MLB Picks: Go 'Under' In Porcello's Red Sox Debut at Phillies

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 10:26 PM GMT

Have you ever gone out and pitched a game after signing an $82.5 million contract extension? Me neither, but that's the case on Wednesday in Philadelphia for Boston's Rick Porcello. The Sox are -141 favorites at sportsbooks with a total of 8 runs.

Phillies Probably Are Majors' Worst Team
No matter which sportsbook you checked, the Phillies were expected to be the worst team in the majors this season as they had the lowest wins total. They looked the part in Monday's opening 8-0 loss to Boston. The one major trade chip the rebuilding Phillies have is ace lefty pitcher Cole Hamels. It was fitting he took the mound against the Red Sox because they have long been rumored in pursuit of Hamels. The Sox couldn't have liked what they saw in that game as Hamels gave up four solo home runs. It was the second four-homer game of his career and he now has a 4.61 ERA in 30 career interleague starts against AL teams compared to 3.13 against NL teams. Maybe Hamels should ensure he stays in the National League with his no-trade clause. Offensively, the Phillies managed just three hits on Monday, two of which were singles.

In this one, the Phillies go with veteran right-hander Aaron Harang. He was signed to a one-year, $5 million deal this winter. Harang, who will be 37 in early May, was a solid 12-12 with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts last year for  Atlanta. After the All-Star break he was only 3-6. In an ideal world, Harang gets off to a great start and the Phillies can flip him for a prospect. He did face Boston once in 2014, getting a no-decision in allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings. MLB odds makers know that new Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez feasts off Harang in his career with 10 hits in 29 at-bats with five homers and seven RBIs. Former Phillie Shane Victorino is 9-for-27 with four extra-base hits off Harang.

 

Red Sox Found Power Stroke In Opener
Boston had one of the worst offenses in the AL last season so it spent nearly $200 million this winter on free agents Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers) and Pablo Sandoval (Giants). They had very different debuts in Monday's win. Ramirez had two homers, including a broken-bat grand slam. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia also had two homers, marking the first time in Boston Red Sox history they had two players produce multi-homer games on Opening Day. Sandoval struggled in his first-ever game as an AL player, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Because this is an interleague series in an NL park the Sox had to decide with to do with DH David Ortiz. They played him at first base over usual guy Mike Napoli on Monday. Presumably that will be the case on Wednesday as well. Big Papi was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

As for Porcello, he was acquired this winter from Detroit for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Porcello was set to become a free agent after this season and he and the team agreed to table extension talks during it. However, something clearly changed as the 26-year-old Porcello agreed to a four-year, $82.5 million extension. He will make the $12.5 million he was due to in 2015 and his salary will be $20 million in 2016-17, and $21 million in '17-18. That seems like an overpay considering Porcello’s career ERA of 4.30 ranks 33rd out of the 39 pitchers who have thrown 1,000 innings since 2009. Of those 39 pitchers, Porcello’s cumulative wins above replacement of 10.6 ranks 28th. This contract beats by $12.5 million the four-year, $70 million deal the Red Sox offered Jon Lester, who like Porcello was entering his free-agent year, prior to last season. Of course Lester was eventually dealt to Oakland for Cespedes. I don't think anyone would call Porcello a better pitcher than Lester but he is five years younger.

Porcello spent the first six years of his career with the Tigers. Last season was his best as he went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA in a career-high 204.2 innings. He didn't face the Phillies in 2014. Only a few Phillies have faced him in a regular season game. Ben Revere is 7-for-19 with a triple and two RBIs off him. Chase Utley is 0-2 with a strikeout and a walk.

MLB Free Picks: There's a chance this could get rained out as the forecast for Wednesday night is temperatures around 40 and 50 percent chance of rain. Because it's an interleague game they will do their best to play it. That kind of weather should keep the offense in check. Take Boston and go 'under' the total with your MLB picks.