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The Red Sox offense has been amongst the best in baseball this season.
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Wednesday, July 25th. If you’ve been looking for our picks the last few days, we apologize - we thought we could get our picks up while attending a wedding up in the mountains of Southern California, but a limited amount of sleep and wifi prevented that from happening.
We were ready to make a pick for Tuesday, but nothing on the schedule really stood out to us as a good value play. Remember, we’re not just here to just throw out picks and cross our fingers - we’re here to make sharp picks and win. Luckily, there’s a game on Wednesday’s slate that looks real juicy to us, so let’s dive deep into it.
Boston Red Sox (Price) at Baltimore Orioles (Bundy)
While Vegas and the general public favored the Yankees in the AL East coming into this year, we’ve been on team Boston since the get-go. Despite losing one game of their lead on Tuesday, things have never looked better for our +150 bet on the Red Sox, as they now have a 5 game lead on the Yankees and the best record in baseball by a pretty wide margin.
The main reason we took the Red Sox this season was their offense, which we thought would rebound in a big way from an all-around disappointing season in 2017. The hitters have indeed bounced back - more on them in a second - but a big part of their success has been the dominance of their pitching. We were unsure whether they would be able to match the success they had last year (4th in WAR), but they’ve actually improved due in large part to the depth of their rotation and the improved health of guys like David Price.
Despite having an ERA nearly a point higher than last season’s mark, Price has nearly matched his 2017 production due to his improved health - he’s already pitched 40 more innings than he did all of last year. While that’s a good sign for the Red Sox (and for the remaining 4 years, $127 million left on his contract), what they would like to see next is the rest of his stats start to improve, and the projections see that happening for the former #1 overall pick.
The key stat for Price is his homer rate - his HR/9 is 1.42, far and away the highest of his career. He’s allowing just a few additional fly balls than he did during his dominant seasons with Tampa and Detroit, but not enough to where the huge surge in homers makes sense. If those pesky dingers stop flying out of the park at an excessive rate, Price should be able to lower his ERA into the threes and provide excellent middle-of-the-rotation production for the Sox as they head into the playoffs.
Another top draft pick will take the mound on Wednesday, as 2011’s #4 overall pick Dylan Bundy will take the mound for the Orioles. While the hype surrounding Bundy was strong as he joined the big club for good in 2016, things haven’t gone particularly well for him so far in his career and they appear to be getting worse.
Unlike Price, Bundy has always allowed a higher-than-average homer rate, and this year it’s hit rock bottom - he’s allowed the second highest HR/9 in the majors amongst qualified starters. Blend that with a fair amount of walks as Bundy does, and you’re looking at a below average major league starter. Even if he gets his homer rate somewhat under control, Bundy’s ERA projects to head northwards of where it currently stands (4.57).
Speaking of homers: the Red Sox hit lots of them - they’re currently 3rd in total home runs and 2nd in slugging percentage. Mookie Betts is probably the best second-best hitter on the planet, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts are rebounding from down seasons, and JD Martinez is second in the majors in homers at 29. This is clearly one of the best offenses in baseball.
Meanwhile, the Orioles have been literally the worst offense in the major leagues, and they just lost their best hitter (by a mile) in Manny Machado to the Dodgers. With Machado gone, literally the only Oriole posting an above average wRC+ is Mark Trumbo. Their eyes are set on the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft, and this is the perfect offense to help make that a reality.
While the line obviously favors the Red Sox, we’re surprised that it isn’t much higher. Typically in mismatches like these you’ll see a moneyline exceeding -200, even with the favored team on the road. We love the value in Red Sox -175 on Wednesday - David Price should have no trouble shutting down a weak Orioles offense, while Boston’s sluggers should be salivating at the chance to face the homer-prone Bundy.
That’ll do it for Wednesday’s picks - we’ll see you back here on Thursday. As always: good luck to all of you degenerates out there, and let’s get a win!