If you’re reading this article, congratulations! You survived the four days without any major American sports in action. For your trouble, the MLB has scheduled all 30 teams for Friday evening matchups, including some marquee meetings worth highlighting.
Interleague games between Miami and Baltimore as well as Arizona and Toronto pit four of the ten 50-win teams in the majors against each other for our entertainment. Reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara gets the start for the Marlins in their return to the diamond. He’ll face Dean Kremer in a matchup of pitchers with ERA above 4.70 in 2023.
The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays will play the opener of their only three meetings this season. Both teams are clawing through divisions that could send three or four teams to the postseason in 2023. Winning a series against a playoff-bound opponent after the All-Star break would be an important way to set the tone for the second half.
We’re eager to jump back into the prop market and present our Underdog Pick'Em player totals among Friday night’s games.
Burnes is fresh off his third-straight trip to the All-Star Game, although he didn’t appear in the National League’s 3-2 victory on Tuesday.
That means he’s all the more rested for his start Friday night against Cincinnati, the third time he'll have faced the Reds since June 2.
In his last two outings against Cincy, Burnes has struck out 13 batters across 12 innings, averaging 95 pitches per start in those two Brewers victories. We’ll see if he can come out of the gates strong in an important series for both NL Central combatants.
In his tenth year as a Cub, Hendricks has struggled to stay effective. The 2016 NL ERA champ is still among the best in that metric but has done so on the strength of the number of ground balls he generates rather than the punchout.
Hendricks owns a 0.82 ground ball to fly ball ratio through nine starts, which would rank him in the top 25 in the bigs if he qualified.
The Red Sox strike out among the fewest of any team, and Hendricks has posted a 5.4 SO/9 rate this season, the worst since his rookie year in 2014. We’ll fade him as the Cubbies begin their second half at home on Friday.
Westburg’s enjoyed a nice 11-game stretch at second base for the O’s, where he’s slashed .325/.400/.500 in 45 plate appearances.
He’ll face one of the game’s best in Alcantara at home on Friday, and Westburg hasn’t experienced much success at Camden Yards despite its reputation for being a hitter’s park.
The rookie has a .679 OPS at his home park compared to 1.101 on the road, so we’ll favor the veteran pitcher against the upstart rookie hitter in this matchup.
Justin Verlander has struggled to establish himself in the Mets’ rotation this season but has finally strung together three starts in a row that indicate he may be on his way.
The future Hall of Famer has allowed just two earned runs over his last 18 innings pitched, dropping his ERA from 4.50 to 3.60 in the process.
Betts is 2-for-27 lifetime against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, which bodes well for us in this matchup if Verlander has found his groove. Bet on Betts to be bottled up on Friday night.