MLB Picks: Lean Red Sox In Battle of No. 5 Starters vs. Yankees

Matthew Jordan

Friday, April 10, 2015 5:43 PM GMT

Game 2 of the Red Sox-Yankees series gets an early start time on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. in the Bronx. The weather looks very nice unlike for Friday night's opener. Boston opened as a very slight favorite on MLB odds with a total of 8.5 runs.

Kelly Comes Off DL For Sox
Should Friday's game get rained out, it's presumed those scheduled starters, Boston's Wade Miley and New York's Nathan Eovaldi, would then get pushed back to this one. So check my preview of that game here at SBR if it's the case. Also consider this: because this is such an early start after a night game -- especially if Friday's was delayed by expected rain -- you could see some regulars take a seat. Especially the older guys. I think Red Sox DH David Ortiz is safe because all he does is hit. But if Boston's Shane Victorino played Friday night, I bet he would take Saturday off. Monitor Yankees "old guys" like Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez.

Boston's scheduled starter for Saturday is right-hander Joe Kelly. He came over last July from St. Louis along with Allen Craig for starting pitcher John Lackey. As of early Thursday, the Sox listed Steven Wright -- not the comic -- as Saturday's starter because Kelly, the team's No. 5 guy, was on the disabled list  after suffering from right bicep tightness in the spring. Kelly threw 78 pitches in a simulated game Monday and originally Manager John Farrell said the team wanted Kelly to make one more rehab appearance (on Saturday) to get his pitch count up to around 95 in order to be ready for a regular-season game. But Kelly felt good after a bullpen session Wednesday so the change has been made. He will be on pitch count of around 80, but then most starters are this early in the season.

Kelly might be better suited for relief because he's not a hard thrower and could get eaten up pitching in the tougher American League. He was very good in 2012-13 with the Cardinals but 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts last year before the trade. With Boston in 10 starts, he was 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 41 strikeouts and 32 walks in 61.6 innings. That strikeout-to-walk ratio is concerning. Kelly faced the Yanks twice last season and was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA, allowing 14 hits in 14.0 innings and walking six. No current Yankees have faced him a ton. Brian McCann is 3-for-11 off him. Maybe Garrett Jones gets a spot start as he's 2-for-11 with two doubles and an RBI off Kelly. Chase Headley is 2-for-5 with a double and two walks. A-Rod has never faced Kelly.

 

Who Is Adam Warren?
Unless you are Yankees fan, you might not know who Saturday's starter is. That would be right-hander Adam Warren. The former reliever won the No. 5 spot this spring, beating out Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley and Bryan Mitchell (who, who and who?). Warren was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts, striking out 11 and walking just one in 16.2 innings. The No. 5 spot opened up due to a strained quad suffered by veteran left-hander Chris Capuano early in the spring. He is expected to miss all of April.

Warren, who has never started a big-league game, made 69 relief appearances last season. In 78.2 innings, he was 3-6 with three saves (23 holds), a 2.97 ERA and 76 strikeouts. Pretty solid. He pitched more against Boston than anyone, making 11 appearances over 12.1 innings and going 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA. He struck out 13 and allowed Sox hitters to bat only .103. Perhaps Daniel Nava gets the start over Victorino here as Nava is 4-for-9 with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs off Warren. Mike Napoli is 3-for-8 with a homer, and Ortiz also has gone deep off Warren. Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-12 against him.

MLB Free Picks: If this were a typical night game, I would go 'over' this total of 8.5 runs because it's two questionable pitchers. However, offenses tend to struggle in day after night games. So for your MLB picks, go 'under' the total and take Boston at an open of -110 on MLB Odds. The Red Sox are 5-1 in Kelly's past six road starts.