Red Sox vs. Blue Jays - Finding Betting Value In Critical Series Opener

Rick Porcello in his pitcher duties at a game

Jay Pryce

Friday, September 9, 2016 6:47 PM GMT

Friday, Sep. 9, 2016 6:47 PM GMT

The Red Sox hold a slim one-game lead over the Blue Jays in the AL East, as the two open a critical three-game stand in Toronto Friday night. Get your pick and betting preview here.

Boston Red Sox (78-61) – Rick Porcello (13-3, 3.23 ERA)
Boston, on the tail end of a nine-game road trip, took each of its last two away series 2-1 against Oakland and San Diego. Hoping for similar results in Toronto before heading home to take on Baltimore on Monday. Manager John Farrell turns to the team’s winningest pitcher, Rick Porcello (19-3), for the opener.

The Red Sox are 21-7 when the right-handed sinkerball takes the pill this season. He has been a workhorse lately, pitching into the seventh inning in each of his last eight starts. He’s 6-1 with a single no-decision during the stretch, lowering his ERA from 3.47 to 3.23.

Porcello has endured some trouble against the Jays in his career, though, going just 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts). Nearly half of these occurred in a Tigers uniform. “Pretty Ricky” has only put in one quality start in seven outings at Rogers Centre, he and the pen allowing four or more runs in every contest. In three against in a Tigers uniform and four donning Boston rags, Porcello and the relief allow an average of 7.0 runs per game.

The game opened at +100 odds for the Sox, adjusting to -115 just hours before first pitch. Boston is 8-12 as short-priced chalk of -130 or less this season, losing roughly 25 percent investment for bettors at -118 average across the board.

 

Toronto Blue Jays (77-62) – Marco Estrada (8-7, 3.56 ERA)
Toronto is 12-4 in its last 16 home games against AL East foes since taking a three-game series against Boston 2-1 back in late May. It returns home from a nine-game road trip where the team went 3-6 overall. The bats were cold away from Rogers Centre, knocking in just 3.9 runs per game.

Marco Estrada commands the hill for skipper John Gibbons. The 2016 All-Star is just 1-3 in his last five starts, yielding 19 earned runs on 33 hits in 26 innings. Control has been a key issue during the rough stretch, gifting 10 free bases to go with 22 strikeouts. Estrada has pitched well against the Sox. He is 4-3 with a 3.73 ERA in eight lifetime appearances (six starts).

Despite just a 3-5 mark in 12 starts at Rogers Centre this season, Estrada is allowing a low .206 batting average to opponents, accompanying a respectable 1.15 WHIP. Poor run support has been his downfall in front of family and friends, supplemented with just 3.2 runs per game per start.

Toronto has tossed the first pitch as a home underdog this season just six times, going 2-4 overall. Each outing has come against stellar starting pitching (Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber), and prior to the All-Star break. It has generated more than two runs through the first five innings only once, five in a 17-1 drubbing of the Indians.

 

Final Analysis
The OVER through the first five innings presents the most value as my MLB pick. Estrada is slumping and has allowed three runs or more through five frames in five of his last six home starts. Porcello, despite his current Cy Young-attracting form and numbers, has departed Toronto yielding less than three runs through the first half just twice in seven career starts. Look for one, if not both, to get jumped on early.

 

Free MLB Pick: Over 9
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

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