The Red Sox are trying desperately to avoid another last place finish in the AL East while the Yankees are poised to return to the postseason. But which team should we include in our MLB picks in the first of this four-game set?
Boston Red Sox (75-80, -6.65 units)
Boston swept their fellow cellar dwellers, the Baltimore Orioles, by shutting them out in all three games and taking a 2-0 decision last night as young Henry Owens held the O's to three hits in 7 2/3rd's of an inning of work. Top prospect and catcher Blake Swihart blasted his third homerun of the season which speaks to the only silver lining in this moribund season...the kids are alright. Between Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens, Swihart and tonight's starter Eduardo Rodriguez the future looks bright.
Unfortunately the previous general manager's eye for free agent talent was as bad as his farm system is good. Hanley Ramirez is a big contract without a position while Pablo Sandoval posted career-worst marks in virtually every major statistical category. Thirty-six million dollars tied up in two players who played a big part in the downward spiral that was the Red Sox season. However, neither will be in uniform for tonight's game and that can only be considered a boon to Boston's chances.
Eduardo Rodriguez (9-6, 3.97 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) has been a pleasant surprise for Boston and the team's record is 4-2 in his last six starts with Rodriguez allowing just nine earned runs in those games. Rodriguez is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 11 strikeouts in his three starts against the Yankees this season. The last time he faced the Bombers was on August 31st in friendly Fenway where the MLB odds makers installed him as a -130 favorite and he did not disappoint as the Sox edged New York 4-3.
New York Yankees (86-69, +3.8 units)
The Yankees took three of four from the White Sox, including last night's 6-1 win, and now welcome their ancient rivals the Boston Red Sox to the Bronx. The Pinstripers are 9-5 over their last 14 games and 10-5 this season in all games against Boston. However they are only 3-3 at home when they host the Red Sox and lost the last time they faced Eduardo Rodriguez.
New York will trot out twenty-eight year-old Ivan Nova who pitched well in his last start in Toronto after getting shelled for seven hits on six earned runs in just over one inning of work by the very same Blue Jays a week earlier in New York. Nova allowed only four hits and one run in five plus innings of work in his last start. When last he faced Boston on August 31st he pitched well enough to win, surrendering three runs on three hits over six innings, but his team came up on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision.
Sportsbooks have already dropped from the opening line of Yankees as a -160 favorite to where it is now at -145. There is a reason why the Yankees are dropping and it is the same reason why I will include this live underdog in my MLB picks for Monday night. The Red Sox are playing without any pressure as their season has been over for a while. But the deadwood has been banished for the season and the bright young prospects are getting regular playing time and showcasing themselves for next season. The results have been excellent and if the Sox had received this kind of a defensive effort and the stellar pitching of late we could be looking at Boston entering the postseason parade.
Eduardo Rodriguez outdueled Ivan Nova less than a month ago and I can't see a reason why I wouldn't back the Sox, particularly at this price, in this game one showdown. They are coming off a sweep of the Orioles and are looking to play the role of the spoiler. Let's grab all that juice and watch the future of the Boston Red Sox, which most definitely includes Eduardo Rodriguez, reward us for our faith in them.
Free MLB Pick: Play the Red Sox +145 at Bet365