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The Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros have set up a tantalizing pitching matchup on Friday night. Shohei Ohtani and Framber Valdez will duke it out at Minute Maid Park, in a game that will certainly be among the most exciting of the day. However, we like this game to start out with minimal excitement from a scoring standpoint, as this game should stay scoreless through the first inning of play.
Valdez may be pitching even better than Ohtani from a numbers standpoint as the month of June begins. He is 5-4 on the season, but his statistical output has been much better than his record would indicate. Valdez has a stingy 2.38 ERA, as he has worked his way back into the Cy Young conversation after a relatively slow start to the 2023 season.
Of course, Ohtani is no slouch himself, entering this contest with a 5-1 record and a 2.91 ERA on the year. Ohtani has struck out 90 batters in 65 innings of work so far this season, and his ability to miss opposing bats is ideal for a first inning total bet like this one. Expect these two aces to match zeroes on the board to start what should be an entertaining clash between AL West rivals down in Houston.
The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres have both been disappointing teams this season, as they are both in the bottom halves of their respective divisions. Hitting has been a huge cause for their struggles this year, as both teams rank in the bottom-half of the league in runs scored. However, we like at least one of these teams to get on the board early in the season, as one of the starting pitchers in this game is certainly vulnerable to giving up runs in bunches.
This is especially true of Jameson Taillon, who will get the start for the Cubs in this contest. Taillon is 0-3 on the season, with an ERA of 8.04 in 31.1 innings of work, with his tendency to give up hits early and often being a real problem for him this year. Taillon has given up 42 hits in his 31.1 innings of work on the mound, which will put him in some serious danger against the top of the order for the Padres.
While Michael Wacha of the Padres is far less likely to give up a run in the top of the first inning to the Cubs, that cannot be ruled out either. Wacha gave up a first inning run in his last outing to the New York Yankees. Despite Wacha being 5-1 on the season, he is not invincible, and the Cubs offense could always grab a run off of him before the Padres have a chance to do any damage to Taillon.
In the dream interleague matchup between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night, runs could be hard to come by early on. Both teams are sending excellent starting pitchers to the mound in what could be a pitcher’s duel at Dodger Stadium. As a result, we are hopping on the NRFI side of what could compete with Angels vs Astros as the game of the night on the diamond.
For the Yankees, Luis Severino is set to take the hill for New York, as he enters this game with an ERA of 1.59 in his couple of appearances on the season. There was some concern that Severino could be rusty in his return to baseball after a long injury layoff. But he has come out firing for New York, which he will need to do once again in this game if the Yankees are going to beat the Dodgers on the road.
On the other side of this game is Clayton Kershaw, who has had a great start of his own on the mound. Kershaw is 6-4 with a 3.32 ERA, striking out 75 batters in 62.1 innings of work entering Friday’s action. Kershaw has moved back into the top-five in terms of his NL Cy Young award odds thanks to his pitching this season, and he should hold the Yankees scoreless to help the NRFI cash in this late night matchup.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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