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Odds and Ends

MLB Best Bets for April 16

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: April 16, 2021, 4:30 pm ET

Happy Friday! To celebrate the arrival of the weekend, we've got a fun 11-game slate on the diamond for our viewing pleasure. I've got my eye on two bets I really like, so without further ado let me get right down to them.

Detroit Tigers (+165) vs. Oakland Athletics (-196) Total: 8.5

Frankie Montas, who will start tonight for Oakland, continues to get way too much respect from the books. The right-hander has given up hard-hit balls at an alarming 44.8% rate this season, and a whopping five barrels in 29 batted ball events. While some may say this is a small sample, there is a larger sample from last season to look at, when he had a pedestrian 4.58 expected ERA. Montas has consistently lacked swing-and-miss stuff at the big-league level, and his walk rate has begun to creep up towards 10%.

The Tigers have impressed at the dish, and enter this one with the seventh-best wRC+ in baseball against righties at 106. That's a testament to the quality of left-handed bats in this lineup from Akil Baddoo to switch-hitters like Robbie Grossman and Niko Goodrum. That's not even counting Nomar Mazara, who is currently on the IL.

Against a middling righty, I expect the Tigers to help us out here with at least a few runs, if not more. On the other side of the coin, I don't need to spend much time convincing you that the Oakland A's — who have found their groove at the plate in the past week — will hammer Jose Urena, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons.

Edge: Over 8.5

Houston Astros (-115) vs. Seattle Mariners (-105) Total: 8

If there's one thing the Mariners have done this season, it's destroy right-handed pitching. It's early, but this team's 109 wRC+ within the split ranks sixth in the bigs, right above the aforementioned Tigers. Friday night should be no different.

Like Montas in Oakland, Jose Urquidy gets a bit too much credit considering he has next to no track record in the major leagues. Much was promised when the 25-year-old debuted in 2019, and though his ERA has never been unsightly, when you peel back the layers of his starts you see he's really struggled.

Urquidy came out of last sesason with an expected ERA of 5.20, which was drastically different than his 2.73 ERA. His strikeout rate was disappointing, and he found himself giving up a boatload of contact — most of it bad. A pitcher right around the middle of the league in fastball velocity going up against a team that's made quality contact against righties isn't exactly the most appealing option.

The Astros have also been decimated by players heading to the COVID-IL this week, and before that their offense was heading in the wrong direction anyway. I'm not the biggest Yisei Kikuchi fan, but against a depleted order I see value here. Without Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman, this suddenly isn't too scary of a team against southpaws.

Edge: Mariners -105

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.