Free MLB Picks and Parlays – Friday, August 10th, 2018
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The Indians' Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor have been two-way dynamos for the Tribe in 2018
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Friday, August 10th. Thursday’s pick was a huge success - we slaughtered the closing line by taking Seattle at +147 at BetOnline before it moved to +123 before game time. Then the game got off to a wonderful start, as the Mariners hit for the cycle before Justin Verlander even got an out - the first time that's happened since 2016. We ended up getting the win after Houston’s rally fell short in an 8-6 Mariners win.
We’ve gotten two straight wins when betting on underdogs, but we think that the best bet on Friday is an undervalued favorite. We’ll be taking a look at the Indians-White Sox matchup in Chicago, where we believe the team from Cleveland has a much better chance of winning than the oddsmakers do. Let’s get into it.
Cleveland Indians (Bieber) at Chicago White Sox (Rodon)
Those of you who have been following along over the last few months know about our affinity for Cleveland rookie Shane Bieber. We’ve bet on him in four of his first ten big league starts, and he's been good for us and the Indians - we’re 3-1 betting on him, and the Indians are 7-3 in his starts.
Despite that record, we think Bieber is still being underrated by the oddsmakers due to his 4.58 ERA. That number is deceiving though, as Bieber has only had one bad outing - a seven run beatdown by the Pirates in which he only pitched 1 ⅓ innings. Take away that one bad start and his ERA drops by a full point to 3.58.
As we’ve covered in previous articles, Bieber is not your typical rookie. He’s got exceptional control: his absolutely ridiculous 13-1 strikeout to walk ratio in the minors is what grabbed our eye initially, and it’s a big reason why we trusted us to bet on him in his first big league start. He’s been very solid in that category in the majors as well: amongst pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, Bieber is 15th out of 217 hurlers in K/BB%.
While Bieber’s ERA is deceptively high, Carlos Rodon’s is misleading in the other direction. Rodon was the third overall pick by the White Sox in 2014, and the ten starts he’s made since returning in June from shoulder surgery may be a hopeful sign for some: his 2.94 ERA does resemble what scouts pictured for the NC State lefty back before the draft.
However, it’s fair to say he’s been quite lucky - his .212 BABIP is absurdly low. To show you the stark contrast in the luck Friday’s starters have had this year, go sort this list of pitchers with at least 50 innings by BABIP, both ascending and descending. Come on, go do it. It'll be fun. Plus, Fangraphs deserves a click for all their wonderful content. Anyway, you’ll notice that Shane Bieber is dead last - 217 out of 217 - in BABIP at .376. If you flip the rankings the other direction, you’ll see Rodon clocking in at 5th best. Or 5th luckiest, if you see things from our perspective.
Rodon’s reduced strikeout rate is more eye-catching than anything to us - we hope he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery, but a stark drop in strikeouts is concerning. Besides the health concerns, we’re just not convinced Rodon is quality big league starter just yet.
He’ll have to face one of the best offenses in all of baseball on Friday: Cleveland ranks 4th in wRC+ and their lineup is as healthy as anybody’s (sorry, Houston). Judging by the lines being offered on Friday, we still think the betting public hasn’t quite caught up to just how good Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez have been. Those two should be able to provide some fireworks on Friday night against Rodon.
The White Sox also have a pretty healthy lineup, but that’s just about the best thing you can say about their offense. They haven’t been atrocious (21st in wRC+), but they just don’t have many hitters who project to be much better than league average. If Bieber can work his way around Jose Abreu (who’s having a down year anyway), he should fare well against Chicago’s inexperienced lineup.