Rockies vs. Red Sox: Playing 'Under' 9.5 Our Sharp MLB Pick Tonight

Thursday, May 26, 2016 1:31 PM GMT

Jon Gray of the Rockies comes off his worst start of the year, but he has probably out-performed his ERA more than any other pitcher, making ‘Under’ the MLB pick vs. the Red Sox.

 

MLB Record: 29-27-1, +5.75

There could be a perfect example of why ERA can be a useless statistic for predictive purposes Thursday night when peripheral numbers suggest that ‘under' is the play when Jon Gray and the Colorado Rockies (21-24, 13-14 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Clay Buchholz and the Boston Red Sox (29-17, 18-9 home) for the finale of a three-game interleague series from Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:10 ET in a game available on NESN.

The posted total at Bovada is 9½ for this contest with the current MLB odds on the ‘under' set at -105.

Boston From Worst to First
The Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East last season for the second year in a row and the third time in four years. Oddly, the one time in that span when Boston did not finish last, it won the 2013 World Series! Well, many experts predicted a “worst to first” move by the Red Sox this year, and so far so good as they now have sole possession of first place after winning the first two games of this series 8-3 and 10-3 respectively.

The Rockies also finished last in their division the National League West in 2015, but unlike the Red Sox, Colorado really did not make any off-season moves to suggest there would be much improvement this year. Thus, they have been a pleasant surprise at 21-24 and they have been especially surprising with their 13-14 record as MLB picks on the road even after losing the last two nights.

Very Deceiving ERA
Now we look for the Colorado starter Gray to quiet the Boston bats for one night. Granted Gray comes off of his worst start of the year as he was lit up for nine earned runs on eight hits plus three walks in just 3.1 innings by the St. Louis Cardinals, but he already showed he is a much better pitcher than that, allowing a total of four runs and 10 hits with 24 strikeouts in 20 innings his previous three starts and we are anticipating a return to that kind of form here.

In fact it would be very easy to dismiss Gray when looking at his mainstream stats as he is currently 1-2 with a whopping 6.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. However, a deeper look shows that he has very strong peripherals with 39 strikeouts in 32 innings vs. 10 walks and two home runs allowed, and he has been very unlucky with both a very high .376 BABIP allowed and a very low 50.9 percent strand rate.

Those two stats will not stay at those current levels, and when everything shakes out, Gray grades out to a terrific 2.59 FIP and 2.66 xFIP, with the four-run variances between those figures and the ERA being one of the largest differences we have ever seen! That is a strong indication that very good things are in store for Gray the rest of the season.

Can Buchholz Keep Rockies in Check?
Now, Buchholz has certainly been erratic for the Red Sox as he is 2-4 with a bloated 5.92 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, but he has a chance for an improved outing here facing a struggling Colorado offense that has topped three runs once in the last five games, and as is always the case, the Rockies are not hitting as well or scoring as many runs on the road this year as they do in the altitude of home despite the improved road record relative to past years.

And it is not as if Buchholz is not capable of turning in a good effort vs. a suspect offense, as he does come off of his third Quality Start of the season vs. the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Furthermore, it would behoove the Red Sox well to remove Buchholz at the first sign of trouble, and a relatively short outing would actually be a good thing for the ‘under' considering that Boston ranks seventh in the Major Leagues with a 3.04 bullpen ERA.

Also, both Buchholz and Gray are making their first ever starts vs. their respective opponents tonight, a circumstance that is usually to the advantage of the pitcher.

Trending the ‘Under'
Finally, the ‘under' is 8-2-2 in Buchholz's last 12 starts when pitching with five days of rest as he is here, 8-3 in his last 11 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance and 9-4-1 in his last 14 home starts. The ‘under' is also 9-4 in the Rockies' last 13 games vs. teams with winning records.

So despite the obvious offensive prowess of the Red Sox, we expect both of these starting pitchers to do enough to produce an ‘under' when Colorado wraps up an interleague series at Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday.

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MLB Pick: Under 9½ (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Bovada