Recent team trends against the total are at odds with the career numbers of the two starters in this game. Our MLB handicapper analyzes the pitching matchup and gives his Saturday MLB Pick.
Ah yes, back at it again after the All-Star Break. A good time to get everything in order before the grind of the second half of the season. I for one enjoyed the lovely benefits of public air travel over the break - and witnessed a pedestrian that had gotten hit and killed by a Ford F-250. Really puts the term 'luck' into perspective. Let's get to it, shall we?
The Los Angeles Angels host the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night, after a great pitching duel that ended in a Mike Trout walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning on Friday. The Angels won that game 1-0 and are now 49-40 on the season and in first place in the AL West, as the Houston Astros have lost eight of their last 10 games. The loss by the Red Sox dropped them to 42-48 as they find themselves in the cellar of the AL East. The MLB odds opened with the hometown Angels favored at -145 on the money line at Pinnacle, with the O/U total listed at 7.5 at multiple sportsbooks. With tropical storm Dolores churning south of the LA area, we do have a chance for some rain at game time, but at the least it’s going to be muggy and around 78 F at first pitch.
Projected Angel starter Garrett Richards has a respectable 9-6 record, 3.53 ERA, and 77/35 K/BB rate over the season thus far. Luckily for him, he hasn’t pitched against the Red Sox every game this year. Richards has struggled against the Red Sox in his career, posting a 6.05 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, .329 BAA, while giving up 27 hits in 19.1 IP. He was beat by the light hitting Mariners in his last time out on July 9th, giving up 12 hits over 5.1 IP. All told, Richards has been pretty inconsistent since a stretch in April and May where he gave up only 7 runs over 5 starts.
Boston starter Rick Porcello got a big payday over the offseason, and promptly started to suck it up. I don’t know if it was the move from Detroit’s pitcher friendly park to Boston, but Porcello has a dreadfully bad case of dinger-itis. Porcello is running the highest fly ball rate of his career at 34.4%, and his highest HR/FB% of his career at 14.4%. He’s only given up 18 HR’s or less per season in his last five, but he’s already given up 16 so far this year in 100.2 IP. Looking at this, it is not surprising that Porcello is running a 5-9 record, 5.90 ERA, and .297 BAA. Porcello’s career numbers against the Angels are even worse with a 7.07 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and .326 BAA over 63.2 IP. Porcello has lost seven of his last ten starts.
MLB Pick: As team trends go, the Angels have posted under the total in their last five games at home. Additionally, these teams have posted under the total in 4 of the last 5 games when playing in Anaheim. Add in last night’s pitching duel and you have the recipe for the public to lock on the under. These trends could be one of the reasons that the juice on the total is shading towards the under since the lines opened (from +100 to -110 at Heritage Sports). However, I’m looking at these career numbers against each opponent by these starters and seeing a 6.05 and 7.07 ERA. That’s enough for me to take a flier on the over, as I think at least one of these starters is going to get lit up. Most likely Porcello, but Richards has his share of duds as well. Take the over of 7.5 at +105 at Pinnacle as your Saturday night MLB pick.