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Red Sox vs. Mariners Odds & Picks: Side With Boston’s Bats Thursday

Red Sox vs. Mariners Odds & Picks: Side With Boston’s Bats Thursday article feature image

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Verdugo.

  • Boston's bats have been red hot to start the season, pushing the Red Sox to the best record in the American League.
  • Seattle surprisingly leads the AL West, but metrics suggest they're not as good as their record indicates.
  • Jeff Hicks thinks the Red Sox will capitalize on poor pitching from the Mariners.

Red Sox vs. Mariners Odds

Mariners Odds+153
Red Sox Odds-167
Time7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday Night and via PointsBet.

Don’t look now, but the Boston Red Sox are top five in Offensive and Pitching WAR. They welcome the squints at computer screen first-place Seattle Mariners to Fenway. This would be a lot more interesting if the Mariners weren’t a fairly fraudulent 11-7 based on their 9-9 Pythagorean Win-Loss.

What may be less inspiring than the Mariners as a whole is the pitching matchup. Justin Dunn and Nick Pivetta use a lot of pitches to do little, making both better bets against than for.

That means all of this comes down to offensive production and bullpens. There’s a reason why the Red Sox are lofty favorites.

Seattle Mariners

Hitting is down to start the 2021 season, so the Mariners sporting a -4.3 Offensive WAR (16th overall) is not bad for now. Despite the vanilla offense, Seattle has only lost one series this season, including wins over Minnesota and Houston, and a two-game split with the Dodgers. The Mariners head into Boston with a -3 run differential, second-worst among division leaders and have to slow down the Red Sox and their +30 run differential.

Justin Dunn is expected to do that. Do I have faith he will? No. Dunn enters the game with more walks than strikeouts (10/9) and a fortunate ERA. Dunn’s Expected ERA (xERA) and Expected Fielder Independent Pitching is two and three runs higher than his actual ERA. Boston does not walk a lot, but they also do not strike out often, boasting the third-best strikeout rate this season.

If you want to credit the Mariners offense for something, they walk more than the Red Sox.

Seattle’s bullpen is one of the worst to start the season. It is bottom five in strikeout rate and bottom 10 in xFIP and Hard Hit Percentage (Hard%). The Red Sox lead baseball in slugging percentage, OPS, and Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+).

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Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox offense has enjoyed a resurgence from J.D. Martinez. He is top five in the majors in home runs, runs, RBI’s, slugging, Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), wRC+ and Offensive WAR. Boston has the best team offense and leads baseball in batting average, slugging and OPS.

How can Dunn slow down the offense? He probably won’t. He needs Nick Pivetta to be Nick Pivetta.

Pivetta has a 14/11 K/BB ratio after three starts (14 2/3 innings) and has seen the exit velocity on balls in play against him rise 2 mph over that period. His xERA and xFIP jump nearly as much as Dunn’s.

Boston’s bullpen has rebounded after a disastrous 2020. Matt Barnes has returned to his 2019 form and has led one of the better bullpens to start the season. The Red Sox relievers have allowed 3.5% of flyballs to leave the yard and have allowed opposing hitters to reach via hit at a .211 clip. The bullpen’s xFIP is a full run higher than its ERA, a bit concerning but something that does not usually correct itself over one game (jinx). If Pivetta gets in trouble against the Mariners, the relievers have a better chance of stopping the bleeding than the Mariners with Dunn.

Mariners-Red Sox Pick

The Red Sox can start four left-handed hitters with confidence and take advantage of their short right field. I also doubt Taylor Trammell (Seattle’s current left fielder and a plus defender) has ever played in a unique place like Fenway and the Green Monster. The Red Sox should unleash on Justin Dunn, just as they have against much better pitchers such as Lucas Giolito and Jose Berrios. I think five runs is a good line, but one Boston will cross against inferior pitching.

Pick: Red Sox over 5 runs (-121, bet to -140).

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