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We're riding a high after two perfect days of MLB picks, and there's no shortage of betting options on Friday's 15-game slate. Here are our best bets heading into the weekend.
Happy Lance Lynn Day! It should be a holiday for bettors whenever the 33-year-old ace takes the mound, as the Rangers have won five of his last six starts. The only blemish came Aug. 4, when his three-hit, seven-strikeout effort was wasted by a walk-off grand slam in Oakland.
Lynn has posted at least six strikeouts with four or fewer hits allowed in all four starts this year. He's been peppering the strike zone with his trio of fastballs, which all have a whiff rate of at least 20% and an opposing batting average below .200. The results are clear - he ranks in the top five in ERA (1.16) and batting average against (.128), and he's struck out a third of the batters he's faced.
He'll have his work cut out against a dangerous Rockies lineup that's plated 26 runs in its last four games. However, Colorado's pitching staff allowed a league-high 37 runs over the same period. Seventeen of those came at the expense of the bullpen, which stumbled to a 10.80 ERA and a 65.2% hard-hit rate in those four contests.
It's a small sample size, but it's only getting worse, as evidenced by an eight-run disaster in the seventh inning of Thursday's 13-7 loss to Arizona. Castellani will be on a pitch count in only his second MLB start, so the Rockies' pen will factor into this one. You don't want to be on the wrong side of that.
Pick: Rangers (-115)
At first glance, this looks like a classic under play. Both pitchers have superb counting stats this year, and this total (9) leaves plenty of value on a pitcher's duel. Don't expect one here.
Let's start with Kelly, whose early success this season appears fluky in every way. Last year as a rookie, the Diamondbacks righty led the NL in losses and owned a 5.36 xERA. It's even worse this year (5.50), and he's getting hit harder with fewer strikeouts than in 2019.
The only thing he's improved upon is his walk rate (1.3%), which is best in MLB among starters with at least 10 innings pitched. Yet he's throwing just as many pitches in the zone now as he did a year ago, suggesting the drop from 7.3% last season is unsustainable. The Padres rank among the league's best at avoiding balls outside the zone, and they lead the league in xSLG (.494), xwOBA (.361), and barrel rate (10.4%), so Kelly will have a tough time emerging unscathed.
Lamet's performance is much more believable - his batted ball metrics suggest a star in the making - but his performance is highly correlated to his nasty slider, which he throws 51.2% of the time and is responsible for 20 of his 28 strikeouts. There's only one problem: The Diamondbacks absolutely crush sliders. This year, they're generating 1.10 runs per 100 sliders, more than 15% higher than the next-best team.
If Lamet were facing any other lineup, this might be an easier call. On Friday, an over is in order.
Pick: Over 9 (-105)
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.