Welcome back to Friday Night Lines, your weekly home for casual baseball bettors or even baseball fans who just enjoy making picks for fun. Many of you have gone through a long week at work and now it's time to kick back with some of America's pastime on a Friday night with a beverage of your choosing. We have a full night of 15 games in store for us.
Here at FNL, we're in a rut right now, but this is when things get turned on their head. It's time to go West in search of our first perfect week.
Season record: 14-16 (1-2 last week) ... +330
Reminder, though, we're mostly picking underdog odds and the record isn't nearly as important as seeing that +330. Overall, the head is well above the water here. I just want that elusive 3-0 week so badly. Perhaps this is it.
All lines are courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook.
And as always, best of fortune to our gambling friends.
Pitching matchup: James Kaprielian (3-1, 2.51 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (1-4, 5.74 ERA)
Featured Game | New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics
Remember when the A's weren't really that far above .500 and had a negative run differential? Other than that 13-game winning streak in April, they weren't really much more than mediocre, we could have argued.
Put that to bed. The A's are 12-2 with a plus-41 run differential in June. The Angels were the hottest team in baseball until the A's just swept them in three games. Sure, there was a cross-country flight since then, but the A's had Thursday off. They're fine.
They also don't mind playing road games. The A's are 18-9 away from home. They've won series in Houston and Boston while splitting four games in Tampa Bay. They won a series in Colorado and that's actually tough (the Rockies are 24-14 at home).
Now it's time for Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are coming off a sweep of the Blue Jays, so they are feeling good and it makes it tough to bet against them. It also gives the A's underdog odds. We like those.
The Yankees are 4-8 in Taillon starts this season and have lost three straight. He had a 5.09 ERA before his last outing, when he only recorded one out while coughing up four runs on five hits. He'll do better this time around -- it's tough to do much worse -- but I have faith the A's can score enough.
Also of note: Kaprielian has held righties to a .132/.231/.235 slash in his career and the Yankees have never seen him before (yes, they drafted him; I'm saying the Yankees' offense has never faced him).
Pick: A's on the moneyline (+125)
Pitching matchup: Carlos Rodón (6-2, 1.89 ERA) vs. Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.98 ERA)
Featured Game | Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox
One of the weekend's marquee matchups in a gauntlet of a week for the Sox. They had to deal with the Rays for three games before traveling to Houston for four. They entered the series with the best record in baseball, but were clobbered, 10-2 on Thursday.
I wouldn't expect near as much a bloodbath on Friday, but I like the Astros again. The White Sox are good away from home, but not in the extreme. They are 27-12 at home and 16-14 on the road.
The Astros, meantime, are 23-13 with a plus-51 run differential in Minute Maid Park. They have won 13 of their last 17 games and are utterly crushing teams with a +56 run differential in those 17 games!
And yet, the White Sox are favored.
It's Rodón. He's been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season and would probably start the All-Star Game right now. He already threw a no-hitter and last time out flirted with another. The White Sox are 8-3 in his starts and he's struck out 97 in just 66 2/3 innings.
That makes it strength against strength, then, because the Astros are one of the best contact teams in the majors and have hit .286/.348/.459 against lefties this year.
I like the home underdog.
Pick: Astros on the moneyline (+101)
Pitching matchup: Vince Velasquez (2-1, 4.25 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (4-3, 4.00 ERA)
Featured Game | San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Giants average just about five runs per game (4.97) at home this season. Yes, it was against the pitiful Diamondbacks, but they are coming off a series in which they scored 37 runs in four games and they haven't had to travel. Buster Posey is playing back to MVP form while Brandon Crawford might be having his career year at age 34. Steven Duggar is pounding the ball. LaMonte Wade, Jr. and Jason Vosler are contributing. It's coming from everywhere!
The Giants get to face Velasquez. He hasn't been bad at all, of late. Since the beginning of May, he has a 3.47 ERA and that's being held down by one awful outing. Of course, if we look at just his last three outings, it's an 8.25 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .300/.386/.600 against him. He doesn't really get deep into games and if you look at the surface-level numbers vs. underlying metrics, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to fall here. I guess it has already started with these last three outings, right?
Cueto hasn't been great this season, but he's much better at home. I like the Giants to win. The moneyline is -125, though, so let's do better. They can win by multiple runs, right?
Pick: Giants on the -1.5 run line (+160)