Red Sox Prepared to Cast Down Angels From Heaven

Rainman M.

Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:31 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 12:31 PM UTC

The Boston Red Sox will look to keep having the MLB's best win-loss record by trying to sweep the Angels in LA at 10:07 ET tonight. Is Boston still a hot bet?

Boston Red Sox (15-2) at Los Angeles Angels (13-4)

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Free MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox -105Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

Boston has blasted the Angels in two consecutive games. The amazing aspect of the Red Sox's success is that, according to the metric xBA-BA, which calculates the disparity between how a team is performing and how it should perform, the Sox can still improve on offense. After scoring 19 runs in two games, don't look for Boston to slow down.

Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0 3.72) ERA is enjoying a promising start to the season despite offseason surgery for his knee. Rodriguez' promising start is less evident in his success against an anemic Baltimore lineup than in his comfort on the mound. When Rodriguez is at his worst, he is not comfortable with the entirety of his pitching arsenal. When he got shelled last September against Houston, for instance, he threw his fastball 66% of the time. When he returned from injury last July, he threw his fastball 68% of the time in his first two games and got rocked in each one. In order to be successful, Rodriguez needs to utilize a more balanced and diverse pitch selection. In his first two games of this season, he has done just that, relying on his fastball less than 57% of the time. Against Baltimore, he also flashed a cutter. His cutter alone evinces his health and his ability to mix up pitches will prepare him for tonight.

The Angels' lineup makes for a poor match-up especially against a healthy Rodriguez. This year's Angels continue to be significantly weaker against left-handed pitchers--and Rodriguez is a southpaw. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging) is .828, about .100 above average, against right-handed pitchers, but only average, .723, against southpaws. Moreover, the Angels have been killing ground ball pitchers. But their OPS is .320 lower against fly ball pitchers. Rodriguez, who induces ground balls less than 40% of the time in his career, is unfortunately for LA a fly ball pitcher. The Angels' batters haven't seen much of Rodriguez. In 34 career at-bats they‘ve produced a discouraging .176 BA against him.

Los Angeles has thrived against two left-handed starters, while losing against the other two. The two whom they defeated, Matt Moore and Martin Perez, both had an ERA of over 5 against their first three opponents--including the Angels. In sum, the two lefties beaten by the Angels were in garbage form at the time--Rodriguez, though, is looking great.

Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA) counters for the Angels. Tropeano's career has been limited to 25 starts due to injury. After missing all of 2017 because of Tommy John surgery, his opening start went well--but it was against a much softer test in Kansas City, whose lineup ranks second-to-last in terms of runs per game. Tropeano faces a much harder test in Boston, whose lineup ranks first in runs per game. The Red Sox are also in strong form, producing 19 runs in their past two games. They present a tough test for an inexperienced and potentially rusty pitcher who doesn't offer much of a challenge in terms of match-up. Boston's team BA ranks first against Tropeano's two favorite pitches, the fastball and slider, in 313 at-bats. Against right-handed pitchers their OPS is .874, compared to .633 against southpaws. One hot hitter is Mookie Betts, who is batting .400 on the season.

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The Angels' bullpen has been escaping by stranding a ridiculous 87.9% of runners left on base. Boston's fresher bullpen, with an FIP (like ERA, factors out luck) of 2.95, carries an additional advantage in our MLB picks.

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