Our best MLB player props for Friday (4/19) key in on the 7:10 EST matchup between the Boston Red Sox (6-13) and the Tampa Bay Rays, as Eduardo Rodriguez takes the mound for his fourth start of the season.
Rodriguez has had an uneven opening to 2019, getting roughed up in his first two appearances before finding his footing in the third. Tonight, he takes on a Tampa team he’s fared well against in the past.
Red Sox SP Eduardo Rodriguez
Over 6 Ks (-143)
Make no mistake, this is a high-variance bet — Rodriguez is always a risk to get touched up early and pulled from a game. He had 5 and 2 Ks over his his first two starts, lasting just 4.1 and 3.2 innings while giving up 11 earned runs in total.
But he looked like the Rodriguez of old against Baltimore last Friday, fanning eight batters over 6.2 innings to notch his first win of the year.
In 2018, the Venezuelan had 146 Ks in 129.2 innings pitched for a solid K/9 average of 10.13. That number has tumbled to 9.2 in the early part of 2019, and so has the walk-to-strikeout ratio — after striking out 3.2 batters for every walk issued last year, he’s only fanning 2.5 batters per BB this year, a decrease of 21.8%.
However, he issued zero walks in those 6.2 innings the last time out against the Orioles and generally looked like a pitcher returned to form.
Rays of Hope
Uneven though he may be, tonight’s matchup against the Rays is too good to ignore, particularly with Rodriguez being a southpaw.
- Tampa Bay has a bloated kRate (percentage of batters striking out) of 26.5 over its last 150 games
- That trend has carried into this year with the third-worst K/9 average (9.89) in MLB
- They’re even worse against lefties, striking out at the astronomical rate of 29.2%
- And they’re hitting just .266 against lefties overall in 2019
Rodriguez has had the Rays’ number, albeit in a small sample size — he’s struck out 11 of 24 Rays batters faced in his career for a gaudy 45.8 career kRate.
Tropicana Field has also been the seventh-friendliest ballpark for pitchers so far this year.
Despite the risk built into this bet, this number of O/U 6 Ks is just a little too low and should probably at least 6.5.
We’re paying for it, though, with a vig of -143. But considering even an average appearance by Rodriguez against Tampa’s struggling lineup should be enough to hit at least 6 strikeouts, I’m fine laying the juice here.