Red Sox vs. Yankees Odds
|Red Sox Odds||+115|
|Time||Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings|
The Red Sox remain perfect against the Yankees this season after picking up their seventh straight win with a 4-0 victory on Friday night. The Yankees face quite a challenge to turn things around as they’re extremely short-handed at the moment with multiple position players sidelined — whether due to injuries or COVID-19 protocols.
Things won’t get any easier on Saturday night when they face Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. Two of Eovaldi’s nine wins this season have come against New York, and he only allowed two runs in 13 2/3 innings of work. He’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole, who is the current favorite to win the American League Cy Young award.
For New York to have a chance to win, Cole will likely need a similar outing like his last start when he pitched a complete-game, 1-0 shutout against the Houston Astros. That certainly won’t be easy against a Red Sox team with good enough numbers to pose a credible threat against the Yankees’ ace.
Eovaldi Gets His Revenge
Nathan Eovaldi seems to have a longstanding score to settle with New York. Eovaldi was a member of the Yankees from 2015-16 but was unceremoniously released while he was still recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Tampa Bay Rays ended up signing Eovaldi but later traded him to Boston.
It was with the Red Sox that Eovaldi had his most memorable experience on the mound. In the 2018 divisional playoffs, he got his chance to exact some revenge on the Yankees and delivered a one-run, seven-inning performance in a 16-1 Red Sox rout.
I don’t think Eovaldi ever forgot about what happened in New York. Yankee fans may not admit it, but there’s a genuine fear they have when his turn comes up against them in the rotation. That postseason performance was so indelible in their minds you’d think he’s never lost against the Yankees.
In fact, before his two starts this season, Eovaldi was 1-2 in six starts and nine career appearances against New York. But now, he’s 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA. It’s certainly one thing to let a pitcher go. It’s another thing to see him end up with your sworn enemy.
More Than Just A Thrower
Eovaldi was just 26 during his final year with the Yankees, and it was already his sixth season in the majors. He always had a live arm, and his velocity is still sharp even after the surgery. The right-hander averages 97.4 mph on his four-seam fastball, but he’s much more of a pitcher than a thrower.
This season would be the first time in his career that he’s had a BB/9 ratio (1.74) under two in back-to-back seasons. That’s particularly impressive given that Eovaldi throws five different pitches: a four-seamer (43.8%), a curveball (17.2%), a cutter (14.6%), a slider (13.2%), and a splitter (11.2%). He throws all five pitches at least 10% of the time, so you can expect him to have the advantage of surprising hitters more times than not.
According to the Fangraphs Pitch Info Values, Eovaldi’s cutter is 6.1 runs above average, while his curveball is 4.1 runs above average. Expect the Yankees to see a heavy dose of those pitches on Saturday as they’re 8.7 runs below average against the cutter and 7.8 runs below average when facing a curveball.
Overall, he’s 9-5 on the season with a 3.66 ERA, but his upside looks even more promising when considering his 2.61 FIP.
Injuries Continue To Decimate The Yankees
To fully assess the Yankees’ chances in this matchup, you first have to begin with the injury report. There, you’ll find prominent position players like Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. Judge by far has been their best hitter as he’s actually the team’s triple crown leader in average (.282), home runs (21) and RBI (47).
There’s no question some of that right-handed power was missing in Friday’s game, with New York only able to muster three hits. The reality is that given the circumstance, the Yankees don’t have enough hitting to keep pace with the Red Sox. In fact, they’d probably still be short even if all their players were available.
Cole Can Offer Yankees A Lifeline
That’s why this game will have to fall on Cole’s shoulders. The Yankees are paying him $324 million to be the ace of their rotation, and they need him in the worst way at the moment. I already mentioned that according to the bookmakers, Cole is in pole position to win the Cy Young. Thus I don’t see much value in regaling you with his pitching prowess. Rather, what I find more relevant are his head-to-head numbers against the current Red Sox lineup.
In 86 at-bats, Boston’s hitters have a .256 average against him with a .523 slugging percentage, a .349 wOBA, and a .267 ISO. When Cole last faced the Red Sox, he was walloped and gave up eight hits on six runs (five earned) in just five innings of work. He also allowed three home runs in the outing.
Despite that poor outing, Cole still has decent numbers against Boston. He’s 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in seven starts. His teams have actually never lost to the Red Sox at home, and that goes back to his days with the abhorrent Pittsburgh Pirates.
While I expect him to pitch better this time around, I only wonder if the Yankees can scrape up enough offense to pick up the win.
Red Sox-Yankees Pick
This is a fascinating matchup given the implications for the Yankees, who are winless in seven tries against the Red Sox. New York also trails Boston by nine games in the division, and it’s 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. If they’re going to win a game in this series, it has to be this one with their ace on the mound.
I think just blindly backing the Red Sox here is too straightforward of a play. Cole recently shut down arguably the best lineup in baseball when he faced the Astros his last time out. I did some digging and found that his teams are a perfect 2-0 following an outing in which he pitched at least nine innings. He should also be well-rested for this start, given the All-Star break.
One way to take a contrarian approach to this game might be to consider playing it under the total. When I started writing, the total was trading at 8.5, but now it’s down to 8. That makes sense given the Yankees depleted lineup and if we expect Cole to deliver another quality performance on the mound. But if you’re going to play the under, that half-run could be vital if the Red Sox decides to get frisky.
You’ll have to swallow some juice at -120, but that’s not nearly enough to put me off the game.
Pick: Under 8.5 (-120)