The Red Sox opened as -114 favorites on MLB odds with a total of 8 as they host the Washington Nationals. Could this be a possible World Series preview?
Both Clubs Get Reinforcements
Boston won Monday's home opener over the Nationals 9-4, roughing up Washington Cy Young candidate Jordan Zimmermann for eight runs and nine hits in just 2.1 innings in one of the worst starts of his career. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts was the star of the day with a three-run homer. He finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, two steals, two runs scored and robbed Bryce Harper of a home run with a leaping catch in front of the Red Sox bullpen in the top of the first inning. David Ortiz also homered, a solo shot, for his second of the season. That's 468 for his career, tying Ortiz with Chipper Jones for 32nd on the all-time list. Xander Bogaerts continued his hot start with two hits in three at-bats and is among the AL leaders with a .433 average. Catcher Sandy Leon, acquired from the Nationals late in spring training, had three hits against his former team
The Red Sox activated closer Koji Uehara off the disabled list before the game but didn't use him. He had been dealing with a strained left hamstring. Uehara, who just turned 40, was 6-5 with 26 saves and a 2.52 ERA last season.
Washington got back one of its best players Monday off the disabled list in left fielder Jayson Werth. He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the cleanup hitter. Werth had surgery on his right shoulder on Jan. 9 and had played in three rehab games with Single-A Potomac. Because this interleague series is in an American League park the Nationals need a designated hitter. It's possible Werth could play there Tuesday as he works his way back into shape. Clint Robinson was the DH on Monday.
The Nats remain without center fielder Denard Span and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Span was to play seven innings in a minor-league game Monday and then the team will decide when he will start his rehab assignment. He is expected back by the end of April. Rendon has not played in a game since March 9, when he sprained his MCL in his left knee on a diving play against the Braves. He could beat Span back by a bit.
Could we see a rematch of these teams in October? Both are favored to win their respective East Divisions and a Nats-Red Sox exact World Series matchup is priced at +2500 in MLB Futures Odds from sportsbooks.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg starts for Washington. He didn't look all that sharp in his season debut, allowing six runs (three earned) and nine hits over 5.1 innings in a loss to the Mets. He struck out five and walked three over his 95 pitches. Strasburg rarely has consecutive below-par starts. Last season on the road, he was 5-8 with a 3.82 ERA compared to 9-3 with a 2.56 ERA at home. He didn't face the Red Sox in 2014. New Red Sox left fielder Hanley Ramirez has had decent success in his career off Strasburg with five hits, including a homer and two doubles in 16 at-bats, Pablo Sandoval is 3-for-12 vs. Strasburg but has struck out five times. Big Papi is 0-for-1 with two walks against him.
Keep in mind when placing your MLB picks that Justin Masterson gets the call for Boston. He pitched well in his season debut, allowing just three hits and two earned runs over six innings at the Phillies, striking out seven and walking two. Certainly a positive sign after Masterson struggled last season with the Indians and Cardinals. Masterson's first two big-league seasons were with the Red Sox. Lifetime at Fenway, Masterson is 10-5 with a 4.44 ERA. He didn't face Washington in 2014. Not many Nationals have seen a lot of him in the regular season. Werth is 0-for-6 with an RBI and four strikeouts against Masterson. Yunel Escobar is 3-for-14 with six strikeouts.
MLB Free Picks: Take Washington and 'under' the total from BetOnline. The Nats are 4-0 in Strasburg's past four on the road and the 'under' has hit in all four.