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Red Sox vs. Rays Odds & Picks: The Betting Value Is On Tampa Bay

Red Sox vs. Rays Odds & Picks: The Betting Value Is On Tampa Bay article feature image

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Pivetta

  • One team is struggling to create runs. The other is sending out a pitcher in better form.
  • How should bettors be approaching Monday night's matchup between the Rays and Red Sox?
  • MLB betting analyst Michael Arinze previews the game and makes his pick below.

Rays vs. Red Sox Odds

Rays Odds -113
Red Sox Odds -105
Over/Under 9.5
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday morning and via DraftKings

You’ll have to go back to Aug. 25-27 of 2017 to find the last time the Baltimore Orioles swept the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox ended up winning the AL East with 93 wins that season, but the odds are against them to finish this one with a similar result.

Boston’s preseason win total of 80.5 was the fourth-lowest of any team in the division. That would equal a .497 win percentage, almost a 10% increase from last season’s 24-36 (.400) finish. The Red Sox will struggle to get close to that win total if they’re unable to get their offense going at the plate.

Of the 28 teams that have played a game this season, Boston is second-to-last with a wRC+ value of 7, which means the Red Sox are creating 93% fewer runs than the league average.

Things aren’t likely to get any easier when the Red Sox host a Tampa Bay Rays team that won seven of the 10 games they played against Boston last year, including all four games at Fenway Park.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay will send out Michael Wacha to start the series opener. He won’t have to think too far back to the last time he faced Boston or even stepped foot inside Fenway Park.

After two starts against the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series, Wacha made his only regular-season start against them last year on July 27 while he was with the Mets. That was Wacha’s first start of the season, and it was probably the most comfortable he looked on the mound the entire year.

The right-hander allowed just one run, scattering five hits in five innings of work while striking out four batters and issuing one walk.

Unfortunately for Wacha, it ended up being his only win of the season as he finished with a 1-4 record and a 6.62 ERA.

If it feels like Wacha has been in the majors for a long time, it’s because he made his debut with the Cardinals at 21. And despite his disappointing 2020 campaign, the Rays feel like he still has something to offer as he gets set for his ninth year at the big league level.

No other team in Major League Baseball does more with less than the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re very deliberate in their decision making so the fact that they targeted Wacha suggests they’ve already picked up on something that other teams may have overlooked.

Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Wacha

Wacha got off to a good start in spring training this year. In 15 innings, he allowed just one run as batters hit only .176 against him.

He’ll hope to carry that momentum into his start against a Red Sox lineup that has 31 at-bats against him, with a .194 AVG / .286 OBP / .323 SLG slash line.

Boston Red Sox

Nick Pivetta will get the start for the Red Sox as they look to pick up their first win of the year. The Phillies traded Pivetta to Boston in August last year after he allowed 10 runs in 5.2 innings of relief work following his demotion to the bullpen.

Due to a lack of depth in their pitching staff, the Red Sox inserted him into their rotation, and Pivetta went 2-0 and allowed two earned runs in 10 innings of work.

However, those numbers should probably be taken with a grain of salt, given that both starts occurred in the final week of the regular season. One was against the Orioles, who had little to play for in terms of their playoff chances. The other was against the Braves, on the final day of the regular season, when Atlanta used an opener to avoid any possible injuries to their starting rotation before the playoffs.

Pivetta has yet to face the Rays in his career, and while that can be an advantage for pitchers, his struggles this spring training could suggest otherwise.

In 13 innings, Pivetta allowed nine runs with a 6.23 ERA. And in spring training two seasons ago, he made three starts, allowing seven runs in 7.2 innings and then found himself in the bullpen to start the season. Even without any head-to-head matchups against the Rays, Pivetta’s career numbers reveal him to be a below-average pitcher.

In 94 appearances and 73 starts, he’s 21-30 with a 5.40 ERA.

Rays-Red Sox Pick

Since we don’t have a large sample size of these pitchers against their respective opponents, it makes sense to center our handicap on both teams’ offense coming into Monday’s game.

While I already mentioned that Boston has struggled to create runs earlier, here are a couple more stats to drive that point home:

  • After three games, the Red Sox team has a .145 AVG / .206 OBP / .177 SLG slash line. Plus, their .205 wOBA and .074 ISO puts them 27th out of the 28 teams that have played at least one game this season.
  • When they’ve had runners in scoring position, the Red Sox have been even worse as their wRC+ rating of -44 is puts them last in the league. They’ve had 20 at-bats in this situational spot, and they’ve mustered only two hits along with a .090 wOBA.

With Tampa Bay a slight -113 road favorite at DraftKings, I’d expect the Rays to win this game more often than not. Wacha should be able to carry some positive memories from his last outing at Fenway into this start. It might be déjà vu for him all over again as he had a promising spring with the Mets last year as well. In three starts, Wacha allowed just one run and finished with a 1.17 ERA.

When I put all the factors together, I can only side with the Rays and back the pitcher who looks to be in better form coming into the season.

Pick: Rays (-113)

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