MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, September 8th

By Adam Burke  ( Managing Editor) 

September 8, 2023 12:20 PM

MLB schedule today has 15 games

A busy baseball weekend kicks off with 15 games on Friday, as we’ve got a few really interesting series and a few series that are just a continuation of what we’ll see the rest of the way. It’s a 6-6-3 format today with six games in each league and then three interleague matchups. There are a good number of competitively-lined games today, so hopefully that will yield some good betting opportunities.

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Here are some thoughts on the September 8 card (odds from DraftKings):

Arizona Diamondbacks (-118, 7.5) at Chicago Cubs

The lone day game on the docket is at Wrigley Field between the Diamondbacks and Cubs. It will be Zac Gallen and Jameson Taillon after the D-Backs came away with a 6-2 win last night. This is a quick turn for the Snakes, but they’ve got Gallen on the hill and that has to make them feel good about the situation. 

Or does it? Gallen has allowed 11 runs on 17 hits in his last 10.2 innings of work. This felt like it was building because he’d been allowing a lot of hard contact despite his good results. Since July 20, Gallen has allowed a 52.3% Hard Hit% and a 12.9% Barrel%. He’s allowed an average exit velo of 93.4 mph. His SwStr% is down to 9.1% in that span. This isn’t the Gallen we had earlier in the season and this is a prolonged stretch of having major contact management issues. 

The numbers for Taillon aren’t stellar with a 5.73 ERA, 5.40 xERA, and a 4.83 FIP. He’s also stopped progressing forward. For a while, he was pitching well, but he has allowed 26 runs over his last five starts. Since August 13, he has a 7.86 ERA with a 5.96 FIP and has allowed eight homers. He’s given up at least four runs in every start and five in his last two, including five homers.

Great pitching weather is the reason we have a total of 7.5 here, as the winds are blowing in from LF at a good clip and it’s a chilly day in the Windy City. The recent returns from these two guys do not really support a low-scoring game, though.

St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (-120, 10.5)

Andrew Abbott and Drew Rom battle it out here as rookie southpaw starters converge at Great American Ball Park. Abbott has found substantially more success, as he comes in with a 3.22 ERA, 3.84 xERA, and a 3.99 FIP In 95 innings of work. His peripherals are solid with well over a strikeout per inning, but he’s had some hiccups. He’s allowed seven runs over his last 13.2 innings of work and has had problems working deep into games lately. He’s also had two starts with six runs allowed.

Rom has only made three starts, but they’ve been a struggle. He’s allowed 13 runs (11 earned) on 18 hits in 13.2 innings of work. He has an 11/8 K/BB ratio and has allowed a 43.8% Hard Hit% with a 12.5% Barrel%. He hasn’t missed many bats and is a junkball lefty who had a 5.34 ERA with a 4.19 FIP in 86 Triple-A innings for the Orioles before being part of the Jack Flaherty deal. He missed a lot of bats in the minors, but also carried high walk rates.

The Reds are only 28th in wOBA against lefties in the second half, which gave me second thoughts about this game. Rom did miss a lot of bats in the minors, but hasn’t to this point at the MLB level. I’m not sure the Cardinals are super invested here coming off of a series against the Braves which was a test against the best team in baseball. Playing spoiler isn’t much of a silver lining to a bad season.

I may regret leaving this one off, but I’m not feeling strongly enough about Cincinnati here.

Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (-135, 9)

I’m a little bit surprised to see this line where it is. The Phillies are sending southpaw Cristopher Sanchez out against right-hander Eury Perez. The Marlins are only 21st in wOBA in the second half against left-handers, but this was their good split throughout the first half. They’re also starting Perez, who has good numbers for the season, but carries a lot of name recognition into his outings.

Since getting recalled, he has allowed 12 runs on 19 hits over 25.1 innings. He has 34 strikeouts, but has also allowed a 43.3% Hard Hit% and a 16.7% Barrel%.

Sanchez allowed five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings last time out and hasn’t pitched since August 30, so it’s been a little while. Only three of the runs were earned and he’s got a 3.48 ERA with a 4.27 FIP in 75 innings of work. Something about this game and this line just rubs me the wrong way and I’m saying that as somebody who has been low on the Marlins for a while now.

Los Angeles Dodgers (-155, 9.5) at Washington Nationals

Mostly dropping in here to mention that Mookie Betts left the field on crutches yesterday after suffering a foot injury. X-rays were negative, but that is definitely a concern for the Dodgers. It also means he’ll be out today for the game against the Nationals.

MacKenzie Gore and Emmet Sheehan are the listed starters here and I’d be surprised if either guy works deep into the game. Gore just came off the bereavement list and had a start skipped. Sheehan just came back up from the minors and the Dodgers are closely monitoring his innings. Neither guy had an outs prop listed as of this morning, so the books are well aware that it could be a short outing for both.

The Nationals pen has performed surprisingly well for most of the second half, so I’ll stay away here, especially with the Betts injury.

Seattle Mariners (-115, 8) at Tampa Bay Rays

The Mariners took down a 1-0 decision yesterday and head into tonight’s game with George Kirby up against Taj Bradley. Kirby comes in with a 3.39 ERA, 3.87 xERA, and a 3.25 FIP, while Bradley has a 5.42 ERA with a 4.35 xERA and a 4.09 FIP. 

Bradley was just called back up on September 3 after a really rough run at the MLB level. He allowed 26 runs over 25.2 innings and got sent to the minors to work on some things. He posted a 2.91 ERA down there in 21.2 innings with a 24/11 K/BB ratio, but he only allowed three runs on 13 hits over his last 19.2 innings before getting recalled. The Mariners are prone to striking out a lot, so that may be what you want to look at here.

Kirby has had a few rocky starts recently. After throwing a complete game shutout on August 12, he’s allowed 11 runs on 22 hits over his last 14.2 innings of work. The Mariners skipped a turn in the rotation for him and he came back against the Mets five days ago and allowed four runs on six hits in just three innings. He needed 73 pitches to get nine outs and got pulled.

I don’t trust Bradley and there seems to be something going on with Kirby, who has either been really good or not good at all in the second half. I’m not a fan of what I’ve seen lately, especially when the opponents have been the Royals, White Sox, and Mets.

Baltimore Orioles (-120, 10) at Boston Red Sox

Kyle Bradish and Tanner Houck are the listed starters for this one, as Baltimore comes back to the East Coast. The O’s have rattled off five wins in a row and have opened up a four-game lead in the AL East. The Red Sox are five back in the Wild Card race, so we’re getting down to crunch time, as they’ll need to make up some ground soon.

Bradish has a 3.03 ERA with a 3.44 FIP for the season over 139.2 innings. He’s been good for a really long time as well. Since May 28, he’s allowed more than three runs in a start just once. He has allowed six total runs over his last five starts and has gone at least six innings in four of them. He hasn’t allowed a homer in that span and has only allowed 12 for the season. He’s really performing at a high level at this point and has become an ace for the Orioles since coming back from an early-season injury.

Houck has allowed eight runs on 16 hits in 14 innings since coming off of a two-month stay on the IL. He has 11 strikeouts against six walks in that span against the Astros, Dodgers, and Royals. He’s allowed a 40.4% Hard Hit%, but just a 6.4% Barrel%.

To me, Bradish is just better than Houck, even though Houck is not a bad pitcher. Both offenses have nearly identical wOBAs against RHP since the start of August, but Baltimore’s 115 wRC+ is eight points higher when taking park factor into account. The Orioles bullpen is also well-rested between yesterday’s off day and a lopsided win on Wednesday.

The better team is at a pretty short price here and I like the O’s to continue their winning ways.

Pick: Orioles -120

Cleveland Guardians (-135, 8.5) at Los Angeles Angels

The Angels did not use Griffin Canning last night, as they opted for a bullpen game instead. The Guardians got six shutout innings from Cal Quantrill and went 1-for-13 with RISP to ultimately lose 3-2 when Emmanuel Clase blew his 10th save of the season. For eight innings, this game was a giant dud and I’m not surprised. These two teams have nothing left to play for.

Allen has a 3.77 ERA with a 4.21 FIP. There are some regression signs in the profile and he’s allowed nine runs on 13 hits in his last nine innings. The Guardians wanted to slow him down and monitor his innings, but then Shane Bieber got hurt and they lost that luxury. I don’t think he’ll be pushed very hard in his remaining starts and the Cleveland bullpen has been a roller coaster ride with a lot of malfunctions this season.

Canning probably shuts Cleveland down because everybody shuts Cleveland down, but he is still a pretty average pitcher at best. He’s thrown the ball well in his last two starts with three runs allowed on nine hits over 13 innings with 16 strikeouts and one walk. I’ve talked at length this season about the need to get him to stop throwing so many fastballs and it is an adjustment that has been made. It just hasn’t always stuck.

His primary issue is the home run and Cleveland doesn’t really hit those. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of betting on teams like the Angels, but Cleveland doesn’t deserve this line. Canning also has allowed just a .290 wOBA at home this season in 40.2 innings of work. His 4.65 ERA is not at all indicative of how he has pitched. He just has a 67.3% LOB% to show for his hard work with a 3.80 FIP and a 30.6% K% in his home appearances.

This line should be closer towards a pick ‘em. I’ll take a shot with the Angels here. Hopefully Shohei Ohtani plays tonight. If he does, we’ll have some good line value. If he doesn’t, I still think the Angels are live.

Pick: Angels +114

Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees (-112, 9)

Colin Rea and Luis Severino are the listed hurlers here, as the Brewers and Yankees start a weekend set in the Bronx. The Yankees got a bad start from Carlos Rodon to snap their five-game winning streak and fall back to 70-70 yesterday. Now they’ll send out Severino, who has a 6.75 ERA with a 6.18 FIP.

Severino actually threw 13.2 scoreless innings against the Nationals and Tigers on August 23 and 28, but then allowed four runs on six hits over four innings against the Astros. That was still better than what we saw from him in late July and early August, but he’s still not the least bit trustworthy, even against a Brewers offense that grades below average for the season. Since the start of August, the Brewers only have a .301 wOBA and an 87 wRC+ against righties, with a 10.6% BB% doing a lot of the lifting.

I’m also not excited to entertain the idea of backing Rea, as he makes his second start back with the big league club. He allowed two solo homers to the Phillies over 4.1 innings last time out after spending some time on the IL and in the minors on a rehab assignment. He’s got a 5.07 ERA with a 4.54 xERA and a 5.13 FIP as a pitch-to-contact guy with a home run problem heading to Yankee Stadium. I’ll pass on that.

San Diego Padres at Houston Astros (-135, 8.5)

Is this the spot where Blake Snell finally implodes? Snell draws a Houston lineup that has been the best in baseball against lefties in the second half. The Astros have a .420 wOBA and a 172 wRC+ in that split since the start of August. If Snell can navigate this lineup, we might as well give him the Cy Young and not even worry about a vote.

Since May 25, Snell has a 1.31 ERA with a 2.93 FIP in 110 innings of work. He’s working on 13 straight scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts against nine walks. He’s still got major walk problems, but nobody has been able to crack the code aside from that. Even though Snell also has a start coming up against the Dodgers, I think this is his biggest hurdle. If he makes it through this one, the award is his.

The Astros will counter with Hunter Brown, who is dealing with a lot right now. He hasn’t been sharp in quite some time and is trying to work through some mechanical adjustments while pitching in a pennant race. His ERA is up to 4.53 with a 3.95 FIP in 137 innings, but he has a 5.44 ERA and a 5.33 FIP in 43 innings in the second half. He’s not working deep into games and not being efficient with his pitches at all. He’s also allowed a 51.5% Hard Hit% and an 18.2% Barrel% in his last three starts against the Mariners, Tigers, and Yankees.

Nothing from me here, just waiting to see if Snell can become the seventh pitcher to win the Cy Young in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, and Max Scherzer.

New York Mets at Minnesota Twins (-110, 8.5)

This is such a tough handicap between the Mets and Twins. I love what Kodai Senga has done this season and he’s gotten stronger as the year has gone along. However, I don’t love where the Mets are at right now as a team. That being said, the Mets are facing Dallas Keuchel today.

Keuchel’s return to the Majors was impressive in and of itself, but it has been a real mixed bag for him. He’s allowed six runs in 1.2 innings and five runs in 3.1 innings, while also allowing one run over 16.1 innings in his other three appearances. He has only allowed a 32.5% Hard Hit% and a 6.5% Barrel% over 77 batted ball events. He’s a pitch-to-contact guy with a high ground ball rate like he’s always been, but he only has eight strikeouts out of 93 batters faced.

Senga has been spectacular this season, though. He’s got a 3.08 ERA with a 3.47 FIP. He’s struck out 176 in 143.1 innings of work and hasn’t walked more than three in a start since June 10, so that high BB% is a little bit misleading. He has a 2.68 ERA with a 2.87 FIP in nine second-half starts and has had back-to-back double-digit strikeout games against the Angels and Mariners. The Twins are prone to strikeouts as well.

DraftKings has 6.5 with the Over at -165 in this one, so that’s a heavily-juiced line. His outs prop is 17.5 and he’s thrown at least six innings in each of his last five starts and seven of nine in the second half. He finished with 5.2 innings in one of them. I would expect him to pitch very well tonight. The Twins don’t have much exposure to him and he seems to be getting stronger as the season goes along.

As far as a straight bet on this game, I definitely don’t have one. I want to trust Senga in some capacity, but also don’t really want to trust his team, even if his stat line should support the chances of a victory. I’d say Over 17.5 outs is a good prop bet, but not something I’ll officially track.

TL;DR Recap

Orioles -120

Angels +114

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