Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays Pick
Boston Red Sox (6-13 SU, 3-16 RL) at Tampa Bay Rays (14-5 SU, 14-4 RL)
Date: Friday, April 19, 2019
Time: 7:10 pm ET
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Listed Pitchers: Boston: Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 7.98 ERA, 1.70 WHIP) vs. Tampa Bay: Ryne Stanek (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
TV: NESN, Fox Sports Sun
The Rays are riding high, having won all six of their series this season. Meanwhile, the Red Sox appear to be in the midst of a massive World Series hangover, failing to win all but one of their first six series. Will this be the game where Boston breaks out of its slump and starts to play like the team that dominated baseball throughout last season, or will the Rays continue their rise to the top of the American League East at their rival’s expense?
Red Sox vs. Rays Set-Up
A year ago, Boston was cruising to the AL East title on its way to eventually becoming the world champions, while Tampa Bay made a hard-charging run at a playoff spot but ultimately fell just short of reaching the postseason. But while the Rays have picked up where they left off, the Red Sox have not. Boston’s 2-8 start was the stuff of nightmares, and things aren’t much better these days after three straight losses. On the Tampa Bay side of things, the Rays want to prove they’re for real. While beating the Astros sent a message, Tampa Bay has spent most of April beating up on teams who are not supposed to be around in October when the playoffs begin. Beating the Red Sox wouldn’t be much different in terms of the standings, but given what the Red Sox can be, it would be a strong statement for the Rays.
Friday’s Starting Arms
The Rays have used the so-called “opener” strategy to great effect when they’ve opted for it, and Ryne Stanek has been outstanding in the role, holding opponents to just two earned runs in eight appearances. How long he’ll go in this game is anyone’s guess, but odds are that he’ll throw an inning or two before handing the game over to the rest of the bullpen. The Red Sox, on the other hand, will use a more traditional strategy with Rodriguez, who has pitched well at home against Baltimore but struggled in starts at Oakland and Seattle. Whether that was a product of the West Coast swing or a product of facing two good teams remains unknown, but Rodriguez simply has not been a pitcher who has struck fear into the hearts of any batters this season.
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Friday’s Batting Splits
One of the reasons that Tampa Bay has been as productive as it has been to date is that the Rays are hitting the ball well. At .269, the Rays rank only behind the Dodgers and Astros in terms of batting average, and while they’ve only been average at manufacturing runs, those will come with time as long as you keep hitting. Boston is hitting just .229 this season, which underlines some of the Red Sox’s struggles this year.
To make the opener strategy work, you need a good to great bullpen behind you, and the Rays have it, holding eight of nine leads that they’ve been handed. The Boston bullpen, meanwhile, holds an ERA of 5.15 compared to 3.56 for Tampa Bay. Bottom line, if Boston gets a lead, it’s not time to panic because Tampa Bay knows it can overcome the deficit. Based on the numbers, the Rays will have a much easier time holding on to a late lead.
- The over is 6-1 when the Rays face a team that’s under a .400 winning percentage.
- The under is 4-0 in the Red Sox’s past four games and 4-1-1 following a defeat.
- The under is 4-1-1 during the Rays’ past six season openers.
- The under is 8-2 in the Rays’ past 10 home games.
Free MLB Pick
I’m not sure what’s going on with Boston. The Red Sox are a talented squad who should be doing more with what they have, but they are simply not playing well at the moment. I think they’ll eventually figure it out, but betting is about the here and now, and right now, Tampa Bay is a much better ball club than Boston is. Throw in that the Rays are playing at home and the Red Sox are riding a three-game skid, and this pick isn’t a hard one at all. I’m taking the Rays at home.