Heated rivals Boston and New York square off in a nationally televised, Saturday night contest. Let’s locate the best value being offered by top sportsbooks.
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 7:07 p.m. ET (FOX) in Yankee Stadium, the Bronx, New York
Who Is Zack Godley?
Active Yankee batters have not seen much of Boston starter Zack Godley (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Of the 35 collective at-bats that they’ve accumulated against him, 20 come from DJ LeMahieu. This lack of experience against Godley may work to Godley’s advantage. But this possible advantage is by no means a decisive one. So we need to look more into Godley.
Godley is not the type of pitcher who wants to blow a batter away. Instead, he’s all about location. In his season debut, 32 percent of his strikes landed in three spots in the lowest quadrant of the strike zone. He wants to keep his pitches low in order to induce more ground balls.
In his career, he’s inducing grounders at a 50-percent rate, which is very high. Godley’s pitch selection seems to be in transition. Last year, he was all about his sinker and curveball. In his 2020 debut, he didn’t throw a single sinker. Instead, his cutter and curveball combined to make up 96 percent of his pitching arsenal. With Godley expected to go longer in this start, I expect him to stress more of a third pitch. He’s featured a sinker for the duration of his career. So that remains an option. He also mixes in the occasional change-up.
Godley vs. Yankees Batters
Yankee batters rank 22nd in BA against the cutter, 7th vs the curveball, and own a paltry .135 BA vs ground ball pitchers.
Their success against the curveball may seem concerning. But, digging deeper, we find that their only hits this year against the curveball, when the pitcher throws it in the bottom row of the strike zone, came against a very young, no-namer (Travis Lakins) who pitches for Baltimore. Opponents are hitting .667 against Lakins’ curveball. So, clearly, he belongs to a much lower caliber than Godley. Godley’s ability to hit the lowest spot in the zone makes him an effective weapon against Yankee batters.
Tanaka vs. Red Sox Batters
Masahiro Tanaka makes his first start of the season after spending time on the IL due to a concussion. He has been slowly building up his pitch count and he hopes to elude any rust. Even if Tanaka were at his best, Boston is a dangerous opponent for him. In 230 at-bats, active Red Sox batters are hitting .287 and slugging .526 against Tanaka. Eight different Boston batters have over 10 at-bats against him. Five of them are hitting over .290 and five are slugging over .480.
J.D. Martinez, for example is 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles and three homers against Tanaka.
One thing that frequently occurs when Tanaka faces Boston is that he struggles to get his pitches to miss Boston bats.
For example, in a September start last year, Boston swung at pitches outside the strike zone at a higher rate than Tanaka had seen all season. In turn, Tanaka struck out Red Sox batters at one of his lowest rates on the season. So, Red Sox batters have an easier time tracking Tanaka’s pitches and following them with their bats.
I get that some people are inclined to write Boston off this year. But the Red Sox are not going to lay down for their rivals.
This is still a dangerous lineup, one that features sundry players who have built very strong historic successes against Tanaka. Match-up wise, I like Godley infinitely more than I do Tanaka, although the latter is the favored pitcher.
I have been making a lot of first-half bets, lately. But I like the full game here because both bullpens are very close in terms of ERA.
Boston’s top relievers also got a break last night. So they will be fresh. With my MLB Picks, I will bet on the Red Sox full-game run-line and get that extra run when the best sportsbooks release their odds. The Red Sox are heavily dogged. So I recommend waiting for the run-line to be published as the odds should be very attractive for the extra run that we are getting. But for now, you can already bet on the money line.