We nailed two of our three picks earlier this week, including the Reds (+165) upending the Dodgers outright as substantial underdogs. We open our weekend slate with another plus-money bet worth making:
Few pitchers have been as reliable - and profitable - over the last two years as Darvish, whose teams have won 13 of his 18 starts since the beginning of the 2020 season. Perhaps more impressive, however, is what it's taken to beat him.
Those five losses came against an elite group of opposing starters: Clayton Kershaw, Sixto Sanchez, Jose Berrios, Trevor Bauer, and Corbin Burnes. Darvish, to his credit, has posted a 2.09 ERA in that span, and 10 of those 13 wins came by at least two runs.
Webb has shown some flashes for the Giants this year - namely Sunday's seven-inning shutout against the Marlins - but he won't measure up to the aforementioned pitchers without improving his command. He threw just 54 of his 107 pitches for strikes in his last start, which is concerning ahead of a duel with a Padres lineup that's top five in walk rate (10.6%) and strikeout rate (22.5%) and absolutely crushes poorly located pitches.
Pick: Padres -1.5 (+110)
No team has earned bettors more money than the Royals, who have netted a cumulative $681 on $100 bets through 23 games. Conversely, no team is better to bet against than the Twins, who have raked a wild $1,050 over that stretch for those who bet their opponents.
These AL Central foes face off Saturday in a mismatch of pitchers, too. Duffy has been legit in his age-32 season, leading all qualified pitchers with a 0.39 ERA that's at least somewhat supported by strong whiff rates on four of his five primary pitches.
On the other side is Shoemaker, whose ERA would rank eighth-worst among starters if he'd thrown enough innings to qualify. Three of his four starts came against the Tigers, Mariners, and Pirates, and while the Royals' lineup isn't exactly elite, it's good enough to support the team's red-hot starter.
Pick: Royals (TBD)
We highlighted our favorite buy and sell candidates through the first month of the season on Thursday. The Reds were among our favorite buys, while the Cubs were the easiest sell of the group. You can probably see where this is going.
The advanced metrics love Cincinnati, which has absolutely crushed the ball this year behind MVP dark horse Nick Castellanos (.977 OPS), National League batting average leader Jesse Winker (.377), and the rest of the team's underrated bats. The saving grace on the mound has been Mahle, whose hot start is backed by elite strikeout numbers and plenty of weak contact.
Chicago, meanwhile, has a case for the mantle of MLB's worst hitting and pitching team so far this season, and Williams' play doesn't exactly inspire confidence for this contest. Williams has been hit as hard as any hurler this year, so it will be a surprise if he lasts more than five innings at Great American Ball Park.
Pick: Reds (TBD)
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.