MLB Friday YRFI/NRFI best bets 10/14: Tony Gonsolin, Blake Snell in line for pitchers' duel

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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Heading into the weekend, there is everything still to play for in the NLDS. The Atlanta Braves ad Philadelphia Phillies are deadlocked at 1-1 through 2 games, as are the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Now the underdogs have home-field advantage, looking to pull off upsets before things shift back to Atlanta and Los Angeles on Sunday. Meanwhile, Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians is being made up following Thursday’s postponement.

Here are my favorite YRFI/NRFI plays for Friday’s MLB playoff slate. Also be sure to read all of our MLB previews.

Cleveland Guardians vs New York Yankees: NRFI (-180)

Game 2 in the Bronx will feature Shane Bieber and Nestor Cortes, which is a step up from the pitching matchup we had in Game 1. No offense to Cal Quantrill, but he is Cleveland’s 3rd starter. Gerrit Cole had a solid outing, but I still have more faith in Cortes than Cole. Bieber threw a scoreless first frame in his Wild Card start, which was the 8th time he has not allowed a first-inning run in his last 10 outings. In his 31 regular-season starts, the ace had a 1.74 ERA and a .170 opponent batting average in the first inning. While some pitchers take an inning or two to settle in, Bieber starts quickly and excels against the opposing top of the order. The most dangerous hitter at the top of the New York lineup is Aaron Judge, but Bieber has held the slugger to a .125 batting average in 8 at-bats.

I would be surprised if the Guardians aren’t retired in order in the top of the first. Nestor Cortes was incredible at home in the regular season, as he had a 1.95 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP in 15 starts. He limited opponents to a .161 batting average and a .222 OBP, so it will be difficult for Cleveland to get a rally going. It also helps that Cortes is a lefty since the Guardians ranked 24th in OBP and 28th in OPS against southpaws in the regular season. The top of the Guardians order has remained the same for the majority of the season, so it will likely be Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez. In their careers against Cortes, those three hitters are a combined 2-for-13 (.154) with 6 strikeouts. I see a scoreless first inning in the Bronx, so take the NRFI in Game 2.

Check out our full Guardians and Yankees predictions

Atlanta Braves vs Philadelphia Phillies: YRFI (+130)

Through 2 contests of this NL East showdown, we have seen a little bit of everything – including both a YRFI and a NRFI. After the Phillies put up a 3-spot to begin Game 1, the 2 two teams played to a 0-0 tie through the first 5 innings on Friday. The Braves’ bats woke up late in each of the 2 home games, which should give them confidence going into Saturday’s date with Aaron Nola. Philadelphia’s right-hander was solid but unspectacular in the regular season, compiling an 11-13 record and 3.25 ERA. He was actually worse at home (3.53 ERA, compared to 3.00 on the road). Nola can be dominant at times, but he can just as easily go off the rails. His 4 starts against Atlanta in 2022 are a microcosm of that. Two were great, while 2 – both at home – were lackluster at best (a combined 9 earned runs allowed in 13.0 innings, with 1 first-inning run given up). Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley completely own Nola; Acuna is 13-for-36 lifetime (.361 with 4 home runs and 4 doubles), while Riley is 18-for-42 (.429) with 3 homers and 5 doubles.

The Braves, after much deliberation, are countering with Spencer Strider. Because of an oblique injury, the rookie right-hander has not pitched in almost a month (September 18). The first 5 batters upon Strider’s return will be Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos. Good luck with that! Atlanta has a great chance of scoring in the top of the first, but if that doesn’t happen then Philadelphia can get the job done for the YRFI.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres: NRFI (-150)

Both the Dodgers and the Padres got a run across the plate in the opening frame of Game 2, but look for pitchers to restore order to the proceedings – at least in the early stages – as the series shifts to San Diego on Friday. This is an enticing matchup between Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers and Blake Snell of the Padres. Gonsolin went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in the regular season, and his ERA in 2 starts against the Padres was 0.71. Snell caught fire in the second half, recording a 2.81 ERA in July, the exact same in August and 2.17 mark in September. The southpaw did not allow a first-inning run in 3 starts against the Dodgers.

Nobody near the top of these lineups has done much of anything against the opposing pitcher aside from Freddie Freeman (4-for-9 versus Snell but only 1 extra-base hit). Mookie Betts is batting .231 in that matchup and Trea Turner comes in at .200. Padres leadoff hitter Ha-Seong Kim is 1-for-6 against Gonsolin and Jake Cronenworth (who could get up if a couple of guys get on base) is 0-for-10.

Check out our full Dodgers vs Padres predictions

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