The primary focus of the weekend will be the wild-card races, as five of the six divisions have already been clinched. The Texas Rangers are close to becoming the sixth team to wrap up their division race, as they head into Friday with a two-game lead over the Houston Astros with three contests to play.
Only the top wild-card spot has been claimed in both leagues, with three teams in the AL and five in the NL alive for the remaining two spots.
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Friday’s MLB schedule and odds
(odds via DraftKings)
- Miami Marlins (OFF) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
- Cleveland Guardians (-112) vs. Detroit Tigers(-108)
- Boston Red Sox (+114) vs. Baltimore Orioles (-135)
- Tampa Bay Rays (+124) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (-148)
- Philadelphia Phillies (-120) vs. New York Mets (+100)
- Washington Nationals (+235) vs. Atlanta Braves (-290)
- San Diego Padres (-142) vs. Chicago White Sox (+120)
- Minnesota Twins (-198) vs. Colorado Rockies (+164)
- New York Yankees (-142) vs. Kansas City Royals (+120)
- Chicago Cubs (-115) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (-105)
- Cincinnati Reds (-115) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (-105)
- Oakland Athletics (+120) vs. Los Angeles Angels (-142)
- Houston Astros (+110) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-130)
- Texas Rangers (+105) vs. Seattle Mariners (-125)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (OFF) vs. San Francisco Giants
Friday’s MLB best bets
- Player prop: Dylan Cease Over 6.5 strikeouts vs. Padres (-134 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐
- Player prop: John Means to record a win vs. Red Sox (+245 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
- Player prop: Seth Brown Over 0.5 total bases vs. Angels (-155 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
- Upset: Cardinals ML vs. Reds (+105 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Friday’s MLB prop picks
Player prop: Dylan Cease Over 6.5 strikeouts vs. Padres (-134 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐
Chicago White Sox righty Dylan Cease has posted worse numbers practically across the board when comparing his first- and second-half splits. Cease’s winning percentage has dropped from .500 to .444 since the All-Star break, and he allowed a .241/.319/.400 slash line pre-All-Star break versus a .265/.355/.427 in the second half.
But his elite K/9 rate has remained consistent, and it's even been improving slightly down the stretch.
Cease has posted a 10.8 K/9 rate overall in 2023, but that's spiked to 11.1 over the last two weeks and 11.8 across the last month. He's coming off his first double-digit strikeout performance during his previous 15 starts, and he did that against a Boston Red Sox lineup that had posted the ninth-lowest strikeout rate during home games in 2023.
Generating a 38% called strike plus whiff rate at Fenway Park is no easy task. We expect him to carry over that success into this start against a San Diego Padres squad that may rest many key players while on the brink of elimination.
Player prop: John Means to record a win vs. Red Sox (+245 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
The Baltimore Orioles are likely to rest some key starters the day after clinching their first AL East title since 2014. But they're still -135 moneyline favorites to win the game, which makes Means’ +245 odds to record a win more enticing.
Boston has been abysmal offensively while being held to three runs or fewer in 10 of its last 16 games. Prior to getting shut out on just two hits Thursday, the Red Sox entered ranked 25th in the league in wOBA and OPS since Sept. 12, and they're 29th in wRC+ during that poor stretch.
Meanwhile, Means has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all three of his starts during 2023. He looks strong coming off a 7 1/3 inning performance against the Cleveland Guardians, when Means generated a 25% CSW rate despite his velocity being down on all four of his primary pitches.
We expect the Orioles to provide Means run support when facing Nick Pivetta, who has allowed a WHIP of 1.313 or worse yearly against Baltimore since 2020. Additionally, his 4.02 ERA at Camden Yards is much worse than Pivetta's 2.61 ERA against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Player prop: Seth Brown Over 0.5 total bases vs. Angels (-155 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐
Oakland Athletics slugger Seth Brown faces Los Angeles Angels righty Chase Silseth for the sixth time. Brown has recorded two hits during that stretch, with one being a home run.
Silseth has allowed an average hard-hit rate of 46.4% over two years in the big leagues, well above the MLB average of 39.0%. And while Silseth has increased his strikeout rate by over 39% from 2022 to 2023, his 4.97 FIP is still troubling, especially coming off of a 5.97 FIP in 28 2/3 innings last year.
This is a three-star play, as Brown has hit safely in five of the last six games he's started, and his .824 OPS in September is on pace to be his second-highest of any full month during 2023.
Friday’s MLB game picks
Moneyline: Cardinals ML vs. Reds (+105 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Cincinnati Reds flirted with the NL’s final wild-card spot, but those hopes are on life support after the team lost six of its last 10 games.
Cincinnati is 0-2-1 in its last three series, and its pitching staff allowed seven-plus runs five times during that eight-game stretch. We're not expecting much from Friday's starter Brandon Williamson, who has failed to record more than 13 outs in any of his three September starts.
We should see much of a worn-down Reds bullpen that entered Thursday with the most innings pitched of any relief unit in September (112 2/3). The group also ranks 27th in xFIP during that span.
Meanwhile, St. Louis is 3-3 over its last six games the team has used Jake Woodford as an opener, holding the opposition to 10 runs in those victories.
We're getting tremendous value with this four-star play, as Cincinnati has won just 40.8% of its division games during 2023 and is 5-5 when it holds the rest advantage over its opponent.
MLB best bets made 9/29/2023 at 6:28 a.m. ET.
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