The Boston Red Sox created a seismic shift in the American League landscape when they traded for one of baseball's premier starting pitchers, Chris Sale. Let's see how this affects the MLB odds and if Boston is worth investing in this season
Boston Boasts Big 3
The Red Sox brass broke open the vault in order to pry Sale from the clutches of the Chicago White Sox. In order to woo Sale from Chicago, Boston gave up Yoan Moncada, the top-rated prospect in all of baseball, as well as one of its best pitching prospects in Michael Kopech, whose fastball routinely clocks in at 100 mph.
The Windy City is the only professional home Sale has ever known and he has thrived since being selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. At age 27, he is already a five-time All-Star and is now a member of a loaded Red Sox rotation.
MLB Odds Plummet On Red Sox
Boston now has a pitching super group featuring the reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, the 2012 Cy Young winner David Price and now 2015's strikeout king in Sale. It is an intimidating starting three, but was the acquisition of Sale worthy of the MLB odds makers shearing Boston's World Series odds from 10-1 to 5-1? Are the Red Sox now automatically deserving of inclusion in your MLB picks going forward? Let's maintain some perspective in all of this and delay the coronation for just a bit.
There have been other examples of teams amassing dominating starting pitching, but it doesn't necessarily signal the inevitability of a World Series title. Cleveland's Early Wynn (23-11, 2.73), Bob Lemon (23-7, 2.72), Mike Garcia (19-8, 2.64), Art Houtteman (15-7, 3.35) and Bob Feller (13-3, 3.09) combined for 93 of the Indians' then-record 111 victories in 1954. But all that stellar pitching failed to usher in a championship as the Giants defeated the Indians in the World Series that season.
The 1993 Braves saw future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux (20-10, 2.36), Tom Glavine (22-6, 3.20) and John Smoltz (15-11, 3.62) combine as one of the most feared threesomes in baseball history yet they never even made it into the World Series that season, falling to the Phillies in the NLCS. That same Atlanta trio also fell to the Padres in the NLCS in 1998.
And another great Big 3 rotation in baseball history coalesced in 2011 when the Philadelphia Phillies won 102 games due in large part to Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35), Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79), Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40). The Phillies bowed to the Cardinals in the NLDS that season.
So before you go out and throw all your money on the Red Sox, remember that this season's edition of baseball's holy trinity may not be all that -- and this is coming from someone born and bred in Boston. Porcello deserved the Cy Young last season, but it will be the last one he ever wins. He's a very good pitcher, though not elite. His first season in Boston (2015) was an injury-laden debacle. He finished with a 9-15 record in 28 starts and tied his career-high ERA at 4.92. The fans were calling for his head until he rebounded with a tremendous season in 2016.
Price, the Red Sox's big free-agent signing from last season, tanked at first under the white-hot spotlight of the Boston media horde. He will be better in 2017, but will he ever return to his previous Cy Young self? Doubtful, particularly in Boston where stars fall from the sky with regularity in not-so-friendly Fenway.
And now we have Sale, whose fastball has been losing velocity over the last few years and is trending higher in home runs allowed per nine innings. He also had his highest hardball hit rate against (31.7 percent) in 2016. His previous high was 27.9 percent in 2013 and Sale struck out the fewest percentage of batters (25.7 percent) last year since 2013 as well.
So tread cautiously when betting the Big Bad Boys from Boston because what you see may not be what you get!