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Rick’s Tuesday MLB Plays 7/12

Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays (7:10 ET)

Favorite: Red Sox -120

Total: 7.5

Pitchers: Chris Sale** vs. Corey Kluber (3.62 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

Corey Kluber has been to the Rays what Rich Hill has been to the Red Sox. An experienced, aging veteran that finds new ways to get it done and be successful. He’s remastered his game behind his 86mph cutter and curveball, and does all of the little things right. He doesn’t walk batters (3.9%) and pitches to soft contact with consistency. He’s coming off a brilliant performance against the Red Sox where he shut them out over 6 innings, allowing only 3 hits in the process. He faces off against the 7x all-star and 2x strikeout leader in 33-year-old Chris Sale, who makes his season debut after recovering from a rib stress-fracture he sustained back in February. A video of Sale destroying his minor league dugout after allowing 5 walks in 3.2 innings went viral 4 days ago, even though he only allowed 1 ER. Sale has a career 2.93 ERA against the Rays and in his 2 appearances last year he allowed just 3 runs over 9.2 innings pitched. Expect him to hit the ground running against a Rays team that is struggling to find their bats (excuse the 10 run Monday performance against Boston’s Triple-A pitcher in Brayan Bello who was only thrown due to injuries). The Red Sox need a bounce back and with Devers coming back to join some of the best bats in baseball, they should get it.

Pick: Red Sox ML -120 (2u)

David J. Phillip - AP

New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves (7:20 ET)

Favorite: Braves -155

Total: 8.5

Pitchers: David Peterson (3.48 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. Spencer Strider (2.60 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)

If you’re not familiar with Spencer Strider, I would get on google and look at some of his tape. The 23 year old former Clemson Tiger is blowing up and adding a dominant arm to the Braves’ already solid rotation. They thrust him into the starter role in late May and outside of 2 starts he’s been nearly unhittable. He throws his four-seamer about 68% of the time, and is nearly a 2-pitch pitcher which is uncommon among starters because batters in the majors can typically catch on and read the pitcher well in their 2nd and 3rd time through the order. None of this matters when you’re Spencer Strider and that fastball is going 98mph. Strider has a strikeout rate of 39.1% and an xBA below the Mendoza line at a filthy .196. In his last 2 starts he’s pitched 12 innings, only allowing 3 hits and striking out 23 batters. Not a typo.

Atlanta’s offense let it down on Monday night in their 4-1 defeat to the Mets, but much of that can be attributed to Max Scherzer being back and on top of his game. The Braves have been the best offensive team since the beginning of June and are 2nd best against lefties in the MLB this season. Expect them to get back on track against David Peterson, who is no slouch of his own but has been struggling as of late. In his last two starts he’s allowed 6 runs over 9.2 innings with 14 baserunners in the process. Peterson has a tendency to try and paint the corners which can get him in trouble with walks, and he won’t be able to afford that against such a dominant offense. Expect the struggling Mets offense to continue and the Braves to bounce back after losing game one at home.

Pick: Braves ML -155 (1.5u)

Matt Thomas - Getty Images

Milwaukee Brewers @ Minnesota Twins (7:40 ET)

Favorite: Twins -135

Total: 9

Pitchers: Jason Alexander (4.75 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) vs. Josh Winder (3.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Josh Winder fell injured towards the end of May and since returned like a brand new pitcher. In his 11 innings since return he’s allowed just 2 runs on 11 hits. He’s a youthful 25 and pitches to contact, using his 4-pitch arsenal to keep batters off-balance. Across the mound is the struggling Jason Alexander and two red flags pop off the page immediately when assessing him: a 10.2% strikeout rate and a .313 xBA. Alexander gets his outs by making his defense work, and that contact generated is clean. To make matters worse, he’s allowing walks galore and gets pounded when he gets stretched out. Batters in their 2nd and 3rd time through the order expose him and given how good the Minnesota bats are (5th since June 1st, 3rd in the last 14 days in OPS), they should be able to expose him early and often. Milwaukee has been excellent offensively themselves, but behind a starter like Alexander I can’t trust them on the road.

Pick: Twins ML -135 (1u)

Jim Mone - AP Photo

Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels (9:38 ET)

Favorite: Astros -125

Total: 8.5

Pitchers: Luis Garcia (3.81 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) vs. Noah Syndergaard (3.84 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

Two teams trending in polar opposite directions, the Astros and Angels couldn’t be farther from each other with the exception of our starters today. Luis Garcia and Noah Syndergaard are both going through a typical mid-season speed bump. Garcia has allowed 9 runs in his last 16.2 innings, and Syndergaard has allowed 10 in his last 17. Not terrible but not good by any means either. For what it’s worth, Garcia has been much worse on the road (5.04 ERA) and Syndergaard better at home (2.62 ERA), but I don’t think that’ll show much on Tuesday evening. The Angels can’t get to the All-Star break soon enough after getting swept in a 4-game series to the Orioles. Their bats are a league 29th in OPS since the beginning of June, and they look depleted. Their relievers have been below average while the Astros are exceptional, and even without Yordan Alvarez the Astros offense is producing runs for fun, averaging 5.86 runs per game over their last 7. The better team wins Tuesday, plain and simple.

Pick: Astros ML -125 (1u)

Elsa - Getty Images

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