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MLB Friday Night Lines: Best baseball bets, including Padres getting a series-opening win vs. Dodgers

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Welcome back to the second installment of Friday Night Lines, where the ultimate goal is to be a weekly home for casual baseball bettors or even baseball fans who don’t want to gamble but just enjoy reading picks for Friday night. Many of you have gone through a long week at work and now it’s time to kick back with some of America’s pastime on a Friday night with a beverage of your choosing. 

One of the more annoying things early in the season for a baseball writer is the constant need to remind everyone how early it is. We do need to do it, to be clear. I don’t need someone out there thinking I believe without equivocation that Yermin Mercedes is going to win MVP or anything like that. Lots of casual fans need reminders that this is a marathon and not a sprint, especially after the 60-game season in 2020. 

A dirty little secret here: Sometimes we’re reminding ourselves, too. I debuted this column last week and spent my entire Friday night living and dying with every single pitch in the three games I picked, as if the weight of the entire season here was on my shoulders in the first entry. 

Good thing it wasn’t. My Braves over Zack Wheeler picked worked out well. The Astros let me down and a late Diamondbacks‘ offensive barrage took me off what looked like a sure under for seven-plus innings. 

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I was pretty broken up about it, even waking up Saturday morning. I should take my own advice and realize it’s a long season. Deep breaths, everyone. We’ve got plenty of time. Let’s get right back on the proverbial horse. 

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Season record: 1-2 (1-2 last week)

All lines are courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook. 

And as always, best of fortune to our gambling friends. 

Pitching matchup: Walker Buehler (1-0, 1.50) vs. Ryan Weathers (1-0, 1.50)

Featured Game | San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The main event for the weekend happens in gorgeous San Diego. I already previewed the series with six things to know and, among them, is that the Dodgers are the monster everyone thought they would be. They are the better team here and there’s little question in my mind. They are good enough that they sat their two best players, re-configured their rotation and didn’t use their most important bullpen arms Thursday night and still won. They haven’t lost a game in regulation since a funky Opening Day loss that included some fluky plays. 

But. 

They can’t win every game. Even if they set the wins record at 117 this season, that leaves 43 more losses to go. Heading into the three-game series, I believe the Dodgers are going to take two of three. We’re going to go with the Padres to grab the series opener. 

The Padres have just returned home from a week-long road trip and they’ll have the extra juice here from a returning Fernando Tatis Jr. It’ll be the first time all year they have both him and Trent Grisham in the lineup. The southpaw Weathers isn’t stretched out as a starter, but he might be able to get through the lineup multiple times and the Dodgers do not hit lefties as well as righties. The Padres’ bullpen this season has been amazing, too, and they’ll be aggressive in trying to get this win. 

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Pick: Padres to win (+135) 

Astros at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

Pitching matchup: Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75)  

Featured Game | Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros

After storming out of the gate with a 6-1 start, the Astros are now reeling, having lost five in a row. They’ve been outscored 33-13 in those games and have looked every bit that bad. There’s context behind some of that, of course, which is that four regular starters, including Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez were placed on the COVID injury list. Once they get through protocols, they can return, so it’s possible that happens in time for Friday night’s game in Seattle. 

If that scares you off, so be it. I totally would understand it. The possibility of those guys returning teamed with the Astros being too good to keep losing might cause many to want to bet on them or just avoid the game. 

I like the Mariners, though. 

They are going well right now, having won five of their last six games. Sure, four of those games were seven-inning doubleheaders (OK, one went eight) against the Orioles, but they still have to be feeling pretty confident right now. 

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More than anything, though, this pick is about Kikuchi. As my brilliant colleague Mike Axisa laid out a few days ago, Kikuchi is poised for a breakout season and he’s armed with a new weapon in the cutter. I like a good outing from him and the Mariners offense does enough to grab another W. 

Pick: Mariners to win (+101) 

Pitching matchup: Dylan Cease (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Nick Pivetta (2-0, 3.27)  

Featured Game | Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox

The Red Sox return home fresh off a nine-game winning streak that was snapped in a walk-off loss on Thursday. They’ve been winning every which way and the offense looks outstanding. I like them to get back to their winning ways. 

White Sox starter Cease has been inconsistent throughout his career and struggles with walks. The Red Sox lead the AL in on-base percentage and runs. They’ve also hit .285/.355/.478 versus righties this season. Cease is unlikely to work deep into the game and the White Sox bullpen hasn’t been great so far this year (4.20 ERA). 

On the other end, the Red Sox seem to have unlocked something in Pivetta with his increased slider usage. The right-hander is showing increased velocity with his fastball and change, too. And I know it’s a small sample (that’s all we’ve got right now), but the White Sox have been far worse against righties (.218/.328/.339) than lefties (.287/.368/.468). 

Pick: Red Sox to win (-111)

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