Fierce rivals are set to begin a crucial three-game series on Friday night when the New York Yankees visit the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. New York currently holds the second AL Wild Card at 86-67 after completing the sweep over the Texas Rangers with a 7-3 win on Wednesday to cash in as a -268 favorite. Boston is also coming off a sweep, as it handled the New York Mets in two games including a 12-5 win on Wednesday as a -178 favorite to take over the top Wild Card spot at 88-65.
This is the final series of the year between the storied rivals, with Boston leading 10-6 so far.
Yankees take care of business against the RangersBeating sub-.500 teams has been anything but easy for the Yankees most of this season, but they managed to sweep Texas over three games and are now back in playoff position with other contenders stumbling this week. After falling behind 3-0 in Wednesday's series finale, the Yankees clawed back on a two-run double from Kyle Higashioka in the fifth before tying the game on a wild pitch one inning later and getting a big eighth inning thanks to an RBI double from Gleyber Torres and two-run homer by Gary Sanchez.
Gleyber in the clutch. pic.twitter.com/79wK8SxIIY— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 23, 2021
Starter Corey Kluber went just 4.1 innings as he continues to struggle, allowing three runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out four. Chad Green picked up the win in relief for a perfect eighth, as the Yankees bullpen didn't allow a run. Higashioka went 2-3 with the two RBI, while Urshela also had a multi-hit game.
“We’re in control of things. There’s some comfort in that,” manager Aaron Boone said to MLB.com heading into the huge series against Boston. “It’s on us. It’s right in front of us.”
It has not been a good gambling season for the Yankees, who are 71-82 against the spread and down a moderate amount on the money line after entering the year with World Series expectations. Overs are just 63-85-5 for the Yankees, including 4-6 over their last 10 games.
New York's offense has been underwhelming throughout the season with an average of 4.36 runs per game and an o.731 team OPS. The pitching staff has picked up the slack, as it has a 3.76 ERA to rank third in the AL, backed by an elite 3.18 K/BB ratio.
Ace Gerrit Cole will get the ball to open the series looking to bounce back from a rough outing last Sunday against the Cleveland Indians, as he allowed seven runs on 10 hits and one walk in 5.2 innings while striking out seven in the loss. The 31-year-old has generally been one of the best pitchers in baseball, going 15-8 with a 3.03 ERA and 231 strikeouts in 169.1 innings. Aaron Judge has been one of the few consistent hitters for New York with a 0.908 OPS, 36 homers and 89 RBI.
New York's outfield depth has been hit hard, with Aaron Hicks (wrist surgery), Clint Frazier (vertigo), Tim Locastro (torn ACL) and Miguel Andujar (strained wrist) all on the IL. Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon just started a rehab assignment and should be back soon. Top reliever Jonathan Loaisiga (strained shoulder) is set to throw a bullpen session on Friday, while Zack Britton (elbow surgery) and Darren O'Day (hamstring surgery) alos out.
Boston's win streak at seven after blowout win over MetsWith players coming back from injury and COVID to join the roster recently, Boston has reeled off seven straight wins to take control in the AL Wild Card race, and just outscored the Mets 18-8 over two games. Kyle Schwarber got things going on Wednesday with a solo shot in the bottom of the first before going deep again an inning later, and the game really got out of control in the third on a two-run triple from Jose Iglesias as the Red Sox had a 10-1 lead through just four innings.
Starter Chris Sale improved to 5-0 with five solid innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while racking up eight strikeouts. Schwarber had a huge game to pace the offense, going 3-4 with a walk, four RBI and four runs scored.
"Tonight was obviously his show, and he carried the weight. You couldn't ask for any more from someone you acquire at the Trade Deadline, doing exactly what we expected him to do. He knows what he can do. We all know what he can do. He's been around a while now. That was a big piece for us,” Sale said to MLB.com about his new teammate Schwarber.
Boston isn't quite as effective against the spread at 79-72, yet is up a good amount on the money line after finishing in last place a season ago. Overs are 69-76-6 for the Red Sox, with just one of their last eight games going under the betting total.
This has been a strong offense throughout the year, with Boston averaging 5.18 runs per game while posting a 0.780 OPS to rank inside the top three in baseball. Boston pitching is right around average with a 4.27 ERA on the season, including a mark of 4.52 from a rotation that has struggled at times.
Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball on Friday hoping to continue his strong season, as he's 10-8 with a 3.58 ERA in 30 starts. The 31-year-old went five innings last Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight in a no-decision. Xander Bogaerts is having a monster season to lead the Red Sox offense with a .304/.374/.515 line, 23 homers and 79 RBI.
The Red Sox got some bad news earlier this week, as standout reliever Garrett Whitlock hit the IL with a strained pectoral. Bench players Yairo Munoz and Danny Santana remain in COVID protocol, along with reliever Phillips Valdez.
New York is:
- 5-12 in its last 17 games against a right-handed starter.
- 2-7 in its last nine games against the AL East.
Trends via Covers.com. Boston is:
- 7-0 in its last seven games overall.
- 36-16 in its last 52 home games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Yankees have gotten back on track enough to take over the second AL Wild Card spot, they have had far too many tough games against last-place teams and now catch the hot Red Sox at the wrong time. Eovaldi is perfectly capable of outdueling Cole, and the Red Sox have good value at these odds as they have been the better team for much of the season.
Since the sticky stuff banned on June 4, Cole has been good but not Cy Young worthy with a 3.92 ERA/ 3.47 FIP while alternating outstanding performances with ugly ones. This Red Sox lineup will make Cole pay if he's not at his best, with Boston ranking tied for third in wRC+ this season and only improving thanks to the pop Schwarber has provided since the trade deadline.
Eovaldi hasn't gotten enough credit for an excellent season, and predictive metrics like a 2.72 FIP indicate his strong ERA should be even lower. The Red Sox have played better than New York in September, and Eovaldi will handle the middling New York lineup enough to grab a win in the opener.
Full-Game Total Pick
These are two of the nastier pitches in the league when at their best, and the bullpens are strong enough at the back end to ensure a low scoring game here. Cole continues to post fantastic metrics with a 28.6 K-BB% and a few gems in the second half even while falling off some, while the fact that Eovaldi only walks 4.4% of opposing batters despite throwing 100 miles per hour makes him tough to hit.
New York's offense has been struck around average numbers all season long with a 100 wRC+ while being held back by being the worst baserunning unit in baseball by far. This has high potential for a pitcher's duel between two starters who don't allow a lot of trafic on the bases.