Marlins vs Red Sox Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Thursday, June 29
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Brayan Bello #99 of the Boston Red Sox.
Marlins vs. Red Sox Odds
-122 / +100
|Red Sox Odds|
-122 / +100
My two favorite baseball teams play each other at Fenway Park on Thursday, the finale of a three-game interleague set.
If you follow me on Twitter (@tannerstruth), you know my affinity for these two clubs. I grew up a Red Sox fan but am a die-hard Fish Fanatic, mostly thanks to my love of betting on the Marlins.
So, it's heartbreaking for me to pick a side in this matchup. Thank goodness my best bet for this Marlins vs. Red Sox game is on the total.
It's impossible to comprehend what the Fish are doing.
They're now 12 games over .500 and holding the top overall wild card spot in the National League. They're 17-7 in June alone.
The Marlins are accomplishing this despite Sandy Alcantara boasting an ERA approaching 5.00.
The Fish are also 19-5 in one-run games and 4-1 in extra-inning games with a -6 run differential.
That should signal eventual regression. Right?
Well, why hasn't it happened yet? The Marlins haven't had a positive run differential all season, and they won their first seven one-run ballgames. These Fish should return to Earth, but they're only getting better.
Part of this is expected close-game positive regression from last season. The 2022 Fish went 24-40 in one-run games, which was maddening.
You can't escape regression forever, but I see some key differences between last year's Marlins and this year's Marlins that have helped flip their close-game luck.
First, I think new manager Skip Schumaker manages the bullpen much better than Don Mattingly ever did.
The Marlins relievers are absolutely performing better than they did last season, but I don't think that explains the full difference between last year's statistics and this year's statistics.
Last year's Fish bullpen finished 22nd in ERA (4.15), 26th in fWAR (1.5), and 29th in Win Probability Added (-5.77). This year's Fish bullpen is 16th in ERA (3.96), ninth in fWAR (2.6), and fourth in Win Probability Added (+3.38).
The eight percentage point difference in WPA can't simply be the addition of A.J. Puk alongside the improvements of Andrew Nardi and Steven Okert. I think Schumaker manages the Marlins very well.
Also, the young arms have stepped up in a big way.
Specifically, Eury Perez's quick development (1.34 ERA) and Braxton Garrett's stuff improvements (SP leader in K-BB% over the past 30 days, 37.7%) have kept the Marlins competitive in 24 starts. That's something they were unable to do in non-Sandy starts last season.
Finally, the offseason adjustments made to the lineup have paid off. Between Luis Arraez, Bryan De La Cruz and Jorge Soler, the Fish actually have enough offense to rally late in games.
I'm still waiting for Jazz Chisholm to explode offensively, but staying on the field would be a good start.
I'm not saying regression won't come, but these Marlins are built to win the close games they lost last year.
Shout out Kim Ng.
She acquired AJ Puk for JJ Bleday. She extended Sandy at the perfect time. She acquired Jesus Luzardo for two months of Starlin Marte. Acquired DLC for two months of Yimi Garcia.
Traded for Tanner Scott, Chargois, and signed Jorge Soler.
Hired Skip, the front runner for MOY… https://t.co/LR8HhhOdTt
— Isaac Azout (@IsaacAzout) June 29, 2023
Starting pitcher: Jesus Luzardo (LHP)
Luzardo is throwing harder now.
His four-seam and sinker regularly hit 97 mph. He pairs it with a slider that has a 50% Whiff rate.
Those two pitches are the main drivers of Luzardo's 104 Stuff+ rating and one of the better seasons of his young career.
Luzardo is in good form, recording a 3.00 ERA, 24 strikeouts at a 57% ground-ball rate over his past four starts and 24 innings.
Suffice to say, I'm a fan.
Right when you're back in on the Red Sox, they drop five of six.
The Red Sox are streaky but ultimately settle somewhere in the middle (just like Nick Pivetta). The Sox went 15-14 in April, 13-13 in May, and are 12-13 in June.
The Sox go as their offense goes, but the lineup has been league-average over the past two weeks (101 wRC+), and they've scored two runs over the past 18 innings.
Rafael Devers is heating up alongside Triston Casas and Justin Turner, but Masataka Yoshida and Alex Verdugo are struggling.
It's one step forward, one step back in Boston.
The 2022 Sox were in contention for a hot second before injuries devastated the pitching staff, and I'm worried that's happening again this season. Chris Sale and Tanner Houck are both on the IL now, while Corey Kluber and Pivetta are un-pitchable. Even Garrett Whitlock put together a horrendous start during this Fish series, so it's hard to find a pitcher in Boston you can trust.
Except for this guy…
Starting pitcher: Brayan Bello (RHP)
When scouting Bello, the Red Sox front office found ace-level stuff. His sinker-change mix could force a unique combination of ground balls and Whiffs, while his hard fastball-slider mix could keep hitters honest.
It's been a rocky road, but Bello is starting to put the whole package together. He has a 2.45 ERA and a 57% ground-ball rate over his past 10 starts.
The changeup is something special. It has a 40% Whiff rate this season, and he's 13 swings and misses with the pitch over his past two starts.
Brayan Bello, Wicked Changeups. 👌👌
2Ks in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/b2ylhEwMlx
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 24, 2023
Bello is nearing ace-level territory.
Marlins vs. Red Sox Betting Pick
I'm exceedingly high on these two starting pitchers, especially Bello.
However, I'm also relatively high on these two bullpens.
Over the past two weeks, the Fish are fourth in reliever ERA (2.63) behind Puk, Nardi and Okert. The Sox are closer to the league average, but you can usually trust Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin to shut down games, and both are well-rested entering this series finale.
Meanwhile, you can't count on consistent night-to-night production from either offense. The Fish are better, but guys like Jean Segura are still hitting in the middle of the lineup.
So, I'm banking on a pitcher's duel at Fenway this Thursday evening.
I think Boston manages to avoid the sweep, but the under is the better play. I bet it at 9.5 but still like it at 9.