game.
RHP Michael Pineda (1–1, 2.42 ERA) is making his fifth start for Minnesota. He allowed three runs over 18.0 innings during his first three starts. Pineda gave up five runs, over 4.1 innings, during the Twins 6–2 loss to the Pirates in his last start. RHP Brady Singer (1–2, 2.95 ERA) makes his fifth start Kansas City. After allowing 10 runs over 8.1 innings, during his first two starts, Singer has given up just one run over 13.0 innings in has last two outings. This is a huge early-season series for Minnesota as they can’t afford to fall much further out of first place. Bet the run line and take the Twins.
Pick: Minnesota Twins -1.5 (+150) run line
2021 MLB Regular Season Betting Record: 13–21 (-10.41 Units)
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