Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Odds, Picks, Predictions: Intriguing Pitching Matchup Puts Value On Total In St. Petersburg (October 7)

Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Odds, Picks, Predictions: Intriguing Pitching Matchup Puts Value On Total In St. Petersburg (October 7) article feature image
Credit:

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Eduardo Rodriguez

Red Sox vs. Rays Odds

Red Sox Odds +140
Rays Odds -160
Over/Under 8 (-105 / -115)
Time 8:07 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

After taking care of the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, the Boston Red Sox visit scenic Tropicana Field brimming with confidence, and ready for a battle with their division rivals.

In a battle of left-handed pitching, does either team have a considerable edge? Do both pitchers have one? Let’s dive into the numbers.

Rodriguez Had Stellar Second Half For Red Sox

The left-hander the Red Sox will trot out to the hill in this one is none other than Eduardo Rodriguez, who was arguably this team’s best pitchers in the second half of the season. While Chris Sale gave Boston a ton in his nine starts, pitching to a 3.16 ERA, it was Rodriguez to carry the load all summer, going 7-3 with a 3.71 ERA and a low 2.89 FIP. This was an expected regression to the mean after an ugly first half which saw the left-hander carry a 5.52 ERA into the All-Star break.

Rodriguez’s 3.55 expected ERA, according to Statcast, paints his 4.74 ERA in 2021 in a much different light. Aside from the hit probabilities not being on his side, he was especially unfortunate to give up so many runs when you consider he struck out 27.4% of the hitters he faced this year, a career-best.

So, what about this Red Sox offense? Well, J.D. Martinez is dealing with a serious-looking ankle injury, casting a dark cloud over this otherwise decent lineup. This not only forced Christian Arroyo into action in the Wild Card Game to take Martinez’s place in the lineup, it also meant Jarren Duran — who struggled mightily at the plate when he was called up earlier in the year — would be brought back to the postseason roster.

With that, you have to take this fifth-best wRC+ since September with a grain of salt, but the team’s offensive production wouldn’t be so far off with Martinez out of the lineup for those games. The Red Sox also did well in his absence on Tuesday with 13 baserunners against Gerrit Cole and a red-hot Yankees bullpen.

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Rays Found Their Groove Against Southpaws

It’s hard to find a hotter team than the Tampa Bay Rays, who hit so well over the last few months of the season that they actually managed to crawl out of the basement against left-handed pitching. Southpaws were once the Achilles heel of this team, but with the addition of Nelson Cruz at the trade deadline, happy times are here again with a left-hander on the hill.

From September on, Tampa Bay ranked fourth in wRC+, cutting back on the strikeouts that had plagued it all season long, down to a 22.1% clip. The offensive production also translated against southpaws, bringing the Rays up to seventh in wRC+ to lefties. This offense is clicking in every way, though the one area where it might not be so strong is in the contact department, where it fell to 26th in the last month and change of the season.

The Rays also check in with the third-best bullpen in the second half, posting a sparkling 3.21 ERA that’s behind only the Giants and Dodgers in that period of time. That should be the biggest narrative in this game (and this series) considering Tampa Bay will be trotting out a rookie in Shane McClanahan.

While the rookie has an exceptional fastball and a high ceiling, this season has been trying at times. With that said, he’s allowed three earned runs in his past four outings, all of which have spanned 18 innings. He should be able to provide Tampa Bay a solid three or four innings before this stellar bullpen takes over.

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Red Sox-Rays Pick

Rodriguez has been phenomenal in the second half, and his improved swing-and-miss ability should come in handy against a Rays team that, while not striking out as much lately, isn’t making very much contact with the ball. I have enough faith in Rodriguez to keep Tampa Bay relatively quiet, and that is where the Rays take over.

While I think the Rays win here, this is a steep price to pay with a good pitcher and a hot offense on the other side. I do think McClanahan has found something, and wouldn’t dare fade this bullpen. With that, I love playing the under. I don’t think Rodriguez is getting enough respect with this number.

Pick: Under 8 (-115)

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