The Boston Red Sox bring a 19-21 record into Thursday's rubber match against the 17-23 Texas Rangers, who beat the Red Sox and the baseball odds in Wednesday's game.
Jason's 2015 record as of May 19: 21-14, plus-5.72 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total
The Boston Red Sox missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons. Okay, they won the World Series in 2013, but still. This is no longer the team that Theo Epstein (and John Henry) built. Expectations need to be revised, and they need to be revised downward. The Red Sox are 19-21 and 4.87 units in the hole, with some of the worst hitting and pitching in the majors. Get used to disappointment.
Can we interest you instead in the Texas Rangers (17-23, minus-0.96 units)? Here's a rebuilding team with some upside, and while their roster isn't performing all that much better than Boston's, you don't have to eat nearly as much chalk when you add the Rangers to your baseball picks. Consider Thursday's game at Fenway, for example: The MLB betting odds at press time have Texas priced at +157. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Eastern.
Even better, Clay Buchholz (2.90 FIP) is about to start for Boston. Don't let that nice FIP scare you: Buchholz is 4.98 units in the red this year on a team record of 2-6. Sure, he's pitched some gems – against teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and the Seattle Mariners, who couldn't hit water if they fell out of a canoe. Buchholz has also pitched some very bad games against crushing lineups like the Toronto Blue Jays.
We'd like him to do better. In theory, he'll come around; his .362 BABIP tells us as much. The Sox are also giving him just 3.75 runs of support per game, below their overall average of four runs. But that's still not a lot of runs. Boston ranks No. 26 in hitting at 1.7 WAR; narrow that down to the past 14 days, and the Sox fall to No. 29 at minus-0.5 WAR.
It gets worse. Pablo Sandoval (.758 OPS), for whom the Red Sox just paid $100 million over five years, is day-to-day after taking a pitch to the left knee on Tuesday. He missed Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers (+150 away) and isn't certain to come back on Thursday. Maybe it's just as well – Brock Holt (.821 OPS) is playing the hot corner in Sandoval's absence.
Go For Wandy
We'd give the Panda another day off if we were running the show. Southpaw Wandy Rodriguez (3.85 FIP) is scheduled to start for Texas, and Sandoval is 2-for-41 with 12 strikeouts against left-handed pitchers this year. Why is he still switch-hitting, anyway? Then again, Holt is a left-handed batter, but at least he's 5-for-16 thus far against southpaws.
Anyway, we digress. Rodriguez has had a couple of rough outings this year, but he's had more good outings than bad, and the Rangers are only 0.41 units in the red on a team record of 2-3 when W-Rod takes the mound. Texas has given him just 3.20 runs of support; again, that should eventually climb closer to the team average of 4.1 runs. The Rangers are No. 22 in hitting value at 3.4 WAR and No. 22 in OPS at .695. Not great, but better than Boston.
It's slim pickings in Fantasyland, folks. There aren't many available hitters worth cherry-picking on either team. Both bullpens have been awful, especially Boston's (No. 29 overall at minus-0.4 WAR), and the Rangers used four relievers in Wednesday's victory. Instead, we're recommending Rodriguez for a spot start. He's only owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding him. As for our MLB pick, it's entirely possible that Buchholz makes us look silly and strikes out 11 batters, but hey, too late. We already look plenty silly.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Rangers at BetOnline