Rangers at Red Sox MLB Pick July 11
You could say that the Boston Red Sox are in good form these days. After a relatively easy 8-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, the Red Sox have now won 8 consecutive games to extend their lead in the American League East. Despite the streak, the New York Yankees are just 3.5 games back. Still, Boston is in control at the moment. On Wednesday, they’ll look to run their winning streak to 9 games with a 3-game sweep of the Rangers.
Texas, meanwhile, has the look of a team that could make some changes ahead of the upcoming trade deadline. The Rangers have lost 4 of their last 5 games to drop to 40-53 on the year. While that isn’t one of the very worst records in the major leagues, it’s still good for last place in the loaded AL West. In fact, the Rangers are currently the only team in the division with a record below the .500 mark. Already 21.5 games back of the first place Houston Astros, Texas may as well break things up and try again next year.
To make matters worse for the Rangers, they’ll have to take their swings against what may be the best pitcher in baseball in the series finale at Fenway Park. Chis Sale will toe the rubber for the Red Sox against 45-year-old veteran Bartolo Colon.
If Colon were 20 years younger, this would be a matchup between a couple of fireballers. Colon was once a pitcher that regularly topped 100 with his fastball, but those days are long gone at this point. These days, Colon generally lives in the mid-to-upper 80s with his heater, which he still throws often. According to Fangraphs, Colon has thrown his fastball more than 79 percent of the time this season. The change-up is featured about 11 percent of the time. Generally, hitters know what’s coming from him.
The right-hander has posted a 4.48 SIERA this season, which is actually not bad, especially when you consider his age. While he will limit damage on occasion, there are other underlying numbers with Colon that cause concern. The veteran has allowed a hard contact rate over 43 percent this season, which is one of the highest marks in the league among starting pitchers.
Because he’s generally throwing low-velocity heaters, Colon doesn’t miss many bats anymore. Colon still doesn’t walk anybody (3.6 percent walks in 2018), but his strikeout rate is hovering around 14 percent, which is well below-average, especially nowadays when strikeouts across the league are up.
Big Bart still generates more ground balls than fly balls, but the fly balls he concedes often fly out of the park altogether. Colon has already allowed 22 home runs this season after allowing 28 all of last year. Only Jakob Junis of the Royals has allowed more dingers fo far in 2018.
Tonight, Colon will pitch at Fenway, which is arguably the second-best hitting park in the league behind Coors Field in Denver. He will also be going up against a Red Sox offense you could say is the best in all of baseball. On the year, Boston ranks first in the majors in wOBA against right-handed pitching (.352) and wRC+ against right-handed pitching (121). The Red Sox have also belted 105 homers against righties, which, again, leads baseball.
The Ranger hitters will face a much more difficult task in trying to put bat-to-ball against Chris Sale. Sale continues to put up dominant numbers despite pitching in tough context in the AL East. In spite of it all, the lanky lefty has a stellar 2.43 SIERA and a strikeout rate nearing 37 percent on the year. Sale won’t ever issue many walks, and his soft contact rate is actually higher than his hard contact rate on the season. That is no small feat.
Sale will allow home runs, but he’s not exactly Bartolo Colon in that regard. The southpaw is dominant against hitters of either handedness, but he’s particularly effective against his fellow left-handers. Sale has allowed a tiny .201 wOBA with no homers to lefties so far this season. The .251 wOBA allowed to righties isn’t much worse, but he has conceded all 10 of his home runs to right-handed hitters.
Sale will be going up against a Rangers lineup in which most of the most dangerous hitters are lefties. You could make the argument that the 4 best hitters in the Texas lineup swing it from the left side: Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara. Even Ronald Guzman, another power hitter, is a lefty.
The righties are considerably worse. Adrian Beltre has struggled with his health this season, while Elvis Andrus has yet to rediscover his 2017 form. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields Jr. are the other righties in the lineup. There is not a fearsome hitter among this group.
I would think this lopsided pitching matchup will lead to a lopsided result in the game. Sale is probably the best pitcher in baseball. Colon, while he’s still one of the most fun stories in baseball, is far from that. It’s hardly a bold call, but the Red Sox -1 1/2 on the runline looks like a pretty safe bet in this spot. So, take Boston on the runline.
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