Friday night baseball on MLB Network features a couple of AL East matchups as a couple of important weekend series get underway.

Matchup: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

Date/Time: July 25, 7:05 p.m., ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: TOR: Mark Buehrle (10-6, 2.86) v. NYY: Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 3.88)

Moneyline: New York -134

Total: 8 -125/-105

A couple of wily veterans will take the hill in the all-important battle for second place in the AL East Division as the Blue Jays and Yankees each bring a three-game winning streak into this series. The Blue Jays will send 35-year-old Mark Buehrle to the hill against 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda.

Buehrle started the year on some kind of run, winning 10 of his first 11 decisions, but he has not recorded a victory since June 1. In his last eight starts, Buehrle is 0-5 with a 4.06 ERA as regression has definitely hit the southpaw. The Jays have won three of those eight starts, but Buehrle has not factored in the decision. In that span, Buehrle’s ERA has risen by 0.82 runs and his batting average against has gone from .253 to .294 and now rests at .270 for the season.

Kuroda has started to show some signs of aging as he approaches 40, with a drop in strikeouts and a slight drop in velocity. Since the start of June, however, Kuroda has posted a 3.10 ERA in nine starts covering 58 innings. Kuroda posted a 4.57 ERA over his first 11 starts of the season. Kuroda has a 2.63 ERA in 27.1 innings in the month of July. He has an identical ERA at home and on the road, but his K/BB ratio is significantly better at home with a 4.45 K/BB compared to a 2.64 on the road.

Buehrle will be taking on the Yankees for the 19th time in his career and he has been positively awful against them. He is 1-11 with a 5.81 ERA. Over the last two seasons, Buehrle is 0-3 in seven starts with a 4.78 ERA. Kuroda will be facing the Jays for the 10th time in his career and he has had success with a 5-3 record and a 3.86 ERA. Kuroda was victorious earlier this season when the two teams met, allowing three runs in 6.1 innings. The Jays are 14-6 in Buehrle’s 20 starts for a profit of 8.18 units, making him the fourth-most profitable starter in the league. The Yankees are 9-11 in Kuroda’s 20 starts for a loss of 3.84 units.

Pick: New York

For whatever reason, Mark Buehrle seriously struggles against the Yankees and even though this isn’t the same caliber of team he’s faced in the past, that’s a mental hurdle to overcome. Regression has hit Buehrle hard, while positive regression has found Kuroda after his rough start to the season.

 

Matchup: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Date/Time: July 25, 7:10 p.m., ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: BOS: Jon Lester (10-7, 2.50) v. TB: David Price (10-7, 3.06)

Moneyline: Tampa Bay -140

Total: 6.5 -110/-110

Runs are expected to be hard to come by as two of the game’s elite left-handers face off at Tropicana Field in a series that suddenly means a ton to both teams. Written off early in the season, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays each find themselves crawling back into the AL East race.

The Red Sox suffered a setback on Thursday as they were carved up by Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, but they’ll have their ace on the mound on Friday. Jon Lester is having what could be described as a career year as he inches closer to free agency following the season. He has a 2.50 ERA and his advanced metrics support that type of performance, especially with a career-best walk rate to go along with a return to the strikeout prowess he enjoyed in his earlier days. Lester has not finished a game with an ERA above 3.45 this season.

David Price leads the Majors in both strikeouts and innings pitched as he goes into his 22nd start of the season. He has an 8.24 K/BB ratio on the season. The lone blemish for Price has been the 19 home runs he has allowed, but he has won five straight decisions with a 0.90 ERA and has averaged eight innings per start in those outings. In nine starts since the start of June, Price is 6-3 with a 1.74 ERA and an 83/12 K/BB ratio. After ending April with a 4.75 ERA, Price has a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts since.

Lester will be facing the Rays for the 28th time in his career. He’s 13-9 with a 4.12 ERA covering 164 innings. This season, Lester is 1-0 with seven shutout innings and 12 strikeouts to his name. Price will be taking on the Red Sox for the 23rd time and he’s 10-6 with a 3.06 ERA. This will be his third start against them this season with a 4.20 ERA and no decisions. The Red Sox are 13-7 for 4.96 units of profit when Lester starts and the Rays are 13-8 in Price’s starts, but heavy chalk has the Rays down 0.66 units.

Pick: Tampa Bay

This is an enormous series for the Rays and there’s nobody better than David Price to set the tone. He’s been on a tremendous roll and even though Lester is a very tough customer, the Rays enter this series as winners of 16 out of their last 20 and with all the momentum on their side as they try to get back to .500 to make a serious run at the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles.