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Only a week into the MLB season, things are even odder than expected. Some teams are waiting for the green light to resume play while others have changed schedules on the fly. Solely from an on-field product, baseball has started in unpredictable fashion. No team remains undefeated, and only the Phillies (in just three games) have fewer than two wins. This makes betting a turbulent endeavor. Some will embrace the chaos while others trust a sound process and hope that well-reasoned wagers pay off over the course of this wild season. Friday’s picks offer a mix of both mindsets.
New York Yankees to Score a Run in 1st Inning (+128/-159 DK)
Last night, the Yankees pounced on the Orioles for five runs in the first inning. They also began the season with Giancarlo Stanton taking Max Scherzer deep in Opening Day’s opening frame. They’re now preparing to face Ryan Weber, who isn’t even anywhere as good as John Means. The 29-year-old righty has relinquished a 5.34 ERA and microscopic 14.2% K rate over his career. In his first start of 2020, he surrendered six runs to the Orioles, commenced by a Rio Ruiz blast in the first. That’s far from an anomaly for Weber, who has surrendered 16 hits and 10 runs (three homers) in the first inning of a dozen career starts.
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees are heavy favorites with an enormous team run line of +6.5 on DraftKings. Wagering on them to pounce right out of the gate, however, is far more palatable with a favorable line. Let’s take our chances on D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres (just pretend he’s an Oriole!), and Stanton piecing together an immediate score. Just be sure to check FTN’s Lineups page to make sure the Bronx Bombers don’t rest more than one key starter — Torres left Thursday’s game with a right elbow contusion — atop their loaded lineup.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs: Moneyline (+163/-190 DK)
The last time I picked against the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks tossed a complete-game shutout on Opening Day. I had initially hoped to take the longshot Pirates against Tyler Chatwood, who also enjoyed a strong 2020 debut. Because Thursday’s game against the Reds got rained out, Yu Darvish will take the mound instead.
Although that’s a sizable upgrade in usual circumstances, the veteran lasted just four innings last week. That’s a problem for the Cubs, whose bullpen has yielded an appalling 18 hits, 20 walks, and 21 runs (19 earned) in just 18.2 innings. Any game placed in their hands is in peril. Trevor Williams hasn’t produced since 2018, and the Pirates pose a mediocre lineup and relief crew missing Keone Kela and Kyle Crick. Yet given the favorite’s glaring Achilles’ heel, the drastic moneyline is too tempting to ignore. Pittsburgh at least took one of three from St. Louis and Milwaukee with a one-run loss in each series. A close contest could swing its way if Chicago can’t manufacture outs in the late innings.
San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies: O/U 11.5 (-115/+100 DK, -118/-104 FD)
Yes, 11.5 is quite the lofty number. And yes, the Rockies have exhibited exemplary pitching to start the season. They’ve permitted a paltry nine runs in five games … all on the road. Last season, they allowed a 5.58 ERA at Coors Field and scored 6.2 runs per home contest. Many of those slugfests came against San Diego. In 2019, the Rockies and Padres combined for 184 runs in 10 Coors meetings. Only one game finished with fewer than 15 total runs.
The daunting double-digit line shouldn’t scare bettors away. After all, FTN’s Optimizer projects a combined 14.3 runs. With 7.7 going to the Padres, who have ridden commendable plate patience to a solid start, it may also be worth isolating the road squad’s 5.5-run line against the volatile Jon Gray.
Seattle Mariners Total Runs: O/U 3.5 (-105/-112 DK)
In a shaky inaugural 2020 outing, Sean Manaea ceded four runs to the Angels before he could complete five frames. With his fastball living in the high-80s and topping out at 91 mph, he mustered just four swinging-strikes. The southpaw, meanwhile, served up seven batted balls with an exit velocity above 97.0 mph.
While one rocky performance isn’t cause for panic, it does make Seattle’s basement-low run line intriguing. Nobody will mistake this squad for the 2001 Mariners, but they just spiked the Angels for 10 runs on Wednesday. Kyle Lewis, Kyle Seager, and J.P. Crawford are off to blazing starts, and the A’s may need to turn to their bullpen earlier than they’d like if Manaea isn’t crisper. This is far from a lock, however, as the Mariners have crossed home plate just twice in three of their seven games thus far.
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)