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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM

Friday's MLB Bets: Tigers at Reds & Angels at Athletics

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout
Mike Trout and the Angels will begin their 2020 season against the Athletics from Oakland on Friday. (AP)

This Friday, the MLB Opening Day festivities continue with five nationally televised games.

After being starved of American sports over the last four months, we can finally feast on a full slate of baseball starting at 4:00 p.m. ET.

I'm focusing on two games for the Friday slate, the first matchup will be an Interleague battle between the Tiger and Reds. A few hours later, my betting attention

Tigers at Reds Betting Picks & Prediction

Time: 6:10 p.m. ET
Channel: MLB Network

Tigers at Reds Odds

  • Detroit Tigers (+162)
  • Cincinnati Reds (-177)
  • O/U 8 Runs (Over -120, Under +100)

Probable Pitchers (2019 Records)

  • Matt Boyd LHP (9-12, 4.56 ERA)
  • Sonny Gray RHP (11-8, 2.87 ERA)

Tomorrow night’s game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds is projected to be a lopsided matchup. The Tigers last year managed to lead the league with 114 losses. Luckily for the Tigers, they will not lose as many games this year for two reasons. The first reason is because they are only playing 60 games this season, the other reason is because they improved their team in the offseason.

While the Tigers are not nearly as bad as they were last year, the Reds had one of the best offseasons in baseball this winter. For the last few seasons, the Reds have been a perennial .500 team, but this season they are one of the favorites to win the wide-open NL Central. As a result, this game is correctly priced as a game that the Cincinnati Reds should easily win. However, the run total is set too low and that is why I am betting on both teams to combine for over eight runs at -120 juice.

For a run total to typically go under eight runs, both teams must pitch well. Any game involving the Detroit Tigers to score fewer than eight runs is suspect this year since their starting rotation is made up of young players and over the hill veterans.

Matt Boyd is the best pitcher in the Detroit Tigers starting rotation, but on most contending teams he would be a 5th starter. Last season Boyd had a 4.56 ERA, and a 4.32 FIP. Further hurting the Tigers is that my model projects them to have the second worst bullpen in baseball this season.

Opposing Boyd is Reds pitcher Sonny Gray who FanGraphs projects to decline this season. According to FanGraphs player projections, Gray is projected to have a 3.98 ERA and a 3.97 FIP. When you combine the pitching between both teams this is a great spot for betting that over eight runs will be scored.

As far as both teams’ lineups are concerned, the Reds will contribute more runs toward the run total. The Reds roster is so loaded that they had to release 2B Derek Dietrich even though he is an average offensive player. Of the nine position players in the Reds lineup, seven of those players are projected to have above average offensive seasons this year.

The Tigers lineup is not particularly good, but they are not as bad as last year. This offseason the Tigers added 1B C.J. Cron and 2B Jonathan Schoop who are average to above-average offensive players. Look for the Tigers to contribute three to five runs and for the Reds to contribute four to six runs.

Detroit at Cincinnati MLB Best Bets & Predictions

Best Bet:
Over 8 Runs Scored (-120)

Final Score Prediction:
Cincinnati Reds 5 Detroit Tigers 4

Angels at Athletics
Betting Picks & Prediction

Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

Angels at Athletics Odds

  • Los Angeles Angels (+132)
  • Oakland Athletics (-155)
  • O/U 8.5 Runs (Over -105, Under -117)

Probable Pitchers (2019 Records)

  • Andrew Heaney LHP (4-6, 4.91 ERA)
  • Frankie Montas RHP (9-2, 2.63 ERA)

Tomorrow night’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland A’s is projected to be a lopsided matchup. However, this is not the case as my model has this game as a tossup with both teams having a 50% chance of winning. That is why I am betting on the Angels to win as +132 moneyline underdogs.

The most misleading reason to bet on the A’s tonight is if you are basing your decisions off the records of both starting pitchers. Last season Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney pitched poorly with a 4.91 ERA, and a 4.63 FIP.

In contrast to Heaney, A’s starter Frankie Montas had a 2.63 ERA, and a 3.00 FIP. However past performance is not predictive of future performance as FanGraphs projects similar seasons from both pitchers this year. Montas is projected to regress with a 3.98 FIP, while Heaney is projected to improve with a 4.13 FIP. With both starting pitchers projected to be nearly identical to each other, it is further proof that this game is a toss-up.

While the starting pitching between both teams is nearly equal, the Angels bullpen is a weak spot. Bullpens are expected to play an increased role at the beginning of the shortened season due to the expanded 30-man roster. My model projects the Angels bullpen to have a 4.36 FIP this season while the A’s bullpen is expected to have a 3.87 FIP. However, the difference in bullpen FIP is less than half a run and it is not enough to talk me out of betting on the Angels.

If there is any reason to bet on the Angels in any game this season it is because of their lineup which is lead by Mike Trout. As the undisputed best position player in the game right now, Trout is entering his prime as a 28-year old. Baseball Prospectus PECOTA player ratings project Trout to have a deserved runs created plus of 190 meaning they predict that Trout will create 90% more runs this season than the average offensive player.

While the Angels lineup is inconvenienced by Anthony Rendon’s injury, they have other weapons including Shohei Ohtani.

The A’s lineup is a well-rounded lineup with seven out of nine position players expected to perform above-average offensively. However, while the A’s lineup is well rounded it is not nearly as good as the Mike Trout led Angels. That is why I am betting on the Angels moneyline at +132 odds.

Los Angeles at Oakland
MLB Best Bets & Predictions

Best Bet:
Los Angeles Angels Moneyline (+132)

Final Score Prediction:
Los Angeles Angels 5, Oakland A’s 4

Best Bets Tracker

Los Angeles Angels Moneyline (+132)
Detroit/Cincinnati Over 8 Runs Scored (-120)

How do I handicap my MLB Best Bets?

My MLB handicapping model is based on the baseball pythagorean theorem where you can predict a team's winning percentage based on how many runs they score and allow over the course of the season. I make projections on how many runs each player scores or allows for how that team's projected roster for that day would do over the course of a full season.

Once I have a projected winning percentage for both teams, I have a formula I use to determine each team's probability of winning. For example, I calculate what percentage of games a .500 team wins against a .400 win team.

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