Yankees-Red Sox Mega Preview: Sale as a Short Fave Too Good to Be True?

Yankees-Red Sox Mega Preview: Sale as a Short Fave Too Good to Be True? article feature image

Credit: Winslow Townson – USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Sale.

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Back when I was a yout, I could go to a Bruins game in the dead of winter between Boston and the Atlanta Thrashers and hear “Yankees suck” chants fill the FleetCenter.

Though the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is not quite as hostile as it has been in years past, the talent on the field is as good as ever. Both teams added a slugger in the offseason and expect to win more than 90 games. The Sox are off to an early divisional lead and look to keep things rolling with Chris Sale on the mound. Meanwhile, the Yankees will look to get back on the right track with their top arm Luis Severino going. Here’s to the next chapter of baseball’s greatest rivalry. — Mark Gallant

All odds as of Tuesday morning. For real-time numbers, check out our MLB live odds page.

New York Yankees (+117) @ Boston Red Sox (-129) | O/U: 7

7:10 p.m. ET
Luis Severino (2-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA)

Sale Day: Chris Sale (pictured above) had a very interesting time against the Yankees in his first season with the Red Sox. In five starts, he had a 2.65 ERA and struck out 50 Yankees in 34 innings. He was rewarded with a record of 0-3 in those starts thanks to poor run support. Despite not getting any points for wins, he averaged a DraftKings Plus/Minus of +4.09 thanks to his bountiful strikeout totals.

Though the Yankees’ big bats are striking out plenty this year, they rank just 20th as a team in K%. Sale is still striking out more than 12 batters per nine through his first two starts, but as I expected, Alex Cora and his staff appear to be treating the ace with caution. It was seemingly commonplace to see John Farrell let Sale go back out for the seventh or eighth inning with a pitch count around 100 last year, but he wasn’t as effective when it mattered in September and October. Sale has allowed just one run in his two starts combined, but has not seen his pitch count reach triple digits. I’m not saying he’ll get pulled after five or six innings every game, but I don’t expect him to go deep into games with regularity this early in the season. — Mark Gallant

Laying a measly -129 for a Chris Sale start seems almost too good to be true, but since coming to Boston, Sale hasn’t been good to Sox bettors in this matchup. The Yankees are 4-1 facing Sale in a Red Sox uniform, good for +5.4 units. –– Danny Donahue


In his career with both the Red Sox and White Sox, Chris Sale has won 62% of his starts when his opponent was outside the division. Inside the division, that win percentage drops to 52.2%, losing bettors 11.7 units over a 90-game sample. Even when you look at a smaller sample size with just the Red Sox, Sale is 12-7 on the moneyline inside the division and 11-4 on the moneyline outside the division. — Evan Abrams

One-sided Rivalry: The Yankees have dominated this betting matchup in recent years regardless of who’s been on the hill. Since 2014, Yankee bettors have won 9.8 units against the Red Sox, with 8.3 of them coming in games in which New York was the underdog. — Danny Donahue

Bullpen Blunders: One of the Yankees’ biggest on-paper strengths is their rocket-fuel bullpen, but they’ve been a letdown so far. To this point, Yankee relievers have a 4.89 ERA in 42.1 innings. On the surface, not very good. But a deeper look should ease the nerves around the Evil Empire. While their ERA ranks in the bottom 10, the Pinstripe Pen leads the MLB with a 13.39 K/9 and a 2.33 xFIP. Translation: Expect some positive regression sooner rather than later. — Michael Leboff

Boston’s bullpen has been bad, too, and a deeper look will not ease nerves around Beantown. Though the Red Sox relievers’ 4.24 ERA tops New York, their xFIP of 4.00 suggests that they’ve only been a tad unlucky. Perhaps walking less than five batters per nine innings would be a good place to start. — Mark Gallant

Public Pinstripes: Bettors have been backing the Bronx Bombers all year, but have come away disappointed so far. Though their 5-5 record is perfectly fine for this point of the season, they’ve been the seventh-least profitable team in the league.

In their four-game series against the Orioles, the Yankees received 68%, 73%, 76% and 77% of bets and won just once. They won’t get near that level of support in Boston. This could potentially be a rare contrarian spot to take the Yankees. Keep an eye on the betting percentages on our live odds page— Mark Gallant