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Thursday MLB Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for Blue Jays vs. Red Sox: Back Tanner Houck, Boston as Home Underdogs

Thursday MLB Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for Blue Jays vs. Red Sox: Back Tanner Houck, Boston as Home Underdogs article feature image
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Kathryn Riley/Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Tanner Houck.

  • The Red Sox are short home underdogs on Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays.
  • The Boston Bats have started the seasaon slowly, but are they due to finally break through at Fenway?
  • Mike Ianniello breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Blue Jays vs. Red Sox Odds

Blue Jays Odds -122
Red Sox Odds +104
Over/Under 9
Time 1:35 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The AL East preseason-favorite Blue Jays haven’t gotten off to the hot start that many people excepted, sitting at 7-6 and in third in the division. The Blue Jays split the first two games of this series at Fenway Park against the 6-6 Red Sox.

Thursday is a great day for gamblers with seven afternoon games. With plenty of options to choose from, where does the value lie in the matinee between Toronto and Boston?

Gausman Hoping to Excel for Toronto

Toronto looked to replace reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray by signing Kevin Gausman (RHP) from the Giants this offseason. His first two starts have not gone as well as they had hoped though. Gausman is 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA and has allowed a .343 xwOBA.

As a whole, Gausman was terrific last year and earned his first All-Star nod. He went 14-6 and pitched to a 2.81 ERA. However, the start to this season isn’t terribly surprising after he pitched to a 4.42 ERA in the second half of last year. He still has a nasty splitter, but opposing hitters have teed off on his fastball.

From top to bottom, the Blue Jays might have the best lineup in the league. They lead the league with 16 home runs already and have eight guys who have taken one deep. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the AL with five blasts.

They rank top 10 in the league in both wOBA and wRC+ and especially crush right-handed pitchers, sitting fifth in wRC+.

Will Boston Bats Finally Heat Up?

Tanner Houck (RHP) was Boston’s first round pick in 2017, and after making his MLB debut in 2020, he entered the season with 16 starts under his belt. Through two games, he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. His first start against the Yankees was a disaster, but he allowed just two hits against the Twins last week.

The sidearm-throwing Houck has a terrific slider that he mixes well with his fastball and sinker. One early concern is his 5.58 xERA is more than two full runs higher than his current 3.00 ERA.

Boston’s offense is off to a somewhat slow start. They rank just 18th in runs this season and sit 22nd in wOBA and 23rd in wRC+. The Red Sox are averaging just 3.66 runs at home and have scored more than five runs just twice all year.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo are all off to great starts and batting over .300, but it is the depth behind them that has struggled. Trevor Story (concussion) and J.D. Martinez (groin) are both listed as day-to-day. Manager Alex Cora expects Story to play, but Martinez is likely out, which is a big loss considering he has a .385 batting average and .462 wOBA against Gausman in his career.

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Blue Jays-Red Sox Pick

Houck struggled in his first start but really settled in against Minnesota as he allowed just two hits and pitched into the sixth inning. The concern for Houck has been he has averaged just four and two-thirds innings, but considering he is expected to miss his next start, we could see him stretched out a little longer.

Since last year’s All-Star break, Gausman has posted a 4.40 ERA. So far this season he is allowed a 48.4 Hard Hit percentage, ranking in the bottom 25 percentile of the majors, and opponents have a .330 xBA against him.

After Thursday’s game, Boston will head on the road for 10 consecutive games. Gausman’s expected numbers are concerning, and I have liked what I’ve seen from Houck so far in his career. Thursday’s matchup is pretty even, so I will take the Red Sox at +105 and would play them to -110 odds.

Pick: Boston ML (+105)

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