Red Sox vs. Rays Odds, Preview, Prediction: Fading Boston Starts Series in Tampa (August 30)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Wander Franco.
- Boston and Tampa begin an important four-game series Monday at Tropicana Field.
- After a strong start to the season, Boston has limped to the end of August with a sub-.500 record in the month.
- Mike Ianniello explains below why he expects those struggles to continue against AL East foe Tampa.
Red Sox vs. Rays Odds
|Red Sox Odds||+115|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
Just like a stingray gliding across the ocean floor, the Tampa Bay Rays love being under the radar. The Rays don’t make headlines, they aren’t flashy, they don’t have any superstars, and they just win baseball games.
Tampa Bay currently has the sixth best odds to win the World Series, despite having the second best record in the league. They hold a big lead in the best division in baseball and have won seven straight games. This team is 9-1 in the last 10 games and is 19-6 during August.
Boston was able to stop the stumble a bit to put together a solid 5-2 week but has still fallen from the division lead to the second wild-card spot with a tough start to the month. Now the Red Sox have the difficult task of closing out the month and kicking off September with four games against the best team in the American League.
Pivetta — Like Red Sox — Has Regressed
It has been an up-and-down year for Nick Pivetta (RHP) in his first full season in Boston. And more accurately, up then down. Pivetta started the year with a 2.81 ERA after his first five starts of the season. He was 6-0 on the season before he finally suffered a loss.
It was beginning to look like the Red Sox had fleeced the Phillies for him, starting 8-0 in his Boston career, but things have taken a sharp turn over the last couple of months. In his last eight starts, Pivetta has posted a 5.73 ERA. His K/9 rate has dropped to 8.60, from 10.04 across the full season.
Opponents have been able to tag Pivetta for at least three runs in six of his last eight games. Pivetta was able to toss scoreless outings in his first two meetings with Tampa Bay, but they got him for three runs in less than five innings the third time around back on August 1. Control has been an issue for Pivetta all season, as he ranks in the bottom fourth of the league in BB%, and his 3.95 BB/9 rate would be a career high.
The concern for Boston right now is their big guns are ice cold. After getting off to a phenomenal start of the year, over the last two weeks Rafael Devers is batting .216, J.D. Martinez is hitting .213 and Xander Bogaerts has really struggled to just a .196 average.
The only move the team did at the trade deadline was the addition of Kyle Schwarber, which seemed to puzzle fans at the time. He had been out with a hamstring injury but since making his Red Sox debut he is batting .349 with a 1.081 OPS and two home runs in his 13 games with Boston.
Tampa Bay is Loaded With Young Talent
Tampa Bay will look to keep things going with youngster Luis Patino (RHP) making his 12th career start. Patino was the headliner in the trade package the Rays received from San Diego in exchange for Blake Snell. Only four players in the league this season are younger than the 21 year old.
In his 10 starts this year, Patino has gone 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA and 4.08 xERA. He is still super young and has had some struggles at times, but the stuff is clearly there. He throws his fastball in the upper 90’s and has a nasty slider that is generating a 43.7% K% and is allowing just a .154 batting average against.
The pitching staff is the strength of this Tampa Bay team, but the offense has been really good as well. The Rays rank 11th in wOBA and sixth in wRC+ this year. During August, Tampa Bay has the fourth best wOBA and ranks second in wRC+.
While I don’t know that Tampa Bay has any players that would be considered “superstars” right now, they might very soon. The Rays two rookies have really hit their stride and have been crushing the ball recently. Over the last month, 26-year-old Randy Arozarena is batting .348 and 20-year-old Wander Franco is batting .326.
Red Sox-Rays Pick
The Tampa Bay Rays are a league-best 9-1 in their last 10 games and have won seven straight games. They are 19-6 in August and playing really good baseball right now. The Red Sox, are stumbling a bit and are just 12-14 this month.
Boston will head to Tropicana Field, where Tampa Bay has the second best home record in baseball and the best home winning percentage in the American League this year.
Pivetta has really struggled over the last couple months, and while Patino hasn’t been perfect, he has really good stuff and has shown his high-upside. Behind Patino, the Rays will deploy the best bullpen in the league. The Red Sox relievers have been just 13th in the league, and over the last month, rank 26th and have struggled with a 5.22 ERA.
The big bats of Boston have been ice cold recently, while Tampa Bay’s young guns are red hot and playing with a ton of confidence right now.
The Trop might be a dump, but the Rays have been great there all season. The Red Sox have made six trips to Tampa this season and have gone just 1-5 in the dome. I’ll back Tampa Bay to keep things rolling at home, at -135 or better.
Pick: Tampa Bay Rays ML -130 (Down to -135)