New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Friday Odds, Picks, Predictions
Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees.
- The Yankees are a road favorite over the Red Sox on opening day for both teams.
- New York will send Gerrit Cole to the mound, part of the reason why this line is so high, but Anthony Dabbundo is going the other way.
- Get his full Yankees vs. Red Sox pick and preview below.
Yankees vs. Red Sox Odds
|Red Sox Odds||+145|
|Time||1:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don’t typically play one another on Opening Day of their respective seasons, but the cancellation of the first week of games left them renewing their historic rivalry for a weekend series in the Bronx.
The Yankees will want revenge on their wild-card meeting, when the Red Sox smashed Gerrit Cole and the Yankees in Fenway Park. The Red Sox chased Cole out of the game in the third inning and rolled to a 6-2 victory before getting as far as Game 6 of the ALCS against the Astros.
Friday’s opener will be a pitching rematch of that playoff game as Nathan Eovaldi takes the ball for Boston while Cole is carrying the front end of a Yankees rotation that enters 2022 with a lot of question marks behind him.
New York Yankees
Cole didn’t quite match the strikeout numbers from his peak seasons in Houston in 2018 and 2019, but he was extremely effective at the top of New York’s rotation in 2021. His FIP (2.93) and xERA (3.10) were both lower than his actual ERA of 3.23 last season and he projects as one of the best starters in baseball once again in 2022. His 12.1 K/9 last year ranked third among all starters.
With that being said, Cole made only two appearances this spring. And while manager Aaron Boone hasn’t given a concrete number of his pitch limit, he has indicated that the ace will be on one on Friday.
“There’s definitely a pitch-count factor there,” Boone told media. “There are certain places that I probably wouldn’t go with him. And then certainly trying to pay attention to how he’s doing, how he’s responding, how he’s physically holding up.”
He probably would have won the Cy Young if he hadn’t really struggled in the final month of the season as the innings piled up. Given Cole’s lack of spring training work, don’t expect to see him go into the seventh or eighth inning as he is capable of doing in more normal situations.
The Yankees lineup had issues putting the ball in play in 2021, which had not been an issue for the lineup in years past. The additions of Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo at the trade deadline didn’t provide the added pop to the bats, but did mean they struck out more. The Yankees finished 2021 in the bottom-seven of strikeout rate in MLB.
Josh Donaldson was the marquee addition this offseason, and how the lineup handles Eovaldi’s fastball will be a major key in this matchup. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton project well against fastballs, but there’s very high whiff rates across the rest of the lineup when you look at the 2021 numbers.
Boston Red Sox
Eovaldi had arguably a career year for the Red Sox in 2021, matched only by his 2018 showing that earned him the big contract extension following their World Series win. His 2.79 FIP was the lowest of his lengthy 10-year career as a starter, and his elite control made it difficult for teams to string together hits on him.
The Red Sox ace had just a 3.75 ERA, which was significantly lower than his expected stats suggested he pitched.
His 3.35 xERA suggests he was quite unlucky to have an ERA as high as he did. One reason for that was Eovaldi’s lowest strand rate of his career at just 70%. He struggled to get out of innings, and that tends to be a very noisy indicator with a lot of variance and not much predictive value. If that regresses positively toward his career average, you could expect Eovaldi to potentially have an even better 2022 season.
Unlike Cole, Eovaldi did have a more regular spring training program and will likely to be able to go deeper into the game than his Yankees’ counterpart. That’s crucial because the Red Sox do project to have a worse bullpen than the Yankees and limiting those bullpen innings helps Boston here.
In four games against Cole last season, the Red Sox had an impressive slash line of .279/.340/.512. They’re typically a very aggressive lineup, swinging early and hunting for fastballs. But two of the lineup’s best fastball hitters — Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe — are no longer with the team.
The main lineup addition was Trevor Story, who isn’t nearly as good as the hitters he is replacing at hitting fastballs. He had just a +4 run value on them in 2021, which is above average but not a matchup advantage when Cole is throwing.
Yankees-Red Sox Pick
This matchup is likely to be decided by how available Cole actually is for the Yankees. It’s hard to project them without knowing how long one of the league’s best pitchers is going to go in this game. But even beyond Cole’s usage, his effectiveness is also uncertain.
The Red Sox had a clear game plan to attack and hunt fastballs on Cole last year, and it was effective. That approach forced Cole to go off speed more, he fell behind in counts and struggled to get through the Red Sox deep lineup.
Cole is sure to make some adjustments to his own approach, but this is probably the last lineup he wants to see to begin the season. Because of all of the uncertainty surrounding Cole, I’m backing the Red Sox at an undervalued price with the potential for Cole to either not go deep into this game, or not be at his best on Friday afternoon.
I have questions about the Red Sox pitching depth this season — which is likely to be their biggest issue — but that’s less relevant with everyone available in the bullpen on opening day and Eovaldi on the mound.
Pick: Red Sox +145 | Bet to: +135
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