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Welcome back to LazyBets Free MLB Picks column. While most were watching Cavs-Warriors IV, the Indians and Twins were playing a thriller of their own. After taking an 8-0 lead, the Twins stormed back to tie the game at 8. Lucky for us, the Indians weren’t feeling as defeated as the Cavs were with the score tied at the end of regulation (what was J.R. thinking?!) - Francisco Lindor hit his second homer of the game (and fourth extra-base hit) to lead the Tribe to a 9-8 victory.
That gave us our third straight win in this picks column, bringing us to 46-31 on the year. A win tonight would bring us to a win rate above 60%, so we’re hungry to finish off this week with a W. We’re not taking the easy way out though - we’re taking an underdog tonight in the marquee matchup of the weekend. Let’s dive in.
Tonight, the Red Sox and Astros will play the second game of a four game set that pits the team with the best record in baseball (Boston) against the defending World Champs (Houston). Houston took the first game 4-2 - we avoided betting on that one because we don’t have much faith in Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and we’re on record as being slightly anti-Astros this year. It’s not because we think they’re a bad team - they still have as much talent as anyone, and could easily repeat as champs. We’re avoiding wagering on them because we believe they are being overrated by the general public, as most returning champions are. Their single game moneylines often favor them by too great of a margin, and tonight is no exception.
While Pomeranz has yet to earn our trust, it goes without saying that we trust Red Sox starter Chris Sale quite a bit - we’ve called him the best pitcher in baseball in this space earlier this season. We’ve bet on the Sox in Sale’s starts four times this year, and we’re remarkably only 2-2 in those bets. The bullpen was to blame in bothlosses , allowing two runs in the 9th in both to spoil quality starts by Sale. The Sox have the 4th best bullpen in baseball by xFIP, so we’re just going to chalk those up to variance and trust that it won’t keep happening. Sale’s ERA projects to remain under 3.00 for the remainder of the season - he’s an absolute beast. If you want to hear more of our thoughts on Sale, check out our newly redesigned archives - we’ve been gushing about him all year.
Astros starter Gerrit Cole is having a resurgent season himself, bouncing back from a so-so year with the Pirates to have a dominant first 11 starts with Houston, going 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA and an absolutely ridiculous 13.14 K/9 rate. Cole has certainly re-established himself as a top 15 pitcher in baseball, but he’s definitely over-performing at the moment. Based on projections, nearly all of his peripheral stats should start heading in the wrong direction - his K rate and LOB% should decline, as his BB rate and BABIP should increase. It won’t be drastic - Cole should still end up having a very good season, but today’s line suggests that he’s on the same level as Sale, and we’re not buying into that just yet.
Without diving too deep into the numbers, we’re going to call today’s offensive matchup a wash - the Astros were far an away the best offense last year, while this year the Red Sox have been better, ranking 2nd in wRC+ to the Astros’ 5th. The Red Sox should also be getting their MVP candidate Mookie Betts back from injury today - we’ve been keeping a close eye on the situation, and manager Alex Cora’s comments suggest he’ll be back today. Let’s hope comes back with a bang and continues his absolutely monstrous (.359/.437/.750) 2018 against Cole and the Astros.