MLB Odds: Back Red Sox 'Under' In Series Opener Against Rays

Matthew Jordan

Monday, April 18, 2016 7:54 PM GMT

Monday, Apr. 18, 2016 7:54 PM GMT

Rays have had a friendly early-season schedule with 10 of their first 13 games at home. On Tuesday, Rays open a six-game road trip. Red Sox are -124 on JustBet MLB odds with a total of 8.5.

What You Need To Know
Tampa Bay (5-7) won its first series of the season over the weekend in taking the final two games of a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox. The Rays have some very good pitching but their offense is a huge question mark. They have scored more than three runs just twice. Tampa ranks near the bottom of MLB in runs (34), batting average (.212), on-base percentage (.268), slugging (.347) and OPS (.614).

The team doesn't have a regular batting better than Steven Souza's .294 mark. He also leads the club with only six RBIs. Big offseason addition Corey Dickerson is hitting just .222. Logan Forsythe is at .220. Kevin Kiermaier is hitting all of .172, shortstop Brad Miller .114 and Logan Morrison a ghastly .063 with 14 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Tampa ranks seventh in the majors with a 3.23 ERA.

The Rays might have to trade one of their good young starting pitchers for a bat to stay in contention in the AL East. Dickerson was acquired from Colorado for very good reliever Jake McGee this past offseason.

The Rays are 2-8-2 'over/under on MLB odds boards this season.

Boston (6-6) took the first two games of a four-game weekend series with Toronto but dropped the final two, including 4-3 on Monday in the annual 11 a.m. Patriots' Day start. The Red Sox bullpen blew a great outing from starting pitcher Clay Buchholz.

The Red Sox opted not to start DH David Ortiz just for rest, although he did pinch-hit. Ortiz was called out on strikes hitter for the final out of the game with the tying run on base. Big Papi is off to a nice start in his final season, batting .306 with a team-leading three homers and 10 RBIs. Travis Shaw, who won the third base job over high-priced flop Pablo Sandoval this spring, leads the club in hitting at .342.

Sandoval is now on the DL with a shoulder injury and essentially dead to the Red Sox at this point. The Sox are the anti-Rays in that Boston's offense is very good but the pitching staff has been shaky.

The Red Sox are 6-6 O/U on MLB picks this season.

Tampa Bay won the 2015 season series 10-9 and was 6-4 at Fenway Park.

Probable Pitchers
It's lefty Drew Smyly for Tampa, and he was originally acquired in the July 2014 trade with Detroit for David Price; of course Price is now a member of the Red Sox. Smyly (0-2, 4.61) has gotten little run support thus far with the Rays totaling four runs in his two outings. Last time out he allowed two earned runs and three hits over seven innings against Cleveland, striking out 11 and walking one but was a hard-luck loser.

This will be Smyly's first road start of the season. Last year, he was 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in seven road starts. He pitched at Fenway on Sept. 23, 2015, and shut out the Red Sox on five hits over 6.1 innings, striking out seven. Ortiz is 5-for-11 career off him with a homer and two RBIs. Mookie Betts is 5-for-12 with a homer. Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-13 off him with four strikeouts.

Boston counters with hard-throwing but inconsistent right-hander Joe Kelly (1-0, 10.13). Kelly was shelled for seven runs and seven hits in three innings in his season debut at Toronto. He was better last time out against Baltimore, allowing two runs and seven hits in five innings. Control has been a problem as Kelly has eight walks. Last year, Kelly was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay.

The Rays hammered him for 17 hits in 10 innings. Souza is 3-for-5 off him with a double and homer. Morrison is 2-for-11 with a homer and three RBIs. Evan Longoria is 2-for-5 with an RBI. Longoria hit .360 against Boston with four home runs and 10 doubles in 2015 overall.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2993734, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,92,238,169,349], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
Free MLB Pick:This is just the second left-hander the Sox have faced and they are 0-1. But I like Boston here, assuming the good Kelly shows up. Go 'under' the total as Smyly also is capable of keeping the Sox largely in check. Can't really go 'over' many Rays games until they start hitting. 
Best Line Offered: at William Hill

comment here