Red Sox vs. Rays Odds, Pick, Prediction, Preview: Offense Will Rule in AL East Showdown

Red Sox vs. Rays Odds, Pick, Prediction, Preview: Offense Will Rule in AL East Showdown article feature image
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Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Wander Franco rounds third after his home run on Tuesday.

  • The Red Sox and Rays meet on Wednesday night in St. Petersburg.
  • Rays star prospect Wander Franco should once again be in the lineup as Garrett Richards takes on Rich Hill.
  • Kenny Ducey breaks down Red Sox vs. Rays and makes his betting pick below.

Red Sox vs. Rays Odds

Red Sox Odds +128
Rays Odds -150
Over/Under 9 (+100 / -122)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings.

The Red Sox will look to maintain their dominance over the rest of the AL East with a second straight win at The Trop, but standing in their way will be the left arm of Rich Hill, and in many ways, the right arm of their own Garrett Richards.

The pitching matchup is a weird one, and although Richards seems clearly less effective than Hill, there are many more factors at play here. Is there value in skipping the sides, and just targeting the total? Let’s take a look at the matchup below.

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Red Sox To Rely On Richards

The Sox keep on hitting, ranking eighth in wRC+ over the past two weeks and hitting a cool .268 at the plate; but Wednesday will represent one of the bigger challenges for this ballclub lately, and that’s getting to lefties. Once one of the best lineups in the league against left-handed pitching, Boston has slipped to 11th in baseball with a .753 OPS. It’s hardly a bad number, but it’s not quite the fast start we saw from Boston, and that’s due to a recent regression.

Still, that’s just nitpicking. The AL East leaders have been strong at the plate, and four times over the last six games they’ve scored seven or more runs. It’s going to be important for the offense to keep up with the guy who’s on the hill Tuesday.

Richards will start once more for the Red Sox, and he’s struggled quite a bit this season. His 53.9% hard-hit rate is the worst among qualified pitchers, his strikeout rate is down for a fourth straight year, all the way to 19.2%, and his walk rate is 10.5%. There’s simply nothing this guy is doing well right now, and the only thing that he and the Sox can hope for is for the Tampa Bay offense to keep on slumping.

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Rays Hope Franco Can Give Offense A Jolt

You never want to talk about just one guy when it comes to projecting how a team will fare, but the impact of Wander Franco on this Tampa Bay lineup is real. Unlike many of the prospects this season and last who have been hyped into oblivion, Franco enters the league with tantalizing tools. He’s an 80-grade hitter with 60-grade power. He had a .954 OPS in Triple-A this year. I realize you probably know Franco is good, but I just wanted to contextualize how good he really is. Having this guy hitting second will give the Rays a considerable boost.

This Rays’ offense could really use the shot in the arm, too. It has an 89 wRC+ and lowly 26.5% strikeout rate over the past two weeks, and has really failed to get production from anyone not named Randy Arozarena, Joey Wendle or Kevin Kiermaier. Franco adds a fourth name to the mix, and if Brandon Lowe is able to get it going again, you’ve got an above-average offense once again.

Hill is tonight’s pitcher, and while he hasn’t exactly been himself, it’s really hard to figure out what “himself” is when you consider the drastic swings in all of his numbers through the years. The common denominator has been outs, and Hill once again has a nice 3.64 ERA this season. His hard-hit rate is up from where it’s been in years’ past, but his strikeout rate has come back up to an above-average number after slumping in the shortened 2020 season.

Red Sox-Rays Pick

The pitching is going to dictate how I’m betting this game, and that means a focus on the total.

Richards has been spectacularly bad this year, though his game-level results really haven’t been as bad as they should be, and the Rays have struggled at the plate. Hill’s had the results, but the peripherals look bad and this Boston offense has been raking. It’s simply too difficult to pick between a pitcher.

With that being said, both of these guys are going to give up runs. Hill won’t be able to rely on missed bats with the Red Sox’s low 22% strikeout rate, and Richards should face some adversity in the form of a Rays lineup that’s now looking more formidable with Franco in the fold.

I’m backing the over here at plus odds.

Pick: Over 9 (+100)

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