MLB weekend best bets: Red Sox to rebound vs. Orioles
The playoff race is heating up, especially in the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays occupy two of the three wild-card spots, while the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox are knocking at the door.
This weekend, Baltimore and Boston are set to face off in a crucial three-game series that could help close the gap further if results elsewhere are favorable.
Game 1 of the series headlines our weekend best bets.
Red Sox (-110) @ Orioles (-110)
Aug. 19, 7:05 p.m. ET
The Red Sox are quietly playing some solid baseball, having won five of the last seven games - including three of four against division rivals like the New York Yankees and Orioles.
They're in a good spot to keep the ball rolling against Jordan Lyles and Baltimore on Friday.
Lyles hasn't pitched well of late, posting a 4.56 FIP and 5.26 xFIP over the past 30 days.
While he's done a reasonably good job of limiting hard contact, he's giving up a ton of fly balls - his 54.8 fly-ball rate this past month is actually the highest among all of Friday's expected starters.
When you consistently give up fly balls and are in the middle of the pack when it comes to inducing soft contact, you're asking for trouble. There's a reason Lyles has conceded homers at a pretty high clip (1.3 per nine innings) despite his strong HR/FB rate.
Although the Red Sox haven't exactly been raking against righties - they're 25th in wOBA versus right-handed pitching in August - there's reason to believe they can get to Lyles.
Lyles has struggled against many of these Red Sox hitters. He owns a .405 xwOBA through 94 at-bats against those on the roster.
J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Tommy Pham, in particular, have enjoyed success against Lyles while generating very hard contact.
Kutter Crawford isn't exactly Cy Young out there, but he is pitching well right now. He conceded two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts, managing to bottle up teams like the Yankees, Houston Astros, and Cleveland Guardians.
If he can limit the damage against the Orioles, the Red Sox should be able to provide enough run support to get a win.
Bet: Red Sox (-110)
Cardinals (TBD) @ Diamondbacks (TBD)
Aug. 20, 8:10 p.m. ET
The St. Louis Cardinals are scorching hot. They head into this series riding a four-game winning streak in which they outscored opponents 29-8.
They're firing on all cylinders at the dish. Regardless of what happens Friday, I expect them to enjoy plenty of success Saturday night against Madison Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bumgarner is really struggling right now. He allowed at least eight hits in four straight and five of six overall. In that span, he conceded at least four runs on five different occasions.
Considering his form, the Cardinals have to be the last team he'd want to face. Not only are they red hot at the plate - they're also lethal against left-handed pitching.
St. Louis ranks second in wOBA and third in ISO versus lefties since the beginning of July.
The Cardinals posted the second highest walk rate and third lowest strikeout rate during that stretch. They're hitting for power, clearly, but they've also done a fantastic job of grinding in at-bats and working pitchers into the ground.
They don't give opponents easy outs and have the patience required to take pitches and resist swinging unless the ball is where they want it to be.
Dakota Hudson isn't untouchable by any means but has pitched pretty well of late - he's conceded two runs or fewer in three of the past five and allowed just two homers over the last seven starts.
He'll give up hits and won't strike out many batters, but his ability to keep the ball in the park - often on the ground - generally helps him limit damage and avoid blow-up innings.
If he can do that again, the Cardinals have a great chance of winning.
Bet: Cardinals (projected line: -140)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.