Thursday MLB Betting Notes: Brawls, Brawls and More Brawls
Nothing like a little October baseball in April.
The New York Yankees (-107) held on to beat the Red Sox 10-7 at Fenway Park on Wednesday. David Price left with an injury, but not before getting beat down by the heart of the Bombers’ lineup in the only inning he threw. It was a much-needed turn of the tide for the Yankees, who saw Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton break out of their respective slumps.
But you won’t hear much of the above on the way into work Thursday. Nope, the train cars are going to be filled with people saying, “The rivalry is back!” after an old-fashioned donnybrook broke out between the two bitter rivals. It all started when Boston reliever Joe Kelly pegged Yankees designated hitter Tyler Austin square in the back, apparently retaliating for Austin’s slide into Brock Holt in the third inning.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the only baseball brawl Wednesday, as all heck broke loose between the Padres and Rockies in a matinee at Coors Field. (It feels like those two play every day, doesn’t it?)
The weather is finally starting to turn, and baseball players are dragging each other down to the ground by their windbreakers. This is what we’ve all been waiting for!
In today’s betting and fantasy preview, we will examine one afternoon and one night matchup on Thursday’s slate:
- Pirates at Cubs -176 (2:20 p.m. ET)
- Yankees at Red Sox -106 (7:10 p.m. ET)
Pittsburgh Pirates (+166) at Chicago Cubs (-176) | O/U: TBD
Trevor Williams (2-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 4.09 ERA)
2:20 p.m. ET
All Aboard: The Pirates are riding the luck train hard right now, and Trevor Williams might just be the conductor. He has two starts, two wins and sports an impressive 1.59 ERA. However, he has more walks than strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a home run. His xFIP of 5.09 speaks to that luck and suggests his luck will surely come to an end in the near future. For reference, Williams finished last year with a 4.07 ERA in 31 games (25 starts). The Cubs may be just the team to derail the train, as Williams has averaged a DraftKings +/- of -5.59 points in three career starts against them. — Mark Gallant
Home Hendricks: Kyle Hendricks has always looked much more comfortable on the mound at Wrigley Field, and the numbers support that sentiment. In his career, Hendricks’ ERA is almost a full run better at home than on the road in an almost identical sample size.
In 10 career starts against Pittsburgh, Hendricks is 4-2 with a 3.23 ERA, but two current Pirates have had his number. Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison are a combined 16-for-40 (.400) against the Cubs righty. — Stuckey
First Five Under? To follow up on the above, Hendricks will make his first home start of the year Thursday afternoon. In his career at Wrigley Field, the first five innings under is 27-17-5 (61.4%) for +8.5 units. In Hendricks’ last nine starts during the day (2:20 p.m. ET or earlier), the first five innings under is 7-1-1. — Evan Abrams
New York Yankees (-104) at Boston Red Sox (-106) | O/U 9
Sonny Gray (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA)
7:10 p.m. ET
Brouhaha: I’m sure a lot of you will want to tune into this one to see what happens after last night’s rhubarb. If you fall into that boat, you’ll likely want action on the game. Nothing wrong with that, birds of a feather ‘round here.
However, don’t let the brawl impact how you handicap the game. Sure, tempers may flare in this bitter rivalry. After all, these guys are only human and emotion can and does play a part game-to-game, but let’s be reasonable here.
Will the Real Rick Porcello Please Stand Up? Rick Porcello’s career in Boston has been a roller-coaster ride.
• 2015: 9-15, 4.92 ERA, 3.72 xFIP
• 2016: 22-4, 3.15 ERA, 3.89 xFIP
• 2017: 11-17, 4.65 ERA, 4.43 xFIP
• 2018: 2-0, 2.84 ERA, 3.19 xFIP
Is another Cy Young season in the works? I doubt it, but he should improve on an abysmal 2017. He allowed a major league-worst 38 home runs last season, while finishing with a career-low ground-ball percentage. He’ll definitely want to keep the ball on the ground against the Bronx Bombers, especially with the forecast calling for winds blowing out toward left-center at 10+ mph. — Mark Gallant
Porcello has started the season 2-0 after his first two starts, which he has only done once before in his 10-year career: 2016, when he won won his first five starts en route to winning the Cy Young. — Evan Abrams
Another Over? Thursday’s total opened at 9. In high-total games (9 or higher) between the Red Sox and Yankees in Boston, the over is 53-36-2 (59.6%) since 2005. — John Ewing
As Mark mentioned earlier, the wind is expected to be blowing out on average at more than 10 mph. Since 2016, Porcello has pitched in six games with such conditions — the over went 6-0. — Evan Abrams
Sonny Gray hasn’t had much success against the Red Sox in his career: 1-4, 4.93 ERA in six career starts. Those numbers get even worse when you isolate his three starts at Fenway Park: 0-2, 6.75 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, .339 BAA. One interesting note to keep in mind for fantasy (and betting) is Gray’s career splits against lefties/righties. As a right-handed pitcher, he has actually fared better against lefties in his career, as illustrated by the chart below. — Stuckey