Friday Night Trio

July 7, 2023

Three bets worth considering when the weekend kicks off

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves at Tampa Bay Rays
Tropicana Field – St. Petersburg, FL
6:40 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Tampa Bay -115

The two best teams in baseball will square off in what could be a World Series preview. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Atlanta Braves are dominating Major League Baseball.

They have a combined record of 115-60. For reference, the combined record of the third- and fourth-best teams in MLB is 101-72. That may not seem like much of a difference, but when put into a percentage it becomes much clearer. A 115-60 mark equates to a 66% win rate while 101-72 equates to only 58%. That is a massive drop-off.

Both the Rays and the Braves have significant leads in their respective divisions. The Rays are 5.0 games up on the second-place Orioles in the AL East and the Braves are 8.0 games ahead of the Marlins in the NL East. In other words, it doesn’t get better than this when it comes to a regular season baseball game.

The Braves are trying to continue their hot streak. They are 25-5 since June 1. Meanwhile the Rays are trying to regain control of MLB’s best-overall record that was taken from them by Atlanta.

However it shakes out, this three-game series is arguably the most important series for either team thus far. And it’s not outlandish to say that this series could have implications come late October.

Tampa Bay will host the series at Tropicana Field where the Rays are 34-12 this season. Because of this, they open as the favorite.

The Rays do have the disadvantage when it comes to pitching. The Braves will start their No. 2 guy in Charlie Morton. Morton is 8-6 with a 3.57 ERA. The Rays will also be pitching their No. 2, as well, in Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

In terms of overall talent, the advantage goes to the Braves once again. Ronald Acuna is a top-five player in baseball; he’s the current favorite to win NL MVP. Matt Olson is second in the league in home runs and RBIs.

The talent combined with the hot streak they have been on lately is too hard to pass up. The Braves being a slight underdog is a blessing in disguise. When it comes to the most-anticipated game of the year thus far, take the hotter team.

Richard DeMala’s pick: Atlanta M/L (-101)


© Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets at San Diego Padres
Petco Park – San Diego, CA
9:40 PM ET
SuperBook Line: San Diego -130

The New York Mets and the San Diego Padres are two teams that are struggling more than they should be. Loaded with talent and big-market money, the Mets and Padres should be above .500 teams at the very least. Yet, they are not.

The Padres are 41-46, 6.0 games back of a wild card spot. The Mets are even worse as they are 40-46, 6.5 games back of a wild card spot. Both teams are nearing desperation time as they look to make a push for the playoffs in the second half of the season.

This series will be critical in that push. Because they are within a half game of each other, the winner of this series will have a better record than the other. And with the way the National League is playing out, that could be the difference between sixth and ninth place.

The Padres will be the home team for this series, as they were the away team for the first time these two teams met back in April. During that three-game set, the Mets won twice and outscored the Padres 12-6 in total.

This time, San Diego will be looking to flip the script. That may be tough, however, as they Pads will face two of the best pitchers in baseball in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

Verlander will start on Friday and face Yu Darvish, the Padres’ ace. Verlander is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA, Darvish is 5-6 with a 4.84 ERA. Advantage New York.

However, the same can’t be said from the Mets point of view as the Padres lineup of Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis is arguably the best in the league.

All in all, both teams have their work cut out for them. Which team will prevail? San Diego.

The Padres are at home with their best pitcher on the mound and have a star-studded lineup. In addition, they have won four out of their last five games, including three straight against the Angels, a team that trots out Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout every night.

Tough matchups are nothing new. San Diego will be looking to capitalize on an opportunity to make a push at a wild card spot.

Richard DeMala’s pick: San Diego M/L (-130)


© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
10:10 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Los Angeles (NL) -178

It’s a home game for the Dodgers, but the fans will be the only advantage as jetlag certainly won’t come into play. The Angels will travel 30 minutes (without traffic haha!)  on Friday night to face their crosstown rivals in an intriguing regular season matchup.

Both teams are flooded with cash and their rosters prove it. Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani will all be on the field for what will be a sellout crowd in L.A.

Griffin Canning will be on the mound for the Angels. Canning is 6-3 with a 4.29 ERA. The Dodgers will counter with Tyler Gonsolin. Gonsolin is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA.

The Angels are in need of a much-needed confidence boost after losing three-straight games to the Padres, a series in which Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani both got injured. Trout’s was much more serious, as he fractured his left hamate bone and had surgery on July 5.

Trout will not play against the Dodgers. This, combined with the fact that the Dodgers have won three out of their last four, is why they are favored in the opener.

The Freeman, Muncy, Betts lineup is just too lethal. With Gonsolin on the mound, it’s hard to see the Angels prevailing. It may be close, but expect the Dodgers to come out on top.

Richard DeMala’s pick: Los Angeles (NL) M/L (-178)