After going 3-0 over the last two days, MLB handicapper Dalton Brown is heating up. With a full slate on deck Friday, he's targeting three more Best Bets on the diamond.
6:40 p.m. ET: Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins: First 5 Innings OVER 3.5 (-115) at Bet365
The Pirates and Marlins will play the second of their four-game series Friday evening in Miami, and I expect offensive production early and often in this one.
Pittsburgh sends struggling rookie righty Luis Ortiz to the mound, a pitcher whose Baseball Savant page resembles that of 2022 Patrick Corbin. Ortiz ranks in the bottom 10% of MLB pitchers in hard hit percentage allowed, average exit velocity allowed, strikeout rate, xERA, xSLG, and barrel rate allowed while walking more batters than 84% of MLB pitchers. He has allowed 30 base runners in just 17 innings this month, and the Marlins have been one of the league's hottest teams - in part because they've hit righties at an above-average clip (wRC+ of 105) since May 15.
Jesus Luzardo pitches for Miami, and while the lefty has been significantly better than his counterpart in Ortiz, his results are volatile. Luzardo has surrendered five or more earned runs in three of his last six outings, leading to a lackluster 5.24 ERA in June. Pittsburgh is no slouch on offense against southpaws, either - since May 15, the Pirates boast a wRC+ of 108 against them.
I think there is a good chance Miami gets us over this number on its own against Ortiz, but Luzardo's volatility could help us get there regardless. We have way too many ways to win here, and I'd comfortably play this over 4 as well.
9:40 p.m. ET: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres: Padres First 5 Innings -0.5 (-115) at Bet365, Padres -1.5 (-118) at FanDuel
The Washington Nationals are heading across the country to begin a three-game series in San Diego on Friday night, and I'm expecting the hosts to cruise over struggling lefty Patrick Corbin.
Don't let the Padres blowing a few late leads in San Francisco fool you - this is an offense that is starting to turn a corner, and we saw what they're capable of against a middling lefty starter when they pasted Alex Wood for six earned runs over 3.1 innings of work Thursday afternoon at Oracle Park. With both Gary Sanchez and Nelson Cruz providing a spark, the Friars' offense is now as potent as any in the league from the right side - so it is no surprise that since May 15, San Diego holds a wRC+ of 112 against southpaws (and that's before factoring in Thursday's laser show).
Patrick Corbin and his 6.31 xERA are ripe for the taking. Corbin has surrendered 26 hits and an alarming eight walks in three June starts, sporting a WHIP of 2.00 this month.
Joe Musgrove will pitch for San Diego, and he is catching the Nationals in their much weaker offensive split Washington's wRC+ against righties is just 87 this season, while they've managed a slightly above average mark of 104 when facing lefties. Musgrove has been steadily shaking off the stink from his start in an impossible environment in Mexico City, and has now lowered his xERA for the season to an impressive 3.10. Among MLB pitchers, Musgrove is allowing weaker contact on average than 92% of his peers - and since June began, his ERA is a much more digestible 2.35.
This is a huge pitching mismatch, a huge talent mismatch between these lineups in these splits, and even a mismatch in the bullpens (in xFIP, San Diego's bullpen ranks sixth in baseball since May 15 while Washington's ranks 26th). Let's not try to out-smart everyone in the room here - this one is simple. San Diego should roll, if the baseball gods cooperate.