MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Red Sox vs. Phillies: Can Nathan Eovaldi Keep Boston’s Momentum (Saturday, May 22)

MLB  Odds, Preview, Prediction for Red Sox vs. Phillies: Can Nathan Eovaldi Keep Boston’s Momentum (Saturday, May 22) article feature image
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Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox.

  • The Boston Red Sox are cruising right now, winners of three straight and sitting atop the AL East division standings.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies, on the other hand, seem to be moving in the opposite direction. They hope that starting pitcher Spencer Howard is part of the solution as he makes his debut start on Saturday.
  • Check out MLB betting analyst Michael Arinze's comprehensive betting guide for Red Sox vs. Phillies, which includes updated odds, in-depth analysis and Arinze's pick for Saturday's game.

Red Sox vs. Phillies Odds

Red Sox Odds -130
Phillies Odds +110
Over/Under 8.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 7:15 p.m. ET
TV FOX (Regional)
Odds updated Saturday afternoon and via FanDuel.

The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are two teams that appear to be heading in  opposite directions — at least for the immediate future.

Philadelphia has lost three straight games and has fallen 2.5 games behind the division-leading New York Mets. Meanwhile, Boston has won its last three games to further secure its position in first place atop the AL East.

After an 11-3 drubbing on Friday, Philadelphia will try to bounce back with their second-year pitcher, Spencer Howard, who will be making his first start of the season. Nathan Eovaldi will oppose Howard for the Red Sox.

Boston opened as a -125 road favorite, but that line is already starting to tick up at some sportsbooks. Let’s dig into this matchup, and I’ll share why I agree with this market move on Boston for this game.

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Boston Red Sox

After nine starts this season, Nathan Eovaldi is 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA. While an ERA approaching five probably isn’t something that would ordinarily impress bettors, a closer look at his advanced numbers show that he’s pitched even better than that.

Eovaldi sports a 2.17 FIP, which is more than two runs lower than his current ERA. If there’s anyone who deserves some positive regression, it’s Eovaldi. He’s yet to give up a home run this year, and his 1.98 BB/9 ratio is more than manageable.

I think Eovaldi has run into a bit of tough luck this season, considering that opposing hitters have a .247 average against him. However, that number jumps to .327 on balls put into play (BABIP).

Another thing I noticed about Eovaldi is that he carries a 1.18 WHIP, which is fairly low for someone with a 4.50 ERA. Furthermore, since he’s yet to give up any home runs, I suspected that his earned runs must be coming in bunches and likely with men on base.

My theory proved to be correct after checking Eovaldi’s splits. Batters are hitting .207 against him with the bases empty, but .301 with a runner on first base and .333 with runners in scoring position. In fact, all 25 of Eovaldi’s earned runs have come with men in scoring position. In other words, he’s not allowed any extra-base hits with a runner on first who then comes around to score. That’s certainly something his backers can hang their hat on.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Spencer Howard is considered to be a top-50 prospect in all of baseball. However, those expectations haven’t necessarily transferred over to the major league level just yet. Through six starts, the 24-year-old is 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA.

While the Phillies view Howard as someone who can pitch in their rotation, all three of his appearances have come via relief opportunities. He hasn’t pitched more than two innings in a game, and Phillies president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, already said that Howard would be limited to about 60 pitches for his first start.

It wasn’t that long ago when teams would actually send pitchers to the minors to get stretched out. But, because we live in an age of instant gratification, highly-regarded prospects are frequently thrown into the fire before they’ve had the proper seasoning.

The decision to start Howard in this spot is a peculiar one, especially when you consider that the Phillies bullpen will be expected to eat a ton of innings since Howard will be on a pitch count. Philadelphia’s relievers rank 22nd in MLB with a 4.50 ERA, and they’re tied for the fourth-most blown saves (9). That’s not exactly setting yourself up for success considering they’ll likely be called into action early in the game.

Howard has an 8.31 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP thus far. No matter how promising he may be as a young pitcher, Philadelphia’s bullpen is a definite red flag for me. Usually, the offense has been able to slug its way out of these pitching woes, but with J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius now on the IL, Bryce Harper is left to carry the load without protection from key hitters around him.

Harper has failed to register a hit in his last 11 at-bats.

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Red Sox-Phillies Pick

Some bettors might be inclined to back the Phillies because Boston has never faced Howard — or perhaps due to Philadelphia’s .328 /.377 /.469 line against Eovaldi. While I don’t necessarily judge those premises to be wrong, one must also consider that the team is clearly slumping offensively. Philadelphia has managed just four runs in its last three games.

The other x-factor will be the Phillies bullpen. My modeling takes into account expected innings pitched by bullpens. Philadelphia already has five relievers who have thrown at least 35 pitches in the last three days — and three have thrown at least 44 pitches during that span.

To sum things up, I like Boston to notch their fourth consecutive win on Saturday.

Philadelphia’s looming bullpen fatigue is worrisome for me — along with an unproven second-year pitcher making his first start of the season, and a sputtering offense.

Surprisingly, FanDuel is offering quite a discount on the Red Sox as the prohibitive favorite. You can grab them at -120 while it’s still available.

Pick: Red Sox ML (-120)

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