Rays vs. Red Sox Odds, Pick, Prediction: Boston Has Value in Game 3 of ALDS
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Eovaldi
- The Red Sox are favored over the Rays on Sunday (4:07 p.m. ET, MLB Network) for Game 3 of the ALDS.
- Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound for Boston against Tampa's Drew Rasmussen. The Rays' bullpen might be in a little trouble, with injuries and high usage early in the series.
- Get our Rays vs. Red Sox betting pick and preview below.
Rays vs. Red Sox Odds
|Red Sox Odds||-115|
|Over/Under||8.5 (-120 / +100)|
|Time||4:07 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
After a quiet Game 1 of the ALDS — one which painted the Red Sox as pretenders in this series — Boston came back with a vengeance in Game 2, exploding for 14 runs in a massive win to get this series level at 1-1.
Heading home with the their ace on the mound, could it be time to take the Red Sox again? Let’s have a look at the numbers.
Rays’ Bullpen Needs To Be Up To Task
The first thing we need to address is this Rays bullpen, considering they likely won’t be getting seven-plus innings from Game 3 starter Drew Rasmussen.
Collin McHugh came in to a game which Tampa Bay led and promptly gave up two solo homers and walked a hitter who’d later come around to score when Matt Wisler came in and allowed a game-breaking three-run tank to J.D. Martinez.
It’s probably not too surprising Michael Wacha allowed six earned runs in a close game, but it’s somewhat surprising the game got away from Tampa Bay so quickly despite the presence of two good arms.
This is a team that had the third-best bullpen ERA this season and leaned on McHugh heavily, getting 52 innings out of the righty and a 1.90 ERA. Wisler, too, registered just a 2.15 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. While it’s just two arms that cracked under pressure, it’s still intriguing considering McHugh was probably the best line of defense Kevin Cash had in this game, and it didn’t work out.
In order to win this series — and win the American League pennant — this bullpen is going to be critical. Sunday will be a huge test, with Rasmussen’s starts this year all being capped at five innings. He’s been solid since joining the rotation with a 1.46 ERA and 2.76 FIP in eight starts, but his 50.2% hard-hit rate for the season is pretty troubling for a guy who’s not a ground-ball pitcher.
Red Sox Offense Clicking At Right Time
The Red Sox are making some incredible contact at the moment. Their hard-hit rate in Game 2 sat at 54.3% with a barrel rate of 20% — something that’s to be expected when you hit five home runs. That comes on the heels of a 53.3% hard-hit rate in Game 1 and a mark of 68.4% in the AL Wild Card Game. When you’re looking at a starting pitcher with the sixth-worst hard-hit rate in all of baseball (minimum 100 batted ball events), that is an interesting matchup, to say the least.
Another intriguing thing about that Game 2 was just how good the bullpen was for Boston. After being its Achilles’ heel for much of the season, it responded in a big way after Chris Sale came out flat. Tanner Houck spun five innings of one-run ball and Ryan Brasier and Hansel Robles continued strong postseasons.
Now, the bullpen will get some help on the front end from Nathan Eovaldi. The fire-baller was last seen dominating the Yankees in Tuesday’s Wild Card Game, leaning on his fastball to strike out eight over 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits. Tampa Bay is alright against fastballs, checking in at seventh in weighted runs per 100 pitches, but there’s certainly room for improvement for such a complete offense.
At any rate, it was good to see Eovaldi pitch well after he stumbled against the Yankees a few weeks ago in his penultimate start. He seems to have things back under control with two straight gems.
Rays-Red Sox Pick
While it was just one game where the Rays bullpen struggled, I’m still a little bit worried here. McHugh will be either unavailable or come in with his confidence shaken, and this ‘pen will need everything it has behind Rassmusen. I don’t think a guy with quality-of-contact issues will have a good time against this Red Sox offense, considering their mood at the moment.
Coming back home and getting a boost from the fans in Boston — we’ve seen home-field advantage matter so far in the postseason — I think the Red Sox can steal a game here and take a 2-1 series lead. It might not guarantee a series victory, but this matchup is too good to be ignored.
Pick: Red Sox ML (-115)