Free MLB Picks: Finding The Value In The Mariners vs. Red Sox Game

Friday, June 17, 2016 10:00 AM GMT

Roenis Elias makes his first start of the year for the Red Sox when they host the Seattle Mariners Friday night. Can Elias beat the MLB odds after beating up on minor leaguers?

The Boston Red Sox are absolutely killing it at the plate. David Ortiz (1.122 OPS) is 40 years old, and he's never been better. Neither has Jackie Bradley Jr. (.967 OPS), or Xander Bogaerts (.927 OPS), or Chris Young (.915 OPS). They're the main reasons why the Red Sox lead the majors in nearly every category across the board.

Now all they need is some pitching. According to Fangraphs, Boston's starting rotation ranks No. 21 overall in value at 3.3 WAR. Maybe Roenis Elias can do something about it Friday night (7:10 p.m. ET) when he makes his first start of the season against his former club, the visiting Seattle Mariners. Elias was on fire during his last two starts in Pawtucket, and the MLB odds board has the Red Sox priced at –120. Deal, or no deal?


Parklife
No deal. As well as the Sox (37-27, +3.54 units) have done so far, they're looking at the wrong end of a mismatch on the mound. Elias (4.24 FIP lifetime) has the stuff of a closer, not a starter, and making the move from Safeco Field to Fenway Park hasn't helped his cause. Safeco is No. 24 in park factor for runs this year at 0.874 runs. Fenway is ninth at 1.072 runs.

While Boston's fill-in No. 5 starter takes the hill, the Mariners (35-31, –3.00 units) are near the top of their rotation with Hisashi Iwakuma (4.45 FIP). He's delivered four quality starts in his last five outings; Iwakuma also delivered us a payday versus the San Diego Padres on May 31, paying out at –192 on the closing line as Seattle rolled to a 16-4 victory.

Seattle's not too bad at the plate, either. The M's are No. 7 this year in hitting at .767 OPS, improving to No. 5 overall at .777 OPS when they hit the road. They're not Boston strong, but they're strong enough that FiveThirtyEight projects the Sox to win Friday's game just 53 percent of the time, or –113 on our svelte SBR Betting Odds Converter.

Fantasy Corner
As a former Mariner, Elias hasn't put in too much work against current Seattle hitters. But catcher Chris Iannetta (.742 OPS) has a double and a walk versus Elias in four at-bats, and he's only owned in 9.2 percent of ESPN leagues at press time. You need a catcher, right? Good ones are hard to find.

Meanwhile, of course the M's are going in our MLB picks. Ortiz could very well light up Iwakuma on Friday; he's 4-for-8 lifetime with a pair of homers. However, Brock Holt (.956 OPS vs. Iwakuma) is out with a concussion, so we'll take our chances here at the home office.

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Free MLB Pick: Mariners +115
Best Line Offered: at WagerWeb
Record: 12-13 ML, 3-0 Totals +1.99 units