MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Red Sox vs. Rays: Can Chris Sale Keep Boston in Playoff Race? (Sept. 1)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Red Sox vs. Rays: Can Chris Sale Keep Boston in Playoff Race? (Sept. 1) article feature image
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Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Rafael Devers #11, Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox.

  • The Boston Red Sox face the Rays on the road in Tampa in the third game of their four-game series.
  • Boston has lost four straight and the Red Sox need a win to keep pace in the competitive AL Wild Card race.
  • Mike Vitanza previews the matchup, including why he sees value on the road underdog.

Red Sox vs. Rays Odds

Red Sox Odds -115
Rays Odds -105
Moneyline -115 / -105
Over/Under 7.5
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet.

The Tampa Bay Rays took the first game of this divisional matchup against the Boston Red Sox by the score of 8-5 at home on Tuesday night.

The Rays were led offensively by Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz in the victory. Arozarena had a solo home run in the second inning, while Diaz had a multi-hit game and drove in two runs. Wander Franco, Austin Meadows and Francisco Meija also drove in runs for the home team.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, did manage 10 hits and scored three runs late in the game, but could not complete the comeback. Kyle Schwarber contributed a solo home run, while Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and JD Martinez also added RBI’s in the loss.

With a healthy Chris Sale on the mound, should we count on the Red Sox to even this important divisional series on the road on Wednesday night?

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Can Chris Sale Pitch Enough Innings for Boston?

Sale is back in dominant form for the Red Sox and will make his fourth start of the season for the team on Wednesday night. Over 15 1/3 innings, Sale has compiled a 3-0 record, 3.75 FIP and is striking out batters at a strong 12.3 K/9 clip.

His advanced numbers also suggest that the old Sale is back. His 30.6% Hard Hit rate and 5.6% Barrel rate are both in line with what we’ve seen from him throughout most of his career.

The biggest concern here is length, as we haven’t seen manager Alex Cora push Sale past 5 1/3 innings yet in any of his first three starts. He will be on an extra day’s rest, however, which could give him confidence to allow him to go further into tonight’s game if necessary.

He’ll take on a Rays team that has struggled against left-handed pitching so far this season with a .308 wOBA so far in such situations, the 6th-worst mark amongst all teams.

Even if Sale can’t give the team distance, Cora will have no hesitation turning the ball over to a bullpen that has been strong so far this year. Over 482 innings, they’ve collectively pitched to a 3.99 FIP, the ninth-best amongst all Major League teams.

Drew Rasmussen Faces a Tough Test

Rasmussen will get the nod for the Rays on Tuesday night in what will amount to his sixth start of the season for Rays thus far. Rasmussen has excelled for the Rays since joining the team in June. Over 35 innings pitched with Tampa Bay, he’s compiled a 2.96 FIP and has allowed an average of just 0.51 HR/9 to opposing batters.

The Rays have been gradually stretching him out over the course of August, but he’s been making progress in terms of his longevity. His previous start lasted five innings, the most he’s accumulated on the mound in one outing all season. He found success in that one, allowing just one earned run on four hits against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tonight’s task, however, won’t be an easy one. He’ll be taking on a Red Sox team that has been one of the best in baseball against right-handed pitching this season, collectively hitting to a .333 wOBA, the fourth-best average in all of baseball.

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Red Sox-Rays Pick

Given the talent disparity between Sale and Rasmussen, there is a glorious betting opportunity here on the Red Sox.

Sale is a mismatch against nearly any opponent, but especially one like the Rays that doesn’t hit left-handed pitching particularly well. Even if he can’t push into the sixth inning or later, the Red Sox bullpen has more than enough firepower to close the door.

On the other side, Rasmussen is still being stretched out and will take on a Red Sox team that has been extremely strong against righties so far on the season. Yes, the Rays bullpen is also a formidable unit, but if Sale and the Red Sox bullpen hold up their end of the bargain, the Boston offense will not need many runs for this bet to pay off.

I’m taking the Red Sox money line here at the current number, but I would be comfortable playing it all the way up through the -130 range.

Pick: Red Sox ML (-105)

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