Welcome to the Wednesday, April 17 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.
4/17/19 MLB Betting Pick:
NY Yankees (7-9) vs. Boston Red Sox (6-12)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Yankees -107 ML (o/u: 9)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Yankees -114 ML (o/u: 9)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Yankees -120 ML (o/u: 9.5)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Yankees -120 ML (o/u: 9)
First, note that the following Yankees remain out: Miguel Andujar (shoulder), Dellin Betances (shoulder), Greg Bird (foot), Jacoby Ellsbury (hip), Didi Gregorius (elbow), Aaron Hicks (back), Jordan Montgomery (elbow), Gary Sanchez (calf), Luis Severino (shoulder), Giancarlo Stanton (bicep), and Troy Tulowitzki (calf) with short or long-term injuries.
Despite those injuries, the Yankees appear to be a far superior team at this juncture to the Red Sox, who can’t sustain offense and can’t buy a Quality Start in the first month of their World Series title defense.
The Yankees added to Chris Sale’s woes with an 8-0 victory last night and are now 21-11 in regular season home games against Boston since 2016.
The Bronx Bombers will send veteran LHP J.A. Happ to the mound tonight, and it’s safe to wonder if he’s losing his ability at age 36. Happ has never been a flamethrower, but his velocity has dipped 1 MPH on average (to 91.7 MPH) and his fastball rates 3.3 runs below average after rating 14.5 runs above average in 2018.
Yet Happ has owned the Red Sox recently. He’s 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA and .198 BAA over his last 11 starts against Boston. Happ is also 7-0 with a 2.70 ERA over his last 10 starts at Yankee Stadium.
His ability to utilize a slider and sinker that look similar has kept even the best RHB off balance. J.D. Martinez is 4-for-20 in his career against Happ. Mookie Betts is 7-for-34 with 2 XBH and 2 HR, so he has upside if Happ isn’t sharp with his location.
Steve Pearce has given Happ trouble (11-for-32, 6 HR, 5 BB) and will likely bat towards the heart of the order given that history.
The Red Sox have just 7 hits and one run over their last two games. Last year, Boston posted a modest .313 wOBA with the fifth-lowest hard contact rate (31.8%) when facing LHP. Those numbers are down to a 28.8% hard contact rate and collective .300 wOBA this season.
The Red Sox are starting postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, who has been a complete disappoint through three starts after inking a big contract. Eovaldi’s velocity remains the same at a lofty 97.1 MPH, but his location has been erratic and he currently owns an identical 14.3% BB rate to go along with his 14.3% K-Rate.
Eovaldi has turned it up with a 1.93 ERA over his last four starts against the Yanks. But he struggled at times when he was a member of the Yankees, posting a 4.20 ERA and troubling 1.56 HR/9 ratio over 13 appearances at Yankee Stadium.
He’s been victimized with a 33.3% HR/FB ratio and 49% hard contact through three starts in 2019. Eovaldi’s cut fastball and slider have not been effective and both rate well below average this year according to Brooks Baseball.
The Yankees farm system is shining along with a couple of low-key acquisitions, allowing them to stay afloat offensively despite all those injuries. Everyone in the lineup logged a hit last night, with No. 9 hitter Mike Tauchmann driving in four runs.
Since Eovaldi struggled with his control against lefties and has allowed LHB to go 10-for-32 (.370) so far this season, Tauchmann and Brett Gardner might bat higher in the order tonight.
The Final Word
While trends eventually shift during the MLB season, those changes can move at a glacial pace. The Red Sox should eventually snap out of their funk, but may not be able to do so on the second night of this short series in New York.
Just over half of bets and money are coming in on the Yankees (-107 on DraftKings Sportsbook) after last night’s beatdown of the slumping Sox.
The Under (9 runs on BetStars Sportsbook) is also seeing a lot of sharp action with 72% of the money coming down under that relatively high total.
Chris Sale came out strong on Tuesday with a serious uptick in velocity, indicating the urgency in the Red Sox dugout. Expect Eovaldi to do the same, keeping this game relatively low scoring before turning it over to Boston’s hot bullpen.
New York also has a great bullpen and given Happ’s history of success against Boston and the Red Sox offensive struggles, we lean towards the Under once again.
The Pick: Under (9 runs)