Red Sox vs Guardians Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Tuesday, June 6
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Ramirez.
- The Boston Red Sox are in Ohio to take on the Cleveland Guardians in the opener of a three-game set.
- With Shane Bieber on the hill, Cleveland has the starting pitching edge, but is that enough to offset what’s been a bad offense all season long?
- Mike Ianniello previews Red Sox vs. Guardians below, and makes a betting pick on the moneyline.
Red Sox vs. Guardians Odds
The most disappointing team in MLB this season likely comes down to either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Diego Padres. But if you’re looking just at the American League, the answer is the Cleveland Guardians.
Despite sitting in second place in the division due to the good fortune of playing in the dreadful AL Central, Cleveland sits five games below .500. It's already clear the Guardians' only shot at making the playoffs is winning their division.
Looking at the standings is probably frustrating for the Boston Red Sox as well. Despite a 30-30 record, three wins more than Cleveland, Boston sits in last place in the AL East. Streaky and inconsistent, the Sox enter this three-game series 4-10 over their last 14 contests.
Cleveland had the benefit of a day off on Monday, but does that give them an advantage, or will its struggles continue?
Read on to see my breakdown of Tuesday’s Red Sox vs. Guardians series opener at Progressive Field.
To be completely honest, if you told me James Paxton retired three years ago, I would have believed you. A longtime Seattle Mariner with a career 3.61 ERA in 10 seasons, Paxton has pitched just 10 games over the last four years.
After making five starts in 2020 with the New York Yankees, Paxton returned to Seattle in 2021 but he made just one start before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He sat out the entire 2022 campaign to recover and missed the first month of this season with a hamstring strain.
Paxton has been solid in three of his four starts with Boston, holding opponents to two runs or fewer thrice. He has been able to strikeout at least five batters in each start, with a fastball that still averages 96 mph. However, he has struggled with hard contact and home runs.
Boston’s offense got off to a terrific start this season. As a whole, the Sox rank fifth in wOBA and seventh in wRC+, mostly thanks to Rafael Devers and rookie Masataka Yoshida. But over the last two weeks, Boston ranks just 20th in wOBA and 22nd in wRC+.
Shane Bieber has always been an extremely conflicting pitcher for me.
On one hand, many Action Network MLB experts have continually pointed to Bieber as a clear fade candidate this season. His xERA (4.89) is more than a full run higher than his ERA (3.72). He also ranks in the bottom 10% of the league in HardHit% and bottom 15% in strikeout rate.
On the other hand, Bieber is a Cy Young Award winner, a two-time All-Star and has posted an ERA under 3.30 in every season since 2019. He's always been a guy who generates a ton of ground balls and knows how to work out of trouble. His xERA has been higher than his ERA for five straight seasons, including his Cy Young Award season in 2020. Maybe negative regression just isn't coming.
I have remained a Belieber over the years despite all the doubt. That being said, an alarming area of concern is his strikeout rate. After posting a 41.1% strikeout rate in 2020, that number has steadily dipped — 33.1% in 2021, 25% in 2022 and 16.9% through 12 starts in 2023.
Bieber’s game has always been generating a strikeout or a ground ball. But now the Cleveland defense behind him has taken a step back, and his inability to miss bats is resulting in his worst wOBA since his debut season (2018). He is still one of the smartest pitchers in the game and is able to work out of most jams, but he is going to need to start missing bats again.
Speaking of missing bats, what happened to Cleveland's offense?
The Guardians are last in the league with a wOBA of .285 and wRC+ of 79. They somehow have the second-lowest strikeout rate in the league, yet never get on base. Their 35 home runs are by far the lowest in MLB, 11 dingers shy of the next-closest team (Nationals; 46).
Red Sox vs. Guardians Betting Pick
Just for the record, I still think Bieber is a very good pitcher. When you continuously overperform your advanced metrics and expected numbers, at some point that is just who you are as a pitcher. My biggest concern with Bieber has just been his lack of strikeouts.
If he can't miss bats like he used to, he must rely on his defense even more. And while the Guardians relied on the shift less than any other team in the league, they have a negative DRS for the first time since 2019.
Paxton is nothing more than a replacement-level pitcher at this point in his career, so I still give Cleveland the advantage on the mound. However, I can't in good conscious bet my money on this offense.
The biggest weakness for Paxton in his short sample this year is home runs, but the Guardians hit fewer long balls than any team by a wide margin.
A wRC+ of 100 is considered league average. Jose Ramirez leads Cleveland in the category with a wRC+ of 102. Only two other players on this team even have a wRC+ over 93 (Josh Naylor, Steven Kwan).
To me, this game is a coin toss. Even with Cleveland's edge on the mound, Boston has the edge at the plate.
The smart bet is the Boston moneyline at +116, and I would play it down to +110.
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