If you mention the name Mookie to any Red Sox fan of an appropriate age, I guarantee you that he or she will literally flinch (if a true Sox fan). Of course I'm talking about Mookie Wilson and his role in that epic Game 6 comeback win in the 1986 World Series. Now Sox fans will have to cheer a Mookie as one of the team's top prospects: outfielder Mookie Betts (real name Markus) was called up Saturday. He hit .345 with eight home runs, 48 RBIs and 29 steals between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Is this a panic move by the Sox? Their outfield has been among the worst in the majors offensively this season and Shane Victorino, a key part of last year's championship team, recently had a setback in injury rehab. He will not be back anytime soon, if at all this season. Before the setback, the Sox expected him this weekend. Even before calling up Betts, the Sox, according to ESPN, are just the second defending World Series champions to have three or more rookie position players start 40 or more games. The last was the 1998 Marlins. Betts can also play second, but he obviously is blocked there by Dustin Pedroia. Just a month ago, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he didn't think Betts would be called up this season. It's quite a rise for Betts, who wasn't promoted to Double-A until the start of this season, and played only 22 games in Triple-A. The Sox are not hitting, so they had to do something. This could be the start of a full-blown youth movement.
Right-hander John Lackey starts for Boston, and he could be another one of those Red Sox who could be dealt. He has an interesting contract for next season as Lackey will make just $500,000. Why? The Red Sox included a brilliant clause in his five-year, $82.5 million deal signed in 2010 that Lackey would play a season for the major-league minimum if he missed a season due to a pre-existing injury the Sox saw in his physical. Lackey did miss 2012. He would be a massive steal at that amount. Lackey actually has had the audacity to threaten to retire after this year than play for that amount. Yet he didn't mind getting paid during that year off. Sometimes you just hate overpaid pro athletes.
Anyway, Lackey (8-5, 3.45) has been pretty good this season, although not last time out. The Mariners roughed him up for seven runs and seven hits in just 3.2 innings as the Sox were blown out. It was odd considering that Lackey hadn't given up more than three runs in any of his past six starts and threw a complete-game shutout against the Twins in his previous outing. His pitch count (105) was not unusually high in that one. Lackey has faced the Yanks twice this season, with very different results. On April 12 at Yankee Stadium, with the Sox at +102 on MLB odds, Lackey was roughed up for six runs and 10 hits -- four homers -- over 5.2 innings in suffering the loss. On April 23 at Fenway Park, he held the Yankees to a run and seven hits over eight innings, striking out a season-high 11, in a victory. Mark Teixeira is a career .300 hitter off Lackey with two home runs and 13 RBIs. Derek Jeter is 20-for-72 with a homer and eight RBIs but also 19 strikeouts. Brian McCann is 3-for-7 with two homers.
New York will start Chase Whitley, an injury fill-in. Whitley (3-1, 4.07) had largely been a pleasant surprise until Toronto raked him for eight runs and 11 hits over 3.1 innings in his last start. His ERA jumped from 2.56 to that 4.07 number with that start. Whitley has never faced the Red Sox. He is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two home starts. Lefties really hit him hard, to the tune of .317 and both home runs Whitley has allowed. So, I'm thinking a David Ortiz prop is in order here. Right-handers are hitting just .224 off him.
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MLB Betting Verdict
Yankees on MLB odds regardless of where line lands and the 'under' 9 runs. The fact that Boston hasn't seen Whitley previously should be to his advantage at least the first two times through the lineup. Then the bullpen can take over. The trends don't support that moneyline pick: Boston is 4-0 in Lackey's past three Game 3 starts. New York has lost four straight Sunday games. The 'under' is 4-1 in Lackey's past five against New York.