The best rivalry in baseball, if you buy the hype from ESPN and the MLB Network, has its first installment of the 2015 season on Friday night as the Red Sox visit the Yankees. New York opened as a -114 favorite at sportsbooks with a total of 7.5.
From 2008-10, these teams split their season series 9-9. However, the last four years have been one-sided for the winner. In 2011, the Yankees were AL East champions but won only six of 18 games against a Red Sox team that finished 90-72. The next year, the Red Sox dropped to the AL East basement under first-year manager Bobby Valentine and won only five of 18 games against the Yankees. Of course in 2013 under first-year manager John Farrell, the Sox won the AL East and the World Series and they dominated the Yankees in winning 13 of 19 matchups. As MLB odds makers know, the Sox sunk back to last in 2014 and New York won 12 of 19 in the series.
Derek Jeter wasn't very good offensively in 2014, his final season, but he was against Boston, hitting .344 with a homer and 13 RBIs against the Red Sox. Carlos Beltran hit .344 as well and had five homers and 11 RBIs against the Sox, and Yankees catcher Brian McCann hit .333 with five home runs and 11 knocked in. Former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury hit only .234 against his former team but did knock in nine.
Among Red Sox regulars, second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit 314 with a homer and eight RBIs in 12 games against Yankee pitching. Mike Napoli hit .294 with four homers and eight RBIs. David Ortiz batted only .218 in 16 games but did have five home runs and 13 RBIs. This will be the first time Boston will have its full lineup because the Sox opened the season in interleague play at Philadelphia so there was no designated hitter available. Thus either Ortiz or Napoli had to sit out of the starting lineup in each game.
Starting Pitching Matchup – Miley vs. Eovaldi
Both starters will be experiencing a Red Sox-Yankees rivalry for the first time as they were each acquired via trade this offseason.
For Boston it's left-hander Wade Miley. He was acquired from Arizona in December for young pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and a minor-leaguer. Both De La Rosa and Webster were considered very promising at one point. De La Rosa won his Arizona debut despite being hit hard by the Giants. Webster didn't make the big club out of camp. Instead of seeing perhaps how Miley might adjust to the American League, the Sox signed him to a three-year extension worth $19.25 million in early February to avoid arbitration. So now Boston has he and Rick Porcello, another trade acquisition, locked up long term. Miley was excellent for Arizona in 2012-13, winning a combined 26 games with an ERA around 3.40. However, he struggled last year, going 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. To be fair, Arizona was terrible in 2014 and the bullpen blew its share of leads. Miley did not face the Yankees last year. Only a handful of current Yankees have seen him. Third baseman Chase Headley, formerly of San Diego, has the most, going 3-for-17 with two RBIs. Beltran is 1-for-7 with three RBIs off Miley, and McCann is 2-for-3 with an RBI.
For the Yankees, it's right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. He was acquired in December from Miami for projected Yankees starting second baseman Martin Prado and relief pitcher David Phelps. The Yanks also got first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones and a pitching prospect while sending $6 million in cash to Miami. Eovaldi is just 25 and has good stuff. He did struggle last year, going 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA in a career-best 199.2 innings. He led the National League in hits allowed with 223 and ranked just 70th out of 88 qualified starters in strikeout rate despite an average fastball velocity of 95.7 mph that is one of the best in the majors. Opponents hit .230 against him with two strikes, which was among the worst for a qualified starter in the majors. Eovaldi didn't face Boston in 2014. Very few Red Sox have seen him. Pablo Sandoval is a stellar 8-for-11 with a homer and nine RBIs off Eovaldi. Hanley Ramirez is 2-for-5 with a homer, double and three knocked in.
MLB Free Picks: Both pitchers figure to be nervous in their first starts with a new club and facing mostly unfamiliar lineups. That might favor the hitters, but it's supposed to be chilly and rainy on Friday so that would work against batters (it could get rained out). Take the Yankees -101 and the 'under' with your MLB picks at BetOnline.