Go ‘Under’ Pirates-Red Sox Total as Chris Sale Makes Boston Debut

chris sale

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 7:51 PM GMT

It’s game No. 2 of a three-game interleague set at Fenway Park on Wednesday (7:10 p.m. ET) between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox. It should be an electric atmosphere as Chris Sale makes his Boston regular-season debut.

MLB season record: 1-1 (.500)

Pittsburgh Pirates At Boston Red Sox (-200, 8)

The Red Sox shook up MLB’s Winter Meetings early last December by trading prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz to the Chicago White Sox for Chris Sale, an annual Cy Young candidate and the early MLB betting favorite at all the sportsbooks to win the 2017 award.

Both colors of Sox could claim they won that trade. The White Sox landed Boston’s top hitting (Moncada) and pitching prospects (Kopech). Both are Top 20 guys in MLB. The Red Sox got one of baseball’s best and most affordable pitchers without giving up a young major-league star such as Jackie Bradley Jr. or Andrew Benintendi in the deal.

Sale was an All-Star for the fifth straight year in 2016 and 17-10 with 233 strikeouts in 226⅔ innings for a pretty bad Chicago team. Sale is 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA in his career. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.78 is the best since 1920 for pitchers with at least 1,000 innings. It’s easy to see him winning 20 games for the first time – if he stays healthy – with that potent Boston lineup behind him.

This is not, however, Sale’s first time pitching at Fenway as a member of a Red Sox team. Eight years ago, Sale was coming off his sophomore year at Florida Gulf Coast University and pitching summer ball in the Cape Cod League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. During that league’s All-Star Game, he pitched an inning at Fenway. He was named the game’s MVP.

Sale’s final start of spring training, scheduled for last Friday in Washington, was rained out. This will be his fourth career MLB start at Fenway, the first since last June 21 when he allowed one run over seven innings and struck out nine to beat Boston. Only a few Pirates have ever faced Sale in a regular-season game. Francisco Cervelli is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and David Freese is 1-for-3.

 

Bucs’ Taillon Touted Prospect

Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon was a much more heralded prospect than Sale as Taillon was the No. 2 overall pick by the Bucs in the 2010 draft. Washington’s Bryce Harper went No. 1 that year and Baltimore’s Manny Machado No. 3. Those are two of the 10 best players in the game and might be the two highest-paid in a couple of years when they hit free agency.

Taillon, 25, was 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 104 innings and 18 starts as a rookie in 2016. Opponents hit .252 off him. Taillon was better at home (2-2, 2.86 ERA) than on the road (3-2, 4.26 ERA. He has never faced a member of the Red Sox.

The Pirates will again have the designated hitter for this game. In the series opener Monday, the Bucs lost 5-3 and the DH was Gregory Polanco, who would usually start in left but is dealing with minor shoulder soreness. Polanco was 1-for-4 and caught stealing. Adam Frazier played left and led off. Star Andrew McCutchen had a rough opener, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

 

Final Analysis & Pick

This is only the third time the Pirates have played a series at Fenway. The others were the 1903 World Series – the first official Fall Classic; Boston’s ace pitcher then was a guy by the name of Cy Young -- and the 2005 regular season.

Pitchers are generally considered ahead of hitters this time of year, and the weather should help both staffs on Wednesday because it’s going to be cold in Boston. The forecast at first pitch is cloudy and about 40 degrees. It could get down to 34 degrees after the first few innings. Sale and Taillon also have an edge in that the opposing hitters don’t really know them. Thus the ‘under’ is the wise call here on MLB picks. It is 6-1 in Boston’s past seven vs. right-handers.

MLB Free Pick: ‘Under' 8Best Line Offered: BetDSI

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