MLB Friday best bets: Red Sox to rebound vs. Royals

MLB Friday best bets: Red Sox to rebound vs. Royals

After an extremely quiet Thursday, MLB action is back in full force Friday.

A plethora of plays pop off the board. Let’s waste no time getting to three of my favorites.

Red Sox (-185) @ Royals (+155)

The Red Sox have dropped four games in a row, dealing a severe blow to their chances of earning a wild-card spot.

It’s not over until it’s over, though. A date with Jordan Lyles and the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered to get back on track.

Lyles is in the midst of a truly miserable campaign. He’s sporting a 6.51 ERA through 25 starts, and things continue to head in the wrong direction.

He’s conceded at least three earned runs in seven straight starts, allowing 34 in total. That’s nearly five per start since the middle of July, which is a wild number when you consider Lyles completed at least six innings only twice. He isn’t pitching that deep into games but is still giving up boatloads of runs.

Things aren’t going to get any easier for Lyles against the Red Sox. He owns a sky-high xwOBA and ISO against left-handed batters, and – wouldn’t you know it – almost all of Boston’s notable bats are lefties. Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers, Mastaka Yoshida and Co. should have a field day.

Assuming Boston’s offense can hit the ground running – and there’s nothing in the data to suggest it won’t – James Paxton should be able to handle the rest.

The Royals are hitting .256 and have hit fewer homers than all but the Rays against left-handed pitching over the past two months. They’re not a major threat to Paxton, who’s conceded two or fewer earned runs in 67% of his starts this season.

Look for the Red Sox to lead – perhaps comfortably – through five innings of work.

Bet: Red Sox F5 -0.5 (-125)

Mitch Keller over 16.5 outs

Keller has gone through his share of ups and downs this season, but one thing has remained consistent: his ability to eat innings. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he can grind his way through a good chunk of each game for the Pirates.

He’s gone over 16.5 outs in 70% of his starts this season and averaged a healthy 18.2 per game. That means, on average, he’s pitching into the seventh inning.

Keller enters this game in strong form. He conceded just three runs over his past three starts, all of which came against teams that are holding down a playoff spot or just outside the wild-card picture. His underlying profile is also trending in the right direction. He owns a healthy xwOBA below .300 over the past month.

The 27-year-old faces a mouthwatering matchup against the Cardinals. Believe it or not, they rank dead last in xwOBA versus right-handed pitching over the last 15 days.

I expect Keller will complete six innings in this spot, so his out total of 16.5 looks very attractive.

Odds: -130 (playable to -140)

Eduardo Rodríguez under 1.5 walks

The White Sox don’t draw many walks, particularly against lefties. They’ve earned multiple free passes in just three of the last 11 games versus left-handed starting pitchers.

Since July 1, they’ve walked in just 5.8% of their at-bats against lefties. Only the Marlins, Athletics, and Royals have fared worse in that category – and the gap between the White Sox and the former two is negligible.

Beyond the matchup, this is a very good spot for Rodríguez to pitch a clean game. His ball rate is a better-than-average 33.7% over the last month, putting him in the company of stars like Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

With Rodríguez consistently hammering the strike zone and the White Sox struggling in terms of discipline, I don’t expect control to be an issue in this game.

Back Rodríguez, who hasn’t walked two batters (or more) in back-to-back games since mid-May, to keep that streak alive.

Odds: -120 (playable to -135)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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