Two-Pronged Approach to Red Sox-Yankees Series Finale

Rainman M.

Thursday, May 10, 2018 2:11 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 10, 2018 2:11 PM UTC

The Yanks will try to win a ninth in a row by sweeping the rival Red Sox tonight at 7:05 ET. The Red Sox are desperate underdogs. Can they avoid embarrassment? 

Boston Red Sox (25-11) at New York Yankees (26-10)Free MLB Pick: New York F5 RLBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Expect a successful start for the Yanks tonight because of their advantage in starting pitching.

Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA) is in a tough spot in which to turn his performance around. Because his start was moved up one day, he is pitching on four days of rest, in which scenario his career ERA is 5.33 compared to a 3.76 ERA with five days of rest. He has made his last two starts with four days of rest and yielded 10 runs in 10 innings.

Rodriguez is struggling even with extra rest. In three of his last four starts, he has allowed an FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) over 4.50. His main issue is command. For example, he has walked five batters in his past 10 innings. In his last three starts, Rodriguez is allowing above his career average in hard contact and inducing below the same in soft contact. Opponents are more comfortable at the plate this year because he is ineffectively varying the location of his pitches. In his last strong month, September of last season, there were two spots in the strike zone which he hit over six percent of the time. This season, there are four such spots. He is compensating for his struggle to throw strikes by hitting the same spots in the zone more frequently and this makes him more predictable and easier to hit.

Boston’s southpaw may be MLB's top starting pitcher in money units earned in 2018, but not because of his pitching performance. Dating to 2016, Rodriguez has allowed an FIP over 5.00 in two of his last three starts in Yankee Stadium. He struggled against lefties last year and dropped his vertical release points as a result. This year, righties are producing a .109 higher BA against him than lefties. Because of this split reversal, the Yanks’ individual batting stats don’t mean much against Rodriguez. Overall, current Yankee batters are hitting .304 against him in 69 career at-bats. But watch out for right-handed hitters. Aaron Judge, for example, is hitting over .330 at home and is 4-for-8 so far in the series.

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New look AL East.

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 10, 2018

CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.39 ERA) counters for New York. Since accounting for his old age, Sabathia has reinvented himself as the master of soft contact. In his last three starts, he has induced a rate of soft contact above his career above and a rate of hard contact below his career average. Sabathia killed his fastball usage and replaced it with a cutter, which, next to his slider, is one of his primary pitches. He is commanding these pitches well, allowing only 1.39 walks per nine innings, and is keeping batters off-balance. Contrary to Rodriguez, he doesn’t hit any one spot in the strike zone more than six percent of the time.

Last season, the southpaw allowed three runs in 26 innings pitched against the Red Sox. In 150 career at-bats, Boston batters are hitting .213 against him. We can expect Sabathia's success to continue. The Red Sox are struggling against southpaws. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) is under .700 against southpaws, compared to over .800 against right-handed pitchers. Sabathia throws most of his stuff under 90 mph. Against such slow pitches from southpaws, the Red Sox are 20th in slugging. Against Sabathia’s two favorite pitches, the slider and cutter, from southpaws, Boston is 25th in slugging.

The Yanks’ pitching edge will secure a first-half victory for a Thursday MLB pick. However, Sabathia averages less than six innings per start. The bullpens have been wacky, allowing multiple lead changes in this series. Boston will be desperate to avoid a sweep and make for a juicy live bet once Sabathia begins to tire.

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