Boston Red Sox @ Baltimore Orioles (7:05 ET)
Favorite: Red Sox -115
Pitchers: Kutter Crawford (4.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) vs. Jordan Lyles (4.48 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
One of the few godsends in this Red Sox season has been the emergence of Kutter Crawford. The 2016 draftee has finally emerged in the major leagues and appears here to stay. While he struggled to begin the season with an 8.44 ERA over his first 10 innings in relief, he's found his footing since being thrust as a starter. He's allowed more than 2 runs just 3 times in his last 8 starts, and more than 3 runs just once. It's not like he's been good just getting out of innings either, he's not allowing many hits. Just 34 hits in his last 45 innings to be exact. Naturally, Crawford mixes in his cutter exceptionally well with his four-seamer but really gets batters guessing mixing in his curveball, changeup, and slider. If he can give Boston five more exceptional innings they'll look good going into the latter stages of this game.
Jordan Lyles has been Mr. Consistent ofr the Orioles over the past few months. Much like Crawford, Lyles has only allowed more than 3 runs twice over his last 9 starts. The difference between the two is that he's allowing far more hits (53 in last 49 innings) and has a bad habit of giving up a few walks a game too. He's primarily a fastball pitcher but one thing that pops off the page is that he doesn't have a go-to pitch to get batters out on. Each of his four major pitches have a batting average allowed of .290 or greater with the exception of his slider at .241. Given how the Red Sox bats have been lately winning 5 of their last 7 games, I expect them to come out of the gates strong on Friday evening knowing they desperately need to win this series to keep their playoff hopes alive. Give me the Red Sox F5 ML.
Pick: Red Sox F5 ML -115 (1u)
Texas Rangers @ Minnesota Twins (8:10 ET)
Favorite: Twins -140
Pitchers: Martin Perez (2.79 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) vs. Dylan Bundy (4.76 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Both of these outfits are 5-5 over their last 10 games, but both also have much different aspirations going into the final stages of the season. The Rangers sit 12 games below .500 and 10.5 games back of the Wildcard race, while the Twins are right in the the thick of it all. 1.5 games back of the Blue Jays and Rays and merely one game back from the Guardians for the division lead, the Twins know just how vital each game is.
Enter Dylan Bundy, a starter last season who I faded in abundance and made good money doing so in 2021. This season he's turned in a much more consistent season and the ERA feels harsh (3.85 xERA). Bundy has had some questionable outings lately allowing multiple runs in 5 of his last 6 outings, but he's faced some of the best offenses in the majors and didn't allow a ton of contact through the outings. He's only allowed 32 hits over his last 33.1 innings and doesn't walk batter at all (5%, 90th percentile). He gets in trouble allowing consecutive hits and not getting out of innings before the damage is done. If he can put it all together like he has his last two outings (9 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER), he should have another solid 5 innings. The Rangers have been average offensively and without big bats to blow the game wide open I doubt they'll explode on Bundy.
Martin Perez on the other side has finally shown the regression I've been anticipating all year. The former Red Sox and waiver player has been the pickup of the year for the Rangers, but is showing just why so many passed on him lately. The 31-year-old hasn't allowed an abundance of hits over his last 48.2 innings (39) but he gets far too cute and walks batter (23). That's a whip of 1.27 and teams like the Twins will make those baserunners pay like they did back on July 9th. In that outing Perez allowed 6 runs over 6 innings and while I don't expect it to be that ugly today by any means, I'll take my chances the Twins are leading after five innings.
Pick: Twins F5 ML -130 (1u)
Adam Hunger - AP