Wednesday MLB Rays vs. Red Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Can Nathan Eovaldi Help Boston Salvage Series? (Sept. 8)

Wednesday MLB Rays vs. Red Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Can Nathan Eovaldi Help Boston Salvage Series? (Sept. 8) article feature image
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Winslow Townson/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Eovaldi

  • The Rays and Red Sox square off on Wednesday evening at Fenway Park.
  • Tampa took the first two games of this series between AL East rivals.
  • Anthony Dabbundo previews the matchup below and makes his betting pick.

Rays vs. Red Sox Odds

Rays Odds -110
Red Sox Odds -110
Over/Under 9.5
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here

Tampa Bay has taken the first two games of this series through its explosive offense, posting 11 and 12 runs against Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox recently shaky bullpen. Boston is now looking over its shoulder at a surging Toronto, two games behind for the second wild-card spot.

The Red Sox hope that righty Nathan Eovaldi can help them avoid the sweep. Their offense will get another shot at Shane McClanahan after posting four runs on him in his last start on Thursday in Tampa Bay.

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Can Rays Get Enough From McClanahan?

McClanahan has great stuff and has shown flashes of being an excellent starter at this point in his young career, but consistency has been an issue. His 3.76 ERA is solid at face value, but his 4.65 xERA, .425 xwOBACON and hard hit rate allowed suggest he’s finding too much of the plate and getting hit hard.

He generates plenty of swings and misses and doesn’t walk many guys, but a good lineup can hit him hard and many good lineups have done exactly that this year.

McClanahan’s hard contact allowed despite a high strikeout rate is a major reason that there’s  a huge discrepancy between his FIP (3.27) and xERA (4.65). He’s pitched really well against Baltimore, but the better lineups like New York, Toronto and Boston have hit him much harder.

The Rays have one of the top offenses in the entire league, a drastic change from Tampa Bay teams of the past. One area where the Rays still have issues is in strikeouts, where the Rays rank among the top five in strikeout rate in MLB. For a strikeout pitcher like Eovaldi, the Rays’ lineup can be had if he avoids the power in the lineup.

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Eovaldi Gives Boston Significant Edge

Eovaldi’s recent struggles have taken him out of the AL Cy Young race, but his season-long numbers still make him one of the best starters in the league. His ERA is 3.73, but his xERA (3.50) and FIP (2.92) are much lower.

Eovaldi doesn’t give free passes as he averages 1.6 walks per nine, among the best in the league. His strikeout rate is a bit lower than last year, but still north of one batter per inning. His improved control has led to a career low in WHIP and a much lower HR/9 number.

He’s been much more consistent than McClanahan this year and has performed well against good lineups. He did have poor outings against Toronto and Tampa in back-to-back starts in July and August, but the righty has also produced stellar showings against some of the top lineups in the AL (CHW, TB, NYY) throughout the season.

Boston’s offense may not be as good as Tampa’s, but it’s more than capable of producing offense against McClanahan in this matchup. The Red Sox are top eight against lefties in wRC+ and don’t strike out much against southpaws, ranking in the bottom five.

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Rays-Red Sox Pick

Despite all of the offensive firepower Tampa Bay has, this game is a true toss-up because of Boston’s starting pitching edge at home. That edge isn’t being fully priced into the F5 line, though, where the Red Sox should be bigger favorites before Tampa has the bullpen edge in the later innings.

Anything -125 or better is good on Boston in the first five innings, but I wouldn’t advise a play on the full game because of the Red Sox bullpen woes.

Pick: Red Sox first five innings (-125 or better)

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