MLB Betting Guide for Friday 8/18/23: Will Former All-Stars Find Their Groove in L.A.?

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From moneylines to run totals to first-five-inning wagers, we have plenty of ways to bet the long, arduous MLB schedule daily. Outlooks can be vastly different due to starting pitchers, and a wealth of advanced stats can let us know if an individual pitcher, a bullpen, or a team is due for positive -- or negative -- regression.

Using numberFire's projections as a guide, which MLB odds from FanDuel Sportsbook are most appealing today?

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Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Red Sox ML (-108)

With the New York Yankees expected to turn to Johnny Brito here, I have no idea how the visiting Boston Red Sox aren't clear favorites here.

Boston will have Brayan Bello toe the slab, and Bello's breakout 2023 campaign has been one of many reasons the BoSox are still in the playoff hunt. The sinkerballer has ceded just a .644 OPS to righties, which is an organic mismatch against the Yanks' right-handed-heavy lineup. With a minuscule 29.4% hard-hit rate allowed, he also keeps the ball out of the air and away from the Bronx Bombers' strengths.

New York has just an 88 wRC+ against righties in the past 30 days, showing a clear weakness in this split. The Red Sox (100 wRC+) have been much better entering their date with Brito -- a weaker pitcher across the board than Bello.

Brito's 4.76 ERA isn't great and it's also a product of good luck. His expected ERA (xERA) is 5.29 with a 38.8% hard-hit rate allowed. Brito also doesn't generate many whiffs (9.0% swinging-strike rate) with a 41.4% flyball rate that's higher than you'd like.

New York hasn't officially announced Brito as a starter here, so a first-five-inning line is currently unavailable but also a possibility to dodge two bullpens that have been hit-and-miss all season.

New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals -1.5 (+134)

Though far from a reliable target, the St. Louis Cardinals have every advantage on paper tonight, including the fact they're playing a sinking, lost New York Mets club that has put forth hilarious box scores over the past week.

St. Louis will turn to a defacto bullpen game tonight with Zack Thompson. The lefty has actually been really solid, posting a 3.32 SIERA, 32.1% strikeout rate, and tiny 19.7% flyball rate operating primarily from the 'pen this year. Thompson logged four innings and threw 73 pitches in his last appearance, so he'll be around for a bit against a Mets team with a mediocre .698 OPS against southpaws the past 30 days.

"Solid" isn't how I'd describe Joey Lucchesi, who has been fortunate to post decent results in a small sample. Lucchesi's 6.88 xERA at the major-league level this year is dreadful, and it's attached to a 42.4% flyball rate and 44.1% hard-hit rate allowed that should fuel opposing offenses. Amidst their woes, St. Louis has never stopped crushing lefties this season, holding an .801 OPS against them over the past month.

As this game turns over to the bullpen, the Cardinals (4.12 reliever xFIP) have outperformed the Mets (4.76) in that department over the last month, too. Everything is set up well for St. Louis to avenge their 4-2 loss last night in Friday's contest.

Miami Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers

Over 8.5 (-115)

A total of 8.5 would have been blasphemous for Sandy Alcantara and Tony Gonsolin last year, but neither has been able to replicate their 2022 campaign this season.

Alcantara is more "pedestrian" than "bad", registering a 4.09 xERA with a 20.8% strikeout rate that's slightly down from last year (24.0%). The concern for him here is that the Los Angeles Dodgers -- despite a dud last night -- typically batter "pedestrian" righties. Their 123 wRC+ over the past 30 days against them (fifth in MLB) is the lofty level of production we've come to expect from L.A.

The Miami Marlins' offense has an 85 wRC+ in this same time and split, so Gonsolin absolutely draws the easier matchup in this spot, but he's significantly less qualified to handle it. The mustachioed right-hander has a 5.29 xERA this season with a poor 19.7% strikeout rate and elevated 41.7% hard-hit rate allowed. Gonsolin has been rocked for at least four earned runs in 7 of his last 10 starts; it's pretty consistent ineptitude from him.

These teams will battle in baseball's second-best park for home runs, so things could escalate quickly if either of these former All-Stars isn't sharp. They haven't been for the bulk of 2023, so I don't mind targeting this suppressed total.

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