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MLB Bets for Friday, May 21: Grab the Giants as Home Dogs vs. Dodgers

SI Gambling analyst Roy Larking previews Friday's MLB betting action with his two top picks on his baseball betting card.

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Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

Division leaders meet when Chicago and St. Louis open a three-game series. Game time for the Cubs vs. Cardinals matchup is 8:16 p.m. ET at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. This is the first of 19 meetings in this National League Central "Route 66" rivalry series that dates back to 1892. These teams met 10 times last year and split the season series. Due to a COVID-19 scheduling quirk, all 10 games were played at Wrigley Field. Nine of those contests were decided by at least two runs. Given their recent similar form, it’s slightly surprising that the Cardinals are home underdogs to open this series.

Chicago (22–21) endured a sluggish start, as they were 12–16 on May 2. The Cubs were last overall and trailed first-place Milwaukee by 5.0 games in the NL Central standings. Playing better recently, Chicago is on a 10–5 roll. They have climbed into second place, and are 3.0 games behind division-leading St. Louis. The Cubs head to the Show-Me State following a 3–1 series win at home against Washington. After the Cubs won twice, 7–3 and 6–3, the Nationals avoided a sweep with a 4–3 win. Chicago closed the series with a 5–2 win last night. The Cubs score 4.60 runs and allow 4.44 runs per game.

St. Louis (25–18) was inconsistent out of the starting gate. They were 12–12 on Aug. 28, and trailed Milwaukee by 2.0 games. Since then, the Cardinals are on a 13–6 winning streak and have moved into first overall in the NL Central. Following a 2–1 series win in Milwaukee, and a 3–0 series loss in San Diego, St. Louis returned home for a two-game set against Pittsburgh. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 5–2 on Tuesday and 8–5 on Wednesday. Seven of the Red Birds' last eight wins were decided by at least two scores. St. Louis averages 4.48 runs on offense and allows 4.02 runs on defense.

Tonight's mound matchup features pitchers' deceptive earned run averages. RHP Kyle Hendricks (3–4, 5.27 ERA) starts for Chicago and RHP Carlos Martínez (3–4, 4.35 ERA) gets the call for St. Louis. Hendricks had a 7.45 ERA in April but has a 2.70 ERA over three starts in May. Martínez (ankle) returns from a 10-day stint on IR. He allowed five runs on six hits and five walks, over 5.0 innings, during the Cardinals' 9–8 win against the Rockies at home on May 8. He had a tiny 0.85 ERA, over 21.1 innings, during three previous starts. Chicago is 6–12 on the road. Back St. Louis as small pups at home.

Pick: St. Louis Cardinals (+102) moneyline

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 8:16 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 8:16 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants

Teams that are running hot meet when Los Angeles and San Francisco open a pivotal four-game series tonight. The first pitch for the Dodgers vs. Giants contest is slated for 9:46 p.m. ET at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif. This is the first of 19 meetings in this heated National League West Division rivalry. These teams played 10 times during the 2020 MLB season. Los Angeles posted a 6–4 series win. At least seven total runs were scored during eight of the 10 meetings last year. Dating back to April 2017, the Giants are underdogs for an astonishing 59th straight game against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles (26–18) played three distinct segments during the first quarter of the season. Fresh off their 2020 World Series championship, the Dodgers were red-hot during a 13–2 start. That was followed by a dismal stretch as Los Angeles lost 15 of its next 20 games. Getting back on track, the Dodgers went 8–1 during a nine-game homestand. The L.A. offense is dealing with two key injuries. CF Cody Bellinger (leg) has played just four games, while SS Corey Seager (hand) is expected to miss the next four to six weeks. The Dodgers average 5.09 runs per game and allow 3.68 runs.

San Francisco (28–16) played above expectations during the first quarter. Heading into the season, the Giants were posted with a 76.5 win total, plus +4000 moneyline odds to win the NL West Division, at DraftKings Sportsbook. Although some regression may be inevitable, San Francisco is on pace to finish with a 96–66 record. Following a 15–8 start, the Giants slipped slightly during a 3–5 slide. Led by solid pitching, San Francisco is riding a 10–3 winning streak. The Giants return home following a four-game sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati. San Francisco averages 4.68 runs and allows 3.38 runs.

After pitching for the Dodgers, during five of the previous six seasons, LHP Alex Wood (5–0, 1.75 ERA) is making his seventh start for San Francisco. Signed as a big-name free agent during the offseason, RHP Trevor Bauer (4–2, 2.20 ERA) makes his 10th start for Los Angeles. Wood hasn’t faced the Dodgers since 2015 when he was with the Braves. Bauer hasn’t battled the Giants during any of his 204 MLB starts. The Dodgers are 10–12 on the road, while San Francisco is a league-best 14–4 at home. If the Giants keep up their current pace, we won’t get this moneyline value on them at home very often.

Pick: San Francisco Giants (+136) moneyline

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 9:46 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook – Game Time 9:46 p.m. ET

2021 MLB Regular Season Betting Record: 28–31 (-1.60 Units)