Welcome to the Tuesday, April 16 edition of the MLB Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one MLB bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
4/16/19 MLB Betting Pick:
NY Yankees (6-9) vs. Boston Red Sox (6-11)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Red Sox -112 ML (o/u: 8)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Red Sox -102 ML (o/u: 8.5)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Red Sox -115 ML (o/u: 8)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Red Sox -118 ML (o/u: 8.5)
Boston is off to a rough start in defense of a World Series title. Meanwhile, the Yankees are trying to keep their heads above water with the majority of their key players on the disabled list.
Miguel Andujar (shoulder), Dellin Betances (shoulder), Jacoby Ellsbury (hip), Didi Gregorius (elbow), Aaron Hicks (back), Jordan Montgomery (elbow), Austin Romine (undisclosed), Gary Sanchez (calf), Luis Severino (shoulder), Giancarlo Stanton (bicep), and Troy Tulowitzki (calf) are all on the DL with short or long-term injuries. Due in part to all those injuries, the Yankees dropped two of three to the White Sox over the weekend. They’re now 3-6 at home and have lost 5 of 6 heading into this rivalry series.
The Red Sox opened the season in a tough spot with 11 consecutive games on the West Coast, partially explaining their unsightly team ERA (5.86). The starters have been historically bad, but the Red Sox bullpen is above average with a 3.86 ERA and the third-most Ks (72) in relief so far this year. Boston snapped out of its collective funk to win 3 of 4 games over the weekend, then dropped an afternoon tilt with the Orioles to move to 6-11 on the season.
The Red Sox declined to start Chris Sale in the early game on Patriots Day, giving him an extra day to prepare for the Yankees. Sale has been uncharacteristically awful early in the season. Historically, he’s broken down toward the end of the summer, but coming out of the gates 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA is unexpected. Sale’s struggles are partially due to a relatively huge drop in velocity. He averaged 95.3 MPH on his fastball in 2018, which ranked 28.4 runs above average in 2017, according to Brooks Baseball. So far this year, he’s averaging 91.1 MPH on a heater that ranks 5.8 runs below average.
Current Yankees are 31-for-167 (.186) with 68 Ks in their careers against Sale. New York is sporting the third-lowest collective average (.196) and the highest K-Rate (34.7%) in the Majors when facing LHPs this season.
Aaron Judge has 1 HR and 13 Ks over 18 at-bats against Sale. Brett Gardner has also been very strikeout prone when facing Sale. Neither of those bats may do much damage, but the Yanks have fill-ins that could tag Sale if he hasn’t regained his form.
DJ LeMahieu has done a great job hitting for contact atop the order. Gleyber Torres posted a 46.3% hard contact and 27.5% HR/FB ratio when facing LHPs last year and has the most upside of any Yankees hitter in this matchup. Luke Voit is also capable of going deep off Sale or striking out multiple times. The rest of the Yankees lineup consists of uninspiring talents such as Gio Urshela, Tyler Wade, and Clint Frazier.
Yankees starter James Paxton is another left-hander going through some early-season struggles. He owns a 1.73 WHIP due to control issues (3.60 BB/9) and is posting a career-low 0.83 GB/FB ratio. That could certainly lead to trouble at tiny Yankee Stadium.
Paxton gave up 4 ER and 2 HR over 5 IP in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium prior to his season debut against the lowly Orioles. He also was shelled by the Red Sox (7 H, 6 ER over 2.1 IP) in a start at Safeco Field last June 15. Current Red Sox are 22-for-75 (.293) with 16 Ks and 3 BB in their careers against Paxton, and Boston is hitting an above-average .277 with the fifth-lowest K-Rate (16.4%) in the Majors when facing lefties this season.
J.D. Martinez is 4-for-8 in his career against Paxton and is a matchup problem for any hard-throwing lefty due to his ability to hammer balls to the opposite field. Keep in mind that Yankee Stadium has the highest HR Factor in the Majors on balls hit to right field. Then, Mookie Betts hasn’t yet regained his MVP form, but he absolutely crushes fastballs, and Paxton has only thrown offspeed stuff 21.7% of the time throughout his career. Steve Pearce, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez could also produce against the Yanks new lefty starter.
The Final Word
Despite his early-season struggles and concerning loss of velocity, Chris Sale has proven capable of dominating in any given outing. He’s likely to correct some of his mistakes in terms of location and approach against an injury-depleted Yankees lineup.
Sale has been lights out against the Yankees and fantastic in the Bronx with a 1.65 ERA, 11.54 K/9 ratio, and .180 BAA over his last four trips to Yankee Stadium. He was undone by poor control and some bad luck in a home start against Toronto last Tuesday, both of which are rectifiable.
Betting on Boston (-102 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is a vote of confidence in the 30-year-old Sale bouncing back from an embarrassing start and showing his teammates he can still serve as the ace of a staff. The Red Sox offense is starting to come around (despite Monday’s weak showing), and their bullpen has been strong. So if Sale can deliver a Quality Start, Boston should take the first of many 2019 games between these A.L. East foes. We would even lean toward the Under (8.5 runs on BetStars Sportsbook) as a vote of confidence for Sale and a prediction that Paxton also narrows his focus in this intense rivalry game.
The Pick: Red Sox (-102) or Under (8.5 runs)