Free MLB Picks: Back David Price Against His Former Rays Team

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 12:12 PM GMT

The best pitcher in Tampa Bay Rays history was David Price. The Boston lefty gets another shot with odds in his favor at his former teammates in the first game on Wednesday.

Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Through the end of May, the Red Sox looked like the class of the American League with a 32-20 mark (only club in AL with a winning percentage of at least .600) and a three-game lead atop the AL East Division. John Farrell was a top AL Manager of the Year candidate.

 

What happened?
The Sox are really scuffling in June and are well behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the division. The offense, which led the majors in averaging nearly six runs per game in the first two months, is totaling about a run fewer per game in June. The team ERA, meanwhile, is more than a run worse than it was in April and May. Now you hear some talk that Farrell might be in some trouble if Boston doesn't turn things around by the All-Star break. True, Farrell led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013, his first season. But the team was last in the AL East the past two years. And new Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski isn't the guy who hired Farrell so he might not feel any allegiance in keeping him.

Sure, injuries have played a role, but every MLB team has injuries. The Red Sox remain without outfielder Brock Holt. He hasn't played in the majors since May 18 due to a concussion and then post-concussion symptoms. Holt could be activated Friday, though. Fellow outfielder Chris Young was recently placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring. But in all honesty, Holt and Young aren't exactly key cogs in that Boston offense. The Sox are still fine in that regard and lead the majors in runs.

The pitching staff is definitely a worry. With the exception of knuckleballer Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, Boston’s starters have struggled. The team was hoping that second-year lefty Eduardo Rodriguez would solidify that group when he made his season debut on May 31 off injury. But Rodriguez, after being so good as a rookie, was clubbed for nine runs and 11 hits in just 2.2 innings in Monday's series-opening loss at Tampa Bay and was promptly sent to Triple-A with a 1-3 record and 8.59 ERA this year.

The Rays had lost 11 straight games before Monday's 13-7 win. That effort caused Farrell to call a team meeting afterward. ” “We need to get better, and we had a chance to share that. We collectively have to get better,” Farrell told reporters is what he said to his players.

Boston has one of the best farm systems in baseball, and I guarantee that Dombrowski will trade for a starting pitcher by the end of July. The Red Sox are +600 on MLB odds to win the AL pennant.

 

Probable Pitchers
The Rays traded Price to Detroit at the deadline in July 2014. The southpaw was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 2007 draft. He was 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA in his seven years with the Rays, winning the 2012 AL Cy Young Award. Of course, the Red Sox signed Price in free agency this offseason to a deal worth around $215 million. Price has disappointed with an 8-4 record and 4.68 ERA, although he does lead the AL with 110 strikeouts. Price was destroyed in his last start, allowing six runs and 12 hits in 2.1 innings in Texas on Friday yet was able to escape with a no-decision. It was just the third time in his career he threw 60 or fewer pitches in a start. But the Sox are 4-1 on MLB picks in Price's past five starts vs. teams with a losing record like the Rays.

Price has faced Tampa Bay once this year, allowing eight runs and eight hits over 3.2 innings in a no-decision at Fenway Park on April 21. It was a career high in runs allowed for Price. Tampa's Curt Casali can't hit anyone else much in the majors but is 5-for-8 career off Price with three homers. Evan Longoria is 2-for-12 off him with a double and homer.

The Rays go with lefty Matt Moore (3-5, 5.04). He also comes off a shaky start, allowing five runs and seven hits in 6.2 innings in a loss at Baltimore. Moore actually retired the first 13 batters he faced before the wheels fell off. Moore hasn't faced the Red Sox in 2015. He was 1-2 with an 8.59 ERA against them in three starts last year. David Ortiz hits him hard, going 8-for-20 with three homers and eight RBIs. Xander Bogaerts is 4-for-7 with two doubles. Mookie Betts 4-for-6 with a homer.

I like the 'under' because of the very early start after a night game. That benefits pitchers. The 'under' is 5-1 in Price's past six overall. Boston is 5-2 in Price's past seven on the road. The Rays are 2-10 in Moore's past 12 overall. 

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2993930, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,169,999996,180,139], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Free MLB Picks: Red Sox -165 and 'under' 8 +105
Best Line Offered: Red Sox at BetOnline and 'under' at 5Dimes