MLB Playoffs Red Sox vs. Rays Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rookie Shane Baz Favored Over Ace Chris Sale In Game 2 (October 8)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Baz
- Rookie Shane Baz and the Rays are favored over Chris Sale and the Red Sox in Game 2 tonight in St. Petersburg.
- Baz has made just three career starts but the top prospect gets the call against Boston's ace in a big game.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.
Red Sox vs. Rays Odds
|Red Sox Odds||+100|
|Over/Under||7 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||7:02 p.m. ET|
Shane McClanahan and the Tampa pitching staff completely shut down the Red Sox offense on Thursday night. Nine hits were scattered across nine shutout innings, and the Rays made their early lead stand up in a 5-0 shutout victory to gain a 1-0 series lead in the ALDS.
The Rays jumped all over Eduardo Rodriguez and knocked the starting pitcher out of the game after just 1 2/3 innings. Boston’s bullpen kept them in the game for a while, but the offense did the Red Sox no favors, and the few threats were snuffed out promptly.
Boston needs a win to even the series while Tampa is looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead before things shift to the northeast. We’ve got Chris Sale against Shane Baz on Friday night in St. Petersburg. Let’s see where we can find value.
Sale Needs To Be Red Sox’s Stopper
Sale has had an interesting season since being activated in mid-August following a year and a half away. He’s not striking out batters at his standard, all-time-great rate (Sale’s 5.33 K/BB is the best in MLB history), but it’s still a very good 28.4% strikeout rate, and his raw swinging strike percentage is pretty much in line with his career average.
What’s crazy about his stat line, though, is that advanced metrics think he’s actually been lucky in posting a 3.16 ERA, as xFIP (3.35) and xERA (3.49) are both markedly higher, while DRA is more in line at 3.20. This is particularly wild when you consider that Sale is allowing an unsustainably high .358 BABIP, and his hard contact percentages aren’t anything out of the ordinary.
Sale faced the Rays in his fourth and fifth starts back to mixed results. He had double-digit swinging strikes in both outings, and he allowed a combined three earned runs in 9 2/3 innings. He only lasted 3 2/3 innings in his second start because an error allowed five unearned runs to score.
This is only Sale’s fifth career postseason start, and the results in the previous four are scattershot enough to not draw any super meaningful conclusions.
The Boston offense is considerably better against right-handers than lefties, which should find them more success than they had against McClanahan on Thursday night. If they get J.D. Martinez back — he’s on the postseason roster but did not start Game 1 — it would obviously provide a huge lift.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays face their second-straight lefty, and after knocking Rodriguez out of the game early in Game 1, they will look to do the same to Sale. Tampa’s offense is better against righties, but like Boston’s, is good against both sides of the plate regardless.
What will be interesting is if Sale’s swing-and-miss stuff will prove more of a detriment given Tampa’s propensity to whiff.
Despite being tied for the third-best offense in baseball by wRC+, the Rays struck out at the fifth-highest rate in the majors during the regular season, and the highest rate of any playoff team. Sale struck out nine total in those two early outings, so they did a decent job of putting the bat on the ball overall.
I’m burying the lead here a bit here, as the real story for Tampa on Friday is starting pitcher Baz. The top prospect joined the Rays in September and made three starts down the stretch, showing phenomenal swing-and-miss stuff, and it’s easy to envision him headlining the rotation for the foreseeable future.
The fact that he’s getting the call for Game 2 of this series shows the trust Kevin Cash and the Tampa front office have in him.
Every stat worth citing for Baz has a small sample size caveat, but in three starts he has induced a whopping 32 swinging strikes, and opposing batters are hitting just .130 against him. That latter figure will come back to earth a bit, of course, but Baz has phenomenal stuff and has the opportunity to immediately become a Rays postseason hero.
Red Sox-Rays Pick
The Rays have been undervalued all season long. This team won 100 games in a division where four teams won 90 or more games — something that’s never been done before in baseball history.
They proved their dominance in Game 1, and I’m high enough on Baz to think they actually have the pitching advantage in Game 2, too, even with someone as dominant as Sale has been during his career on the opposite side.
The Rays used three relievers on Thursday, but only J.P. Feyereisen threw enough to make his availability unlikely. Tampa has a plethora of arms at its disposal, and that bullpen plus Baz seems a terrible mismatch for the Red Sox’s scary, but occasionally inconsistent, offense.
The Rays are home favorites for the second-straight day, and they’re rightfully favorites again here. I like them at -120 and would bet them to -130.
Pick: Rays -120, bet to -130