Sunday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Red Sox vs. Nationals: Boston Looks To Clinch Spot Behind Chris Sale (Oct. 3)
Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Sale
- The Red Sox are heavy favorites to get the job done today and clinch a playoff spot with their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound.
- The Nationals will counter with rookie Joan Adon, who is making his major-league debut.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.
Red Sox vs. Nationals Odds
|Red Sox Odds||-225|
|Time||3:05 p.m. ET|
The magnitude of the Red Sox victory Saturday night cannot be overstated. Boston was tied 1-1 in the ninth inning with a chance to take over the top wild-card spot from the Yankees (including season-long tiebreakers).
Christian Vazquez, Travis Shaw, and Enrique Hernández came up big.
KIKÉ HERNANDEZ with the exclamation mark ❗️❗️❗️
Red Sox have a 4-run 9th inning with their season on the line. pic.twitter.com/XkFyGVHWT4
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) October 2, 2021
However, the Red Sox are still in jeopardy, given how close the AL wild-card race is. But on the bright side, they control their own destiny. And with Chris Sale on the mound, Boston’s a big favorite in their season finale.
But does that mean Boston has value in this game? Or is there a better angle we can take?
Let’s dive into this monumentally important Game 162.
Red Sox Hope Sale Can Help Them Avoid Chaos
For all the ups and downs that the Red Sox have had this season, you have to give them credit. Incredibly, they’re in this position with one game left to play.
Thanks to winning the season series against the Yankees 10-9, a win today guarantees the AL Wild Card game will be played at Fenway. However, a loss today means everything is up for grabs.
So, can the Red Sox win this game and avoid the chaos?
The answer is yes, of course. Boston’s been a top-10 offense over the past two weeks (.335 wOBA, 109 wRC+) and is facing a rookie pitcher making his MLB debut. The former National Kyle Schwarber has been the engine of the Boston offense, posting an 18% walk rate and a .393 OBP in September. Schwarber’s been the most effective Red Sox hitter behind Bobby Dalbec, so it’s fair to say he was an excellent deadline pickup.
Meanwhile, the Sox will send their ace to the mound.
It’s slightly surprising to see Sale today, given we all expected he’d pitch in the Wild Card Game. However, if the Red Sox and Yankees both win today, Nathan Eovaldi would get the start.
Sale hasn’t been quite as dominant as in recent years, but he’s still an above-average starting pitcher. He pairs his 2.90 ERA with a 3.34 xFIP, and while his strikeout rate is down, he’s still punching out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
Even after Tommy John, it’s hard to find a better fastball-slider combo in the big leagues:
Chris Sale, 93mph Fastball and 79mph Slider, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/qPTCwXbNZL
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 28, 2021
While he had a stellar first three starts in August (2.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP), he lagged a bit in his five September starts (3.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). His exit velocity is up across all three pitches, which gives me a slight pause for concern:
Nationals’ Pitching Has Been Roughed Up
Josiah Gray looked pretty good Saturday.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 2, 2021
One of the main pieces in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner deal, Nats fans should be very pleased to see him perform well. Gray will be a massive part of the team’s future.
How’s the rest of this re-built squad doing?
In short, not great. They posted a 7-20 record in August and a 10-18 record in September, and have won just 31% of their games in the second half. The offense can be dangerous, but the pitching is a disaster — the Nationals’ staff posted the second-worst FIP in September (5.46).
The bullpen is the worst in the league. Saturday night, Washington sent Tanner Rainey to pitch the final two frames. In a one-run game, the Nats went to a guy who’s posted an ERA approaching eight this season. Predictably, he allowed three earned runs.
The Nationals’ bullpen has posted the worst reliever FIP (5.76) since August started. Unfortunately, this will be their last game, because betting live overs in the Nationals game has been free money.
Joan Adon will get the start for Washington’s 162nd game. The No. 16 overall prospect for the Nationals has had an intriguing minor-league career. While his lifetime minor league ERA is 5.22, he posted a 2.10 FIP and a 2.28 xFIP in 14 Double-A starts.
He’s a strikeout machine. He posted a 15.41 K/9 in those Double-A appearances, although he’s a bit wild, walking more than three batters per nine in the process.
Joan Adon is the reigning @MiLB Pitcher of the Week for High-A East.
Last night, he made his Double-A debut:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 28, 2021
Red Sox-Nationals Pick
There’s not much value in this game. The Red Sox are hovering close to -230 on the moneyline, and we have a double-digit over despite Sale pitching.
The Red Sox team total is all the way up at six, which is also too high for my liking.
However, we do have an under-leaning umpire behind the plate. Fielden Culbreth is 250-232 lifetime to the under (51.9%, +12.85 units), allowing just 8.2 runs per game.
Therefore, I’d like to recommend two plays on this game:
First, I’m going to bet the under 10. Then, just before they pull Adon, I’m going to hope we get a live total of 7.5 or better, and bet the live over.
The hope is that Sale and a potentially undervalued Adon deal in the early frames, and then the Nationals’ bullpen blows up as they have the entire second half. This provides a great middle option while minimizing losses on either side.
Pick: Under 10 (-110) | Live over 7.5 or better (-110 or better)