MLB Picks: Top Flight Pitching Will Lead Red Sox Past Carrasco & the Indians

Swinging Johnson

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 1:32 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2016 1:32 PM UTC

The Red Sox dealt an Opening Day loss to their hosts, the Cleveland Indians, but tonight it's all shiny and new. Let's evaluate the matchup tonight and make it two in a row in our MLB picks.

Clay Buchholz Takes the Hill
Unlike last season when Clay Buchholz was deemed the ace by default, this year the nine-year veteran has no such pressure as David Price has assumed that lofty moniker. Buchholz has been enigmatic throughout his career, with more than brief flashes of brilliance countered by bouts of sheer ineffectiveness.

Former six-time All-Star and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called Buchholz one of the most talented pitchers he has ever seen but at times lacks the mental focus and toughness of the great ones. Durability, or lack thereof, has also been a constant concern during Buchholz's major league tenure. His highest three seasons in terms of innings pitched were in 2010 (173.2), 2012 (189.1) and 2014 (170.1).

In the 2015 campaign the Nederland, Texas native logged 113.1 innings of work before being shutdown in July. Buchholz ended the season early due to elbow issues but there were no signs of ligament or tendon damage. The results for last season proved to be a 7-7 record with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

Not bad for a guy who struggled with physical ailments but the question always lingers about just how bad these nagging injuries really are or is it a lack of toughness that sidelines Buchholz? When he is in a groove he is flat out nasty but gauging when that happens can be as difficult as buying your significant other a birthday present. We shall see what 2016 has in store for the lifelong member of the Red Sox and it all starts tonight when we decide whether or not to include him in our MLB picks.


Carrasco Set But Brantley Out
The Tribe's No.2 man in the rotation logged 30 starts last season and finished with a 14-12 record backed by a 3.63 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. But Carrasco's forte is getting batters to whiff and only three starters did it better last season. Carrasco's 29.6 percent strikeout rate is among the very best among starting pitchers and down the stretch Carrasco was at his best. In his last 10 games the Venezuelan native went the distance on three occasions, garnering a 2.48 ERA and holding opposition hitters to a .163 batting average.

Left fielder Michael Brantley is the straw that stirs the drink offensively for the Tribe but the decision has made to put him on the 15-day DL to start the season due to renewed stiffness in his shoulder. The seven year veteran posted a .310 batting average last season to go along with 15 homeruns and 84 RBI. Nevertheless, the Indians have a good mix of young guns and veteran talent in their lineup that should surpass their 669 plated runs in 2015 which placed them in the bottom third of the majors.


Betting Analysis
As we review the MLB odds boards in this one, we see that the home team is favored anywhere between -127 and -137 depending upon where you shop. But the key here is the fact that Buchholz is healthy and when he is on, he can be among the league’s best.

Conversely, Carlos Carrasco has had his issues pitching at home, compiling a 5-8 mark with a 5.03 ERA at Progressive Field last season. The home cookin’ just doesn’t taste any good to Carrasco and if things continue to click offensively for the Sox then it could get ugly early.

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Free MLB Pick: Boston +124
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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