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Sat, 05/17/14 - 7:10 PM Bryan Leonard | MLB Money Line
double-dime bet 970 BOS (-125) William Hill vs 969 DET
Results: L, -$250
Analysis: 970 Detroit at Boston

After getting stymied by Max Scherzer and the Tigers bullpen in a rain delayed affair, the Boston Red Sox will look to get back to .500 with John Lackey on the mound. The Tigers will counter with Rick Porcello. Lackey is having a fine season as the 35-year-old seems rejuvenated by his 2013 performance and the year off in 2012 while recovering from surgery. This season, Lackey is in the top 30 out of 107 qualified pitchers in K%, BB%, and K/BB ratio. Lackey is posting the best Zone% rate of his career since 2005 with the lowest Zone-Contact% of his career. What that means is that Lackey is not only controlling his pitches, but also locating them where he wants. That's also evident in his 17.9 percent line drive rate.

Lackey is exhibiting elite control so far this season. The advanced metrics suggest that Lackey's performance could improve even more with some fortunate batted ball results. His BABIP is very slightly above his career average, but his 3.57 ERA is a little bit high according to his 3.23 FIP, 3.21 xFIP, and 3.19 SIERA. Six of his eight outings have been quality starts. We expect a seventh quality start against a tough Tigers lineup because of Lackey's ability to locate.

Rick Porcello has some bad batted ball luck coming his way and there's no better place for that than Fenway Park. Porcello is allowing a line drive on 28.7 percent of balls in play. That's the highest percentage of line drives of all 107 qualified pitchers. Porcello is a pitch-to-contact guy reliant on his defense to make plays behind him. The Tigers defense is improved, but not improved enough that Porcello should be posting a .276 BABIP. That's 35 points lower than his career BABIP. The Tigers had one of the 10 worst defenses in two of the last three seasons to skew that number a bit, but the amount of line drives Porcello is giving up should put his BABIP in the .290-.295 range.

One of the keys to Porcello's success this season has been getting hitters to chase. Porcello has the third-highest chase rate among qualified pitchers at 36.6 percent. The Red Sox have the fifth-best chase rate at just 26.6 percent. If Porcello has to get pitches up in the zone because the Red Sox aren't chasing, that takes away his advantage. Increased use of a slider has actually increased both Porcello's line drive rate and his fly ball rate at the expense of his ground ball rate. Fly balls and line drives are not good at Fenway Park and we believe that Porcello could have a bit of a rocky outing.


Pick Made: May 17 2014 4:29AM PST
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