Flaming Red Sox Are Your Winning MLB Pick Once Again

Jason Lake

Saturday, May 28, 2016 12:43 PM UTC

Saturday, May. 28, 2016 12:43 PM UTC

Marcus Stroman is a nice young pitcher, but he's too chalky to make the Toronto Blue Jays the right MLB pick for Saturday's matchup with the Boston Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays
After all they accomplished in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays weren't expected to be an average team this year. But that's where we are 50 games into the regular season. The Jays are 25-25 for a loss of 6.20 betting units. They've got the No. 18-ranked batting order in the bigs at 4.9 WAR (according to Fangraphs), and the No. 11-ranked pitching rotation at 5.2 WAR. Toronto's not going to make the postseason at this rate.

The Boston Red Sox (29-19, 6.46 units), on the other hand, are well on their way to winning the American League East. They're the best team on the junior circuit, based on their record and their plus-70 run differential. Yet they're +115 road dogs on our MLB odds board for Saturday's matinee (1:07 p.m. ET, MLBN) at the ol' SkyDome.

The Stroman Fallacy
That's because Marcus Stroman (3.42 FIP) is pitching for the Blue Jays. But Stroman is also the reason why the Blue Jays are overvalued in this matchup. That's our hypothesis, at least. FiveThirtyEight projects Saturday's game as a toss-up, with Stroman basically canceling out Boston's Rick Porcello (3.73 FIP). That's another thing Toronto fans wouldn't have expected.

Unless those fans have been looking at the advanced stats. Which people in certain demographics think is lame, according to some tripe I read recently on the Worldwide Leader. Apparently it makes me a bad person to use numbers to point out how Stroman has only performed at a very good level this year, and not like an ace. Or to suggest that Porcello, who was saddled with a .332 BABIP in 2015, isn't that far behind Stroman as far as quality is concerned. But what do I know? I'm just some nerd with a computer taking all the joy out of baseball.

Fantasy Corner
Porcello's fat BABIP will skew his numbers against the Jays, which don't look very good at .818 OPS compared to Boston's .564 OPS versus Stroman. But we'll recommend some Toronto lumber for your fantasy team. 1B Justin Smoak (.797 OPS) is getting regular work with Chris Colabello on the suspended list; Smoak is 7-for-18 lifetime against Porcello with three homers and a 1.421 OPS, and he's only owned in 4.2 percent on ESPN leagues. Put those numbers on your toast.

Smoak is living up to his name, but there are problems with this Jays lineup, starting with SS Troy Tulowitzki (.673 OPS). He's got a balky quad, and an unfortunate .232 BABIP, but moving away from Coors Field definitely hasn't helped Tulo's production level. This is Bob Beamon in Mexico City we're talking about here. Meanwhile, OF Kevin Pillar (.643 OPS) is there for defense, and catcher Russell Martin (.480 OPS) is in need of a resurrection at age 33. Gonna have to go with the Red Sox here for our MLB picks. There might not be many more opportunities to bet Boston for value this year.

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Free MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox +115
Best Line Offered: at YouWager
Record: 8-9 ML, 2-0 Totals (+1.29 units)

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