John Lackey (2-0, 1.38 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) has picked up where he left off last season and he will throw against the Yankees Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.92, 0.97).
The World Series Champs Need to be more Offensive
Eleven games into the season, the Boston bats are generating just 3.6 runs a game. Manager John Farrell no doubt misses Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat in the lineup, but that was last year and nothing is going to change the fact he signed a big contract with the hated Yankees.
Instead, what Farrell has to find is the right leadoff hitter to set the table to juice up the run production, because it appears to be having a trickle down affect on the rest of the betting order.
As every MLB baseball handicapper and hardball fan knows, David Ortiz is dialed in at a much higher level when teammates are on base and this just something he needs to see more frequently.
In the series opener, Daniel Nava was dropped from leadoff to fifth in the order, as Farrell is seeking answers.
"It's as much about trying to get Daniel going," said Farrell. "We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we've got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he'll be in that spot. We're just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now."
While not at the top of the batting order, Jackie Bradley Jr. has corrected a few of weaknesses at the plate and has been batting .308 to start the season and playing well in center.
Yankees Taking McCann’s Lead
While the focus of this series has been about Ellsbury facing his former team and Michael Pineda not wanting to wash his hands between innings to remove “dirt”, quietly catcher Brian McCann has taken charge of the pitching staff.
Sure McCann’s batting average is more than 60 points below his weight, but coming into this contest, the New York pitchershave an almost 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Pinstripes pitchers have been effusive in their praise for their new catcher, who already knows American League hitters and their tendencies and worked diligently with each Yankees pitcher on the staff to match their skills against opposing hitter’s weaknesses.
McCann is too good a hitter and will eventually find his stroke but for now, he has the pitching staff developing which is what those watching the MLB odds want to know.
Pitching Matchup for Saturday
After a couple injury-plagued campaigns, Lackey regained his velocity last season which helped his confidence immensely. With no pain in the elbow, the breaking pitches began to have more snap and it has continued into this season, making him a favorite play for those making sports picks.
Even at 39, Kuroda still delivers the goods. The Japanese right-hander throws strikes and stays out of trouble by walking only 1.4 batters per start in his six big league seasons. His pitches have a continual downward, which makes it difficult for batters to get lift and his demeanor is more stable than a judge.
Going into today’s game, Red Sox relievers had an ERA of 2.91 and a WHIP of 1.147, with 35 strikeouts and only six walks. In over 34 innings, they have yet to allow a ball to escape the yard.
The Yankees are learning about life after Mariano, with a 3.99 ERA (WHIP 1.227) and they have 34 punch-outs to go along with 13 free passes. The most distressing part has been the five home runs allowed which could eventually work against New York on the betting odds.
Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
Thus far, the series is split and Boston is 11-10 at Yankee Stadium over the past three years and no real patter to the totals either at 11-10 OVER.
The sportsbooks have made New York a -120 favorite with the total Ov.8.5.
The Winner Is…..
Boston for your MLB picks, because the Yankees should be at least a -130 favorite at home and oddsmakers are not convinced they have any sort of advantage.
MLB Free Pick: Boston on the money line