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We've got a large number of games on Friday's MLB slate, which means we'll have a hard time narrowing down our picks. I've done my best to sift through the offerings and find my two favorite plays, and I'll get to them now.
San Diego Padres (+135) vs. Atlanta Braves (-160) Total: 7
Paying for a home favorite? Yeah, you can call me a square all you want, but I see no way the San Diego Padres win this game. They rank 21st in wRC+ over the past two weeks and own a low 6.5% barrel rate over the same time, which ranks 22nd. The Padres have made contact at a decent enough rate, but the ball is not traveling very fast at all.
Max Fried really isn't the guy to give up hard-hit balls, either. Just 33% of all contact off of the lefty has traveled at least 95 mph off the bat and on top of that he's once again comfortably above-average in the strikeout department at 24.6% this season. San Diego's redeeming quality at the plate has been its walk rate, which is over 10% over the last two weeks, but Fried has walked just two batters all season.
This is a disastrous matchup for the Padres offense, and then there's Yu Darvish. I will eat crow here if he shoves again against the Braves, but I really think this guy is finished. His whiff rate is down this year and he's been middle of the road when it comes to inducing soft contact. On top of that, his strikeout rate is all the way down at 20% after years near or above 30%.
Atlanta should win this comfortably.
Edge: Braves -160
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Chicago Cubs (+105) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-125) Total: 9
Zach Davies is a different guy this year. Last season he was a sinker-baller leaving balls up and over the plate for hitters to destroy. He gave up a hard-hit ball on 43.3% of contact, pitching to a .414 xwOBA on contact after a .422 xwOBA on contact in 2020.
This season, he's figured out how to effectively pitch as a sinkerballer. He's brought his ground ball rate over 50% for the first time in five years and he's registered just a 28.4% hard-hit rate. This is the best version of Davies we have seen in quite some time.
The Cubs? Well, they really stink. They rank dead last in wRC+ over the last two weeks and prior to a series win in San Diego this week (no big accomplishment) they had won just three times in 17 tries. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have ranked ninth in wRC+ over the same time and haven't lost a series since April 24. This is a story of two teams playing different kinds of baseball, and while Arizona will throw Davies, Chicago will be throwing its faith behind Drew Smyly. I'll take Arizona, thanks.
Edge: Diamondbacks -125
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