Game One Preview & Free MLB Pick: Blue Jays vs. Red Sox

Jason Lake

Friday, April 15, 2016 12:16 PM GMT

It's been a pretty lukewarm start to the season for both the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. The MLB odds are suitably close for Friday's series opener at Fenway.

Jason's 2016 record as of April 14: 4-3 ML (+0.81 units)

Two weeks into the 2016 regular season, and what have we learned about the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays? Not much. Each team carries a .500 record into Friday's matchup (7:10 p.m. ET), the first game of a four-game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are 4-4 for a small deficit of 0.71 units, while the Blue Jays are 5-5 and 1.08 units in the hole. Ho-hum.

Here's the thing: We've already learned a lot about Friday's contest. This will be a rematch of a game we covered last Saturday, featuring the same two starting pitchers: Rick Porcello for Boston and R.A. Dickey for Toronto. Porcello and the Sox won that game 8-4 as +108 road dogs. This time around, Boston is a –125 home fave on our MLB odds board as we go to press. Second verse, same as the first?

 

Dickey Goes Bananas!
Maybe. Toronto's bats did a number on Porcello (4.13 FIP last year), racking up four runs in six innings – including a pair of home runs from Jose Bautista. However, Boston replied with six earned runs in just five innings before Dickey was sent to the showers. Some of that was just dumb luck, though, which will happen with a knuckleballer. There were two passed balls and a wild pitch mixed in with nine strikeouts for Dickey. “Believe it or not, that may be the best knuckleball I've ever seen him have,” Jays manager John Gibbons told the Associated Press afterwards.

We always lean heavily on starting pitching when we make our MLB picks here at the home office. It's extra-important for Dickey and the Jays, because right now, their bats are asleep. Toronto had a combined .663 OPS going into Thursday's game against the New York Yankees, which they won 4-2 as –146 home faves. The Red Sox were idle Thursday; they have a .798 team OPS after eight games. We should note that the Jays got eight strong innings from Marcus Stroman against New York, so their bullpen should be relatively fresh for Friday's matchup.

 

Fantasy Corner
There's one other tricky thing about Friday's game: Christian Vazquez (.617 OPS last year) has been activated and will play catcher to Porcello. He can't hit worth beans, but he's a great defensive backstop, so perhaps this will be a lower-scoring game than last time out. That makes it more likely for either of Boston's Japanese set-up artists, Koji Uehara (2.44 FIP) or Junichi Tazawa (3.05 FIP), to have an impact – and maybe even bogart a win in the process. We'll recommend Uehara for your fantasy team along with a bet on the UNDER, and may the sphere be with you.

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Free MLB Pick: UNDER 9
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker