Elite American League Teams and Run Line Plays
When the Red Sox swept the LA Angels this week in Boston, they improved their run-line record in victory to 24-4 at Fenway Park this season after winning all three games by 2 or more runs. As noted in my recent MLB article, the Red Sox (55-27) are an elite team playing .671 baseball and also 28-12 at home this season with 24 of those wins by 2 or more runs. So too are the New York Yankees (52-26), another elite team that owns a MLB-best home record of 29-11. The Yankees have won 20 home games by 2 or more runs (9 home wins by 1 run), and the Bronx Bombers host the rival Red Sox this weekend in a key 3-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The two rivals are 3-3 against each other this season, and Boston (+115) appears to be the value play in the series opener in a pitching match-up replay of lefties Eduardo Rodriguez versus CC Sabathia. Rodriguez allowed just 1 hit over 5 shutout innings with 8 strikeouts in Boston’s 5-4 road win May 10 while Sabathia was hit hard allowing 4 runs and 9 hits over four innings. Rodriguez (9-2) has shown off his strikeout stuff (92 Ks) and is using his secondaries more this year. Sabathia did dominate Boston in four starts last year, but he does not possess solid peripherals and a 4.20 FIP and league-average 4.30 DRA suggest Boston can get to the hefty lefty again. A first 5 inning play on the Red Sox and Rodriguez as ‘Dog is a value play and favorable match-up.
When betting on these elite teams, including the Houston Astros (55-28, .663), you’re going to often pay a premium price to support them, and the run line is another wagering option which allows you to reduce risk and gain a better return. The risk of course is laying the 1 ½ runs, but with the Astros winning 17 of their 25 home games by 2 or more runs, you can see that these elite American League teams are winning a majority of their home games by 2 or more runs. Houston has also won a MLB-best 30 road games this season. The key is to get a positive pitching match-up and an opponent that is not likely to perform well, or is struggling to score runs while now facing an elite team and perhaps a premium starting pitcher.
If you’re wondering what percentage of Major League Baseball games end in a 1-run decision, the answer is approximately 28% of the time. Since 2011 and over the last 35,773 MLB games, 10,228 of them have ended in a 1 run margin.
There are certain situations where teams are more likely to struggle after suffering a 1-run loss. That includes after losing as an underdog and now that wounded puppy is a big home ‘Dog of at least +140. We add a bullpen parameter and a team struggling to score and is leaving runners on base and we have a powerful play against these destitute ‘Dogs.
Friday, June 29, 2018
Houston Astros -187
Tampa Bay Rays +170
The Tampa Bay Rays (39-41) have played back-to-back 1-0 games and lost to the Astros 1-0 Thursday, June 28. The Rays stuck out 10 times and had just 6 hits while being shut down by Lance McCullers (9-3, 3.55 ERA). The day before, Tampa Bay won 1-0 but had just 4 hits over 7 innings against Max Scherzer (10-4, 2.04 ERA). Now the Rays are taking back a huge price (+175) against the Astros and elite right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-1), who has been sensational for the Astros since coming over from Pittsburgh in an offseason trade. On the Astros elite starting staff, Cole leads the team in strikeouts with 146 and has allowed just 62 hits in 105 innings. His elite profile also includes a 0.90 WHIP and .170 batting average against, and Cole is 4-0 in six road starts and the Astros have scored 13, 5, 9, 5, 4 and 8 runs in those six road games. The Rays Wilmer Font makes just his fifth start and ninth appearance this season, and while his two recent short starting stints were favorable against the Yankees, he’s in a tough spot along with his Rays teammates against the Astros tonight.
Play the Houston Astros on the run line (-125) and consider laying a half run on Cole (-130) and the Astros in the first 5 innings.
While the low total suggests some run line risk, the favorable pitching match-up combined with our profile situation results in a strong record playing against the Rays in this spot with the play on teams outscoring the opponent by more than 3 runs per game.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay