For the second ESPN Sunday night game of the season, those following the MLB odds are seeing a New York Yankees club that looks every bit as average or worse as last season’s crew.
Manager Joe Girardi’s team will try and avoid what would be a disastrous opening homestand without another loss, before heading off to Baltimore later tonight. As for Boston, all the off-season changes are clicking as most MLB baseball handicappers presumed and rest assured Red Sox backers will have their brooms handy as they go for the road sweep.
Boston in First Place, Expects to Stay There
The Red Sox have been on a rollercoaster ride the past four seasons. Since 2011, their win totals have fluctuated dramatically, with 90 wins, 69, 97 and 71 last year. Doing a complete rebuild is no longer part of Boston’s strategy, given the success they have enjoyed the last several years.
The Red Sox GM Ben Cherington surveyed the AL East and what he had with his team and shelled out big bucks to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, looking to improve its 11th ranked American League offense in run production. As anyone following the betting odds knows, these two players have personalities which can be destructive in a clubhouse, but Cherington and manager John Farrell were confident with leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, they could handle any situation.
After five games, the Red Sox could hardly be more pleased; having a 4-1 record and an offense averaging six runs a contest and they have yet to play a game at Fenway Park.
Boston has won 13 of their last 22 at Yankee Stadium and has every reason to feel confident about this battle tonight.
Yankees Not Hitting and Not Winning
The team in the Pinstripes is scuffling mightily at the plate to start the season. The Yankees are batting .193, including .167 with runners in scoring position. For those making MLB picks it is nearly impossible to consider New York, as five everyday players (Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Carlos Beltran and Stephen Drew) all have a batting average of .188 or lower.
Researchers have uncovered the Yankees current batting average is the lowest after five games into a new season since 1968, when that team batted .176 and also began 1-4. Granted, New York has essentially played an extra game because of Friday’s 19-inning affair, nonetheless, in their previous three official outings, they have struck out 34 times.
As absurd as this sounds, let’s take it up a notch and contemplate Alex Rodriguez has been Yankees best hitter thus far with a .278 batting average and OBP of .350. Wow! Keep that in mind when placing your MLB picks!
Pitching Matchup – Buchholz vs. Tanaka
Clay Buchholz tossed seven shutout innings against Philadelphia, permitting only three hits, one walk and striking out nine in the Red Sox 8-0 triumph. "Mechanically, I'm in a lot better spot," Buchholz told MLB’s official website. "I feel like I’m within my delivery with every pitch. ... I feel like I know my mechanics better than I did at any point last year. Yeah, it just puts me in a better spot to command and throw strikes." The BoSox righty had a 5.34 ERA last season and tonight we will get a better indication where is at after being 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in three starts against the Yankees last year.
Masahiro Tanaka had a forgettable opening day performance giving up five runs, five hits and two walks in a 6-1 loss to Toronto. He only lasted four innings (82 pitches) and left many making sports picks to wonder if he is close to 100 percent after partially tearing a ligament in his elbow in 2014. Also, less than one-third of his pitches Monday were of the fastball variety, further fueling speculation he’s protecting himself. Tanaka is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA versus Boston, but had two strong starts, conceding two runs twice in complete game loss and throwing 7 1/3 innings in the other.
Alex Rodriguez has loved facing Buchholz over the years, going 10 for 25 with two homers and seven RBI’s.
Tanaka has held Xander Bogaerts to just one hit in eight at-bats.
Catcher Mike Napoli probably is not a good pick with a 0 for 17 start to the season, but he's 3 for 6 off Tanaka with two homers.
Odds and Outcome
Sportsbooks sent Boston out as -115 favorites in MLB odds and they fell to -104 underdogs. Checking the numbers later, this contest will be very close to a Pick it appears with the total Ov7 (-130).
While the prudent choice would be to assume New York will not be swept by Boston, the Red Sox have won 17 of Buchholz’s last 24 road starts and this combination is a perfect 10-0 in away games vs. an AL team with an on-base percentage .320 or worse the last couple seasons.
MLB Free Pick – Boston wins +100 at YouWager