Welcome back to Friday Night Lines, your weekly home for casual baseball bettors or even baseball fans who just enjoy making picks for fun. Many of you have gone through a long week at work and now it's time to kick back with some of America's pastime on a Friday night with a beverage of your choosing.
I really took last week on the chin. I liked the White Sox over the Astros and they took two of three, but Friday was the lone loss of the series and that's the one I picked. And though they still win most games at home, I shouldn't have -- hindsight! -- picked the Rockies over the Dodgers, because it's still the Rockies and Dodgers. We're back below water, though in this sport that isn't entirely bad (look at the odds after my record).
Season record: 23-24 (1-2 last week) ... +732 (13-6 in last 19 moneyline picks)
All lines are courtesy of William Hill Sportsbook.
And as always, best of fortune to our gambling friends.
For the first time since he signed with the Yankees, Gerrit Cole is taking the mound with his team as a betting underdog. Let's take that action and ride the Cole Train. Thursday's series opener in Fenway wound up being a tough loss for New York and the Red Sox are the better team overall, but with this pitching matchup they are not.
Rodriguez shut the Yankees down in 5 2/3 scoreless innings last time out, but the second time in eight days will be the charm here for the Yankees' offense. He actually has a 5.19 ERA this season but has only given up five earned runs in 17 innings against the Yankees. Instead of worrying about if he "owns" them or something like that, we're going to bet they are due to bust things open against him.
Cole struggled initially, conveniently for some, around the time of the outward "sticky stuff" crackdown. Then on July 10, he threw a shutout against the Astros in Minute Maid Park. That's not only a shutout, that's a big boy shutout. Last time out, he struck out 11 Red Sox in six innings while allowing just one run.
Dare I say he's back?
Yeah, he's back. Ride the Underdog Cole Train.
Pick: Yankees moneyline (+105)
One can generally fit the "hottest team in baseball" around a number of teams, depending upon how large or small a window is desired. If we're talking since the All-Star break, it's probably the Tigers. They are 7-0 with a +30 run differential in the second half. Naysayers could write that off to poor competition and/or small sample fluke.
Larger, though, the Tigers have actually been more than competent for most of the season. There's a bit of a lingering stigma from them being so bad the past few years and out of the gate this season, but they aren't as bad as many people believe they are. They were 9-24 through May 7. Since then, they are 38-27. Among AL teams, only the Astros, Rays, White Sox and Red Sox have been better since. That's not a small sample, either.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Royals. They were once 16-9 and in first place. Even after a season-altering 11-game losing streak they appeared to right the ship and were 29-26 through June 4. Since then they are an MLB-worst 10-29.
Peralta has a 0.34 ERA in his last five starts and though it screams "regression is coming," the Royals offense isn't good enough to scare me. Instead, I'm inspired to bet this stretch continues for at least one more start.
The best part of all this is we get underdog odds, likely due to the Tigers being on the road here.
Pick: Tigers on the moneyline (+105)
Rangers at Astros, 8:10 p.m. ET
The Rangers are an utter embarrassment right now. Since the All-Star break, they are 0-7 with a minus-44 run differential. They are an atrocious 13-37 on the road.
The Astros' plus-135 run differential is second in baseball to the Dodgers.
We could break this down any number of ways, but the bottom line is that this is a total mismatch. The Astros are the better baseball team by leaps and bounds. And the odds we can get on them winning by more than one run are pretty solid, so let's not worry about getting cute and just take the action.
If you want something statistical, here's one thing: Allard is left-handed. The Astros lead the majors in batting average against lefties while sitting second in on-base percentage and seventh in slugging. By several advanced metrics (including wRC+) they are the best team in baseball against southpaws.
The offense will feast and we'll win.
Pick: Astros on the -1.5 run line (-110)