The Boston Red Sox got a big win out of their brand-new pitcher Thursday night. Will they be a strong MLB pick on Friday when Steven Wright starts against the Texas Rangers?
Jason's 2015 record as of May 27: 26-15, plus-11.01 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total
That's a mighty fine new pitcher the Boston Red Sox have got themselves. Eduardo Rodriguez made his MLB debut Thursday night against the Texas Rangers, and he was outstanding: no runs on just three hits in 7.2 innings of work. Boston's hitters did their job, too. By the time it was all over, the Red Sox were 5-1 winners, cashing in as –128 road faves. We're already on the E-Train, folks.
Can the Red Sox do it all again on Friday (8:05 p.m. ET) when Steven Wright takes the hill against Rangers ace Yovani Gallardo? The MLB odds aren't quite so optimistic this time. As we go to press, Boston is a +110 underdog, and while we don't have enough data in yet to produce a consensus report, the very early buzz is on the Rangers to win.
My Sox Do Match, They're the Same Thickness
You may remember Wright (4.98 FIP) as the knuckleballer who came in and pitched five innings of relief to get the W in Boston's 6-5, 19-inning victory over the New York Yankees (–108 at home) last month. Friday will be Wright's third start in 2015 and his fifth start in the majors; he gave up two earned runs in each of his appearances this year, and Boston split the pair to come out even. Note that Wright was supposed to get the start on Thursday, before he was bumped to make room for Rodriguez.
It's never easy evaluating knuckleball pitchers – just ask the Toronto Blue Jays about R.A. Dickey – but so far, Wright has had some difficulty making batters miss. He's only striking out 4.50 batters per nine innings, down from 9.36 Ks at AAA-Pawtucket, although we're dealing with a small sample size in both cases. Wright has also issued 3.27 free passes per nine innings. On the plus side, his .254 BABIP might be more sustainable than it would be for conventional pitchers.
Please Release Me
Gallardo (4.16 FIP) was solid as a rock for the Milwaukee Brewers ever since making his big-league debut in 2007. But along the way, his WAR kept creeping ever lower, from 4.6 in 2010 to 1.8 last year. Now Gallardo is having some issues adjusting to American League hitting, surprise surprise. The Rangers are 4-6 in his 10 starts for a deficit of 0.99 units. However, Gallardo has provided five quality starts, while his teammates have supplied just 3.10 runs of support per game.
We still have to consider that Gallardo's best days are probably behind him. His strikeout rate has steadily declined from 9.89 per nine innings in 2009 to 6.35 this season. He's been playing around with his release point and throwing more sliders instead of curveballs, and while it hasn't been a disaster, there's nothing much here to instill confidence when it comes to our MLB picks.
Here's another demerit against Gallardo: Current Sox hitters have a combined .859 OPS lifetime against him. The trick is finding someone who's both available and has more than a couple of at-bats against the former Brewer. Now that more people have picked up 1B Mike Napoli, the closest thing we've got is super-utility man Brock Holt (.825 OPS), who's 2-for-4 against Gallardo and is only owned in 20% of Yahoo leagues at press time.
Meanwhile, it's with a certain amount of trepidation that we put the Red Sox in our recommended MLB picks. Again, you never really know what you're going to get from a knuckleballer, but maybe this one's got the... Wright stuff to get the job done Friday. Thank you, don't forget to tip your server.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Red Sox +108 at Pinnacle