The Rays and Cardinals will rely on pitching to get in the win column as their second halves open up

Good afternoon gamblers, it’s Chris Bengel with you on this beautiful Friday. I’ll be stepping in for my colleague Tom Fornelli all next week, so let’s get a streak of winning picks started.

After a brief hiatus for the All-Star break, Major League Baseball is back and I couldn’t be happier. There were a few teams in action on Thursday. My condolences if you were like myself and took the San Francisco Giants to knock off the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants erased a 5-0 deficit and even took a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning. That was before Mookie Betts connected on a three-run go-ahead home run. Still, when it comes to sports betting, you have to have a short-term memory and turn the page to the next day.

The second half of the 2022 season should certainly be profitable with several teams battling for playoff spots. Let’s not waste any more time and dive right into my picks for Friday’s slate.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Rays at Royals, 8:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

    Latest Odds:

    Tampa Bay Rays

  • Key Trend: The Rays have a 31-19 record as a moneyline favorite when the odds are -130 or lower this season
  • The Pick: Rays (-130) 

Entering the All-Star break, the Rays were one of the hottest teams in the majors. Tampa Bay won six of its final seven games and outscored teams 38-27 during that stretch, which included a four-game sweep of the Red Sox. I’m expecting that hot streak to continue against a Royals lineup that isn’t exactly the most dangerous in the world.

Jonathan Coachman is joined by Mike McClure, Larry Hartstein and Calvin Wetzel to dish out Thursday’s best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

The Royals have knocked in the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball while also ranking just 16th in hits (756). On top of that, Rays starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen has been pitching very well as of late. Over his last five starts, Rasmussen has yielded one run or fewer in three of those outings. The right-hander is coming off of an outing in which he surrendered three runs to the Red Sox, but that only came on four hits. Rasmussen has also only given up four or more runs in two starts this season. With the pitching matchup and hot bats being on Tampa’s side, I’m more than confident in siding with the Rays in this spot.

💰 The Picks



Cardinals at Reds, 6:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

St. Louis Cardinals

The Pick: Cardinals (-160)This is simply a case of two teams going in very different directions this season. The Reds have the third-fewest wins in the majors while the Cardinals sit just a half-game behind the Brewers for the NL Central lead. St. Louis has been one of the better hitting teams in baseball as they rank fifth in  hits (802) and sixth in runs scored (431). The Cardinals also won five of their last seven games heading into the All-Star break, so I expect them to take advantage of the inferior opponent in this contest.

The Cardinals are sending Adam Wainwright to the mound, who has been terrific to start off the month of July. Wainwright has surrendered just two runs on nine total hits over his last two starts against the Dodgers and Phillies. In his start against the Phillies, Wainwright yielded two runs in a complete game loss. Over his last eight starts, Wainwright has given up three runs or less in five of those outings. In addition, the Reds have registered the 10th-most strikeouts (801) in baseball while also ranking 23rd in home runs (84). Against a lineup that doesn’t possess a ton of power hitters, Wainwright should have no problem pitching to contact and recording outs. 

Key Trend: The Cardinals are 4-1 in their last five games against a right-handed starter

Padres at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Getty Images

The Pick: Max Scherzer Over 7.5 Strikeouts (-115) — Mets ace Max Scherzer recently returned from an oblique injury that had sidelined him for a six-week period. Since his return earlier this month, the Mets star has looked like the dominant starting pitcher that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the years.

Since returning to the mound, Scherzer has gone 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. In three starts, the Mets pitcher has conceded just three runs while walking just one batter. He’s also struck out at least nine batters in each of those starts and Scherzer is coming off an 11-strikeout performance against the Cubs in his final start before the All-Star break. 

While the Padres do have a talented lineup, it isn’t one that hits a ton of home runs. In fact, San Diego ranks No. 25 in the majors in home runs with just 77 on the season, so Scherzer should be able to keep the Padres in the ball park. Scherzer also hasn’t had a problem going deep into games since returning as he’s tossed at least six innings in each of his outings this month. Considering the rate at which Scherzer is mowing hitters down, I’m expecting him to be able to reach eight strikeouts in this spot.

Key Trend: Scherzer has recorded at least nine strikeouts in each of his last three starts

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