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Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez has had a lot to get excited about this season, as he's got a 9-2 record for the first place Red Sox.
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB picks column for Friday, June 29th. We were feeling pretty good about yesterday’s bet until noted Reds-killer Eric Thames hit a go ahead three-run homer in the 7th inning that clinched a 6-4 Milwaukee win. He’s now got three homers in three career at bats against Reds reliever Amir Garrett. Hey Amir, maybe pitch around the guy a bit next time?
That one stings, but it’s not going to keep us down for long. We’re excited about the three game showdown between the Red Sox and Yankees starting this Friday, and we especially like the moneyline being offered on our favorite of the two AL East titans. Let’s get into it.
Boston Red Sox (Rodriguez) at New York Yankees (Sabathia)
We predicted a tight race for the AL East division crown in our preseason predictions, and it certainly hasn’t disappointed thus far - the two teams are separated by four thousandths of a pointin winning percentage. How’s that for neck-and-neck?
As you’ll also see in our preseason article, we honestly expected the Red Sox to be the slight favorites to start the year, and were surprised to see the Yankees slotted in as the even money favorites. That difference in public perception and our own lead us to wager on Boston at +150 to win the division in the preseason, and we’ve already made single game wagers on them 17 times this season for a record of 11-6.
We still think they’re being underrated, as is clearly seen in the moneyline for the opener of the three game set in the Bronx. Two lefties will take the mound on Friday, and while the one wearing pinstripes has the better ERA for now, all the signs point toward a sharp decline for 37 year old C.C. Sabathia as the year goes along.
By 2015, it appeared that the once-dominant Sabathia was fairly washed up after posting a mediocre 4.73 ERA in 29 starts for the Yankees as a 34 year-old. Pitchers don’t typically get better in their late 30s, but Sabathia’s ERA has suggested as much, as it’s gone from 4.73 in 2015 to 3.91 in 2016, 3.69 in 2017 and now sits at 3.18 in 2018.
However, the underlying stats suggest that Sabathia should start trending in the negative direction soon. His strikeout rate is barely passable anymore, and he’s inducing less ground balls than any season since 2009. Soon enough, the result is going to be plenty of line drives and homers, and we’re betting that we start seeing signs of his inevitable decline against the powerful Red Sox offense on Friday.
On the other hand, 25 year-old Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez appears to be coming into his own this season. His 3.86 ERA through 15 starts is solid, but his peripheral stats suggest that number could be even lower - his strikeout rate of 10.14 per nine is dynamite, and his walk rate is lower than his career mark. While Sabathia might have the better ERA for now, we’ll take Rodriguez moving forward without question, especially as age eventually catches up to C.C.
The gap in the offensive rankings between these two is about as narrow as the gap in the standings - the Yankees rank 2nd in wRC+ at 113, while the Red Sox are right behind them in 3rd at 112. However, it’s important to note that the Red Sox sluggers are as healthy as they’ve been all season after losing Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts for various lengths of time earlier in the year. Meanwhile, the Yankees just lost catcher/DH Gary Sanchez to a groin strain that should keep him out until late July.
Good luck to all of our LazyBets readers out there - we hope you checked our World Cup pick for Thursday, as we gave out a -135 winner there. If you missed it, don’t despair - we’ll be back with more picks and analysis on Saturday as the knockout stages begin.
Until then, let’s get a win!
Bet the Red Sox +115
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