One of the few afternoon games on this Monday holiday will feature game one of the series between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment, and we’ll preview their matchup this afternoon before going over why I’ll be targeting an F5 play.
The Rangers and Tigers sit at the top or near the top of their respective division standings, but the only difference is that Detroit still has a losing record. With that said Detroit is fresh off a big series win over the White Sox in which they took three out of four games, including a big 6-5 win yesterday. Detroit fell behind 5-4 in the seventh, but they managed to tie it in the bottom of the ninth and then win it 6-5 in the tenth on an Eric Haase walk-off sacrifice fly.
Detroit will hand the ball to left-hander Matthew Boyd this afternoon. In nine starts and 42.3 innings, Boyd has pitched to a 5.74 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 18 walks. The lefty took a no-decision in his most recent start over the Royals, throwing 4 ⅔ innings while allowing one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts.
Boyd will be facing a much more challenging lineup this afternoon as he takes on a Rangers team that ranks first in the league in runs per game, and despite losing yesterday, they still won their series over the Orioles. Texas scored 17 runs in the first two games of that series, but yesterday they were held to just two runs on seven hits.
Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Texas this afternoon, and that should be music to Rangers fans' ears since the hard-throwing righty has been dominant recently. In 69.3 innings, the righty has a 2.60 ERA with 66 strikeouts and 11 walks, but his last five starts have been noteworthy. Eovaldi is 4-0 in those five outings and has not thrown less than seven innings in any of them while also not allowing more than one run in four of them.
The Rangers F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-122), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Not only are the Rangers the second most profitable F5 run-line team in the Majors this season at 36-16, but they have also crushed left-handed pitching on the road, especially this month. Between their success at the dish in these spots and Eovaldi’s dominance, I think they can build a lead early.
Since the start of May, the Rangers have the fourth-best wRC+ and wOBA, along with the best BAbip in the league against lefties on the road. With their (.860) OPS, they should be able to do damage against Matthew Boyd, who has an 8.64 ERA at home this season and an ERA of 4.05 or higher in three of the first five innings. Boyd’s flyball percentage of 32.8% and the Rangers' 6th-best hard-hit percentage against lefties is a beautiful site for Rangers’ backers.
Detroit has been right around league average or worse in most areas against righties at home this month, as they are 15th in wRC+, 17th in wOBA, and 24th in BAbip. That does not bode well for them against Eovaldi, who is in the 82nd percentile in barrel percentage, 76th percentile in expected slugging percentage, and 63rd percentile in strikeout percentage.
Texas Rangers F5 (-.5)(-122)