Welcome to the Thursday, July 25 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.
7/25/19 MLB Betting Pick:
Boston Red Sox (56-47) vs. New York Yankees (66-35)
It was 15 years ago yesterday that Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez started a brawl, Bill Mueller hit a grand slam during an epic comeback, and the Red Sox began a miraculous second-half run to erase a 10-game deficit and catch the Yanks atop the A.L. East.
Do these Red Sox have a similar miracle up their sleeve?
Now 11 games out of first place, Boston needs to find a rallying point in order to gain some ground in this pivotal four-game series with New York.
The Yankees are 6-1 against the Sox this year and have outscored their rivals, 56-36. Boston’s offense (and pitching) remains wildly inconsistent. Meanwhile, New York has won 7 of 9 and is top 10 in collective ERA (4.12) and batting average (.270) this year. The Yankees lead the Majors in runs scored (588) with the Sox (582) coming in at second, so the scoreboard operator should earn his money at hitter-friendly Fenway.
Boston starts Rick Porcello, who had a lot of success with a 2.56 ERA over 11 starts against the Yankees prior to two rough outings against the Bronx Bombers this season. They tagged him for 5 ER over 4.2 IP at Yankee Stadium on June 1. Then, Porcello coughed up 6 ER over 0.1 IP in the carnival atmosphere at London Stadium on June 29.
Porcello has given up 27 ER over his last five outings and is hardly generating any swings on pitches out of the strike zone. He’s been slightly better with a 5.12 ERA at Fenway this year and is holding RHBs to a .243 average with a 3.13 FIP in home starts. That improves prospects against the righty-heavy Yankees lineup, but a good start will be essential for Porcello.
DJ LeMahieu, for one, has changed the Yankees offense with a steady approach out of the leadoff spot. He’s 2-for-4 off Porcello and rocking a 27.3% LD Rate on the road against RHPs.
Then, Aaron Judge is 10-for-29 with 3 HR over the last 7 days and has regained his rhythm. Edwin Encarnacion is 14-for-47 with six doubles and 3 HR in his career against Porcello, adding another dangerous bat for him to manage.
Along with LeMahieu, the Yankees offense has become far more consistent thanks to the efforts of Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit. Those “New Yankees” are a combined 7-for-11 in a small sample against Porcello.
Porcello has had success against lefty-hitting Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks, but both are swinging hot bats right now. Gary Sanchez (groin) looks headed toward the IL. This leaves Austin Romine to step in behind the plate.
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka also saw his ERA inflate with a rough outing (6 ER over 0.2 IP) on the makeshift diamond at London Stadium. He’s struggled since as well, allowing 11 ER and 5 HR in his last three starts.
Tanaka is averaging only 91.6 MPH on his fastball. And batters have pummeled his split-fingered fastball this year. He does rate 14.5 runs above average with his slider, but Boston is a top-five team against sliders (3.7 rating) over the last 30 days.
Rafael Devers is the most dangerous adversary for Tanaka. He rates 6 runs above average against sliders and 12.2 runs above average against fastballs. Devers is posting a 37.7% hard contact rate against RHPs at Fenway and owns an overall .409 wOBA since the start of May. He’s 5-for-11 in a limited sample against Tanaka.
Boston’s other big bats have also had success against Tanaka. Mookie Betts (14-for-43), J.D. Martinez (8-for-18), and Andrew Benintendi (8-for-25) are all hitting well over .300 in their careers against the homer-prone righty.
Tanaka gave up 7 ER and 3 HR over two starts at Fenway last year and is posting a 5.40 ERA with a rough 2.16 HR/9 ratio on the road this year. He’s been most vulnerable with a 7.17 FIP and 2.70 HR/9 ratio on the road against lefties. Thus, target Devers, Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and even Brock Holt when building MLB DFS lineups tonight.
Note that Boston leads the A.L. in collective batting average (.277) and the Majors in doubles (120) when playing at home. While their pitching has been inconsistent, the Sox are averaging 5.7 runs over their last 10 home games.
The Final Word
While they can’t possibly struggle as badly as they did in London, both starters are capable of turning in a stinker at Fenway Park. With clear skies and 80-degree temperatures expected in Boston, the ball could fly out of the yard early and often tonight. So clearly, we’re leaning towards the Over (11 runs on FanDuel Sportsbook) as a strong bet.
The Yankees lead the Majors with a 119 wRC+, and Boston is fifth with a 113 wRC+ against RHPs this year. Yankees games are 67-49-4 against the Over.
The Yankees may have owned the Sox so far this season, but we’re expecting the momentum to swing. Take the Red Sox on the Moneyline (+110 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook) since they’ve had their way with Tanaka and will be highly motivated after their frustrating (and somewhat controversial) loss to Tampa on Wednesday.
The Yankees bullpen is also a bit depleted. Dellin Betances (lat) is unavailable, and several other relievers will be gassed from a tough series with Minnesota.
The Sox are not getting great odds on the Run Line on DK or FD sportsbook. On 888sport.com the Yankees are getting good odds (-105) on the Run Line, but they’re not a great bet at -139 on the Moneyline.
The Lean: Over
The Pick: Red Sox Moneyline