Ready for the weekend? Of course. We always are. This one seems extra fun with the trade deadline less than a week away and a lot more clarity in terms of the playoff picture in both leagues. We’re coming off the heels of a historic night in Fenway Park and we’re gonna go in the opposite direction of that one with our top pick. 

All odds via William Hill.

1. Yankees at Red Sox: Yankees -116

Wait, what? The Yankees’ starting pitchers have been a mess over the last five games and the Red Sox just beat the Yankees in their biggest blowout in the history of that rivalry

That does slightly factor here for me, but in favor of the Yankees. One of the great things about baseball is it has a tendency to even out and teams only have to wait until the next day after a bad loss to erase that memory. The Yankees are clearly the better team here — by 10 games in the standings — and they are going to even things out with a win Friday night. 

Andrew Cashner goes for the Red Sox and he’s pretty unreliable against a great offense. Some Yankees have good history against him, too: 

  • DJ LeMahieu is 8 for 25 (.320) with a double. 
  • Didi Gregorius is 7 for 22 (.318) with three doubles and a homer.
  • Aaron Judge is 4 for 13 (.308) with a homer.
  • Gleyber Torres is 6 for 13 (.462) with a double and two homers. 
  • Aaron Hicks is 6 for 18 (.333) with two doubles. 

James Paxton might not fare so well, but I like a Yankees offensive explosion.

The SportsLine projection model has strong picks for New York vs. Boston on Friday amidst a stretch where the model entered Week 18 on a sizzling 27-10 run on top-rated MLB money line picks. Get the computer’s picks over at SportsLine.

2. Astros at Cardinals: Astros +102

Two hot teams here, with the Astros having won seven of their last eight and the Cardinals 11 of their last 13. I lean Astros here for two reasons: 

  1. They are simply a more talented team. That’s always going to weigh in to some extent. 
  2. Jose Urquidy

Urquidy has great talent but had a rough first two starts to his big-league career. Last time out, though, he looked like he was ready to put things together. He went seven innings and allowed only one run on two hits while striking out nine against zero walks. The Cardinals have zero familiarity with him, and when it comes to pitchers with talent, that’s an advantage to the man on the hill. The feeling here is Urquidy throws his second straight gem.

SportsLine senior analyst Larry Hartstein is an astonishing 57-33 in his last 90 MLB picks. Now he looks to continue the winning ways with three best bets for Friday, including the D-Backs to dispatch the Marlins. See all Hartstein’s best bets at SportsLine. 

3. Rangers at Athletics: Athletics -116

Two teams headed in completely opposite directions. The Rangers were in playoff position for a good little stretch, but they’ve now lost nine of their last 11. They are without their best player, Joey Gallo, due to a broken hamate bone. They are bracing to sell in front of the trade deadline, and there’s the “even out” factor I mentioned in the Yankees-Red Sox section. The Rangers won last night, 11-3. 

The A’s, meanwhile, have gone 39-21 since May 14 and have been pretty reliably consistent. They’ve now lost four of their last five, so I’m expecting them to start reeling off victories again very soon. That starts Friday night. 

As a bonus, current Rangers have hit .186/.250/.322 against A’s starter Daniel Mengden.

SportsLine MMA guru Kyle Marley is up more than $21,000 in the past year on his MMA selections. Last week at UFC on ESPN 4, Marley predicted that Greg Hardy (-115) would knock out Juan Adams (-105), an easy winner. See Marley’s picks for UFC 240 at SportsLine.