The Boston Red Sox impressively took 3 of 4 games from the New York Yankees last weekend. Boston started to look like the team that won last year’s World Series in the process, and made thought that would serve as a springboard for Boston moving forward. However, they have come out and dropped each of their first 2 games against the Tampa Bay Rays at home this week, and they’ll enter Thursday’s game riding a 3-game losing streak all of a sudden.
The Sox will look to salvage a game against their divisional rivals on Thursday night when Andrew Cashner takes the mound. The Rays will counter with top prospect Brendan McKay, who will be making the fifth big league start of his career. Boston is a -130 favorite on the moneyline tonight in game with an implied total of 10 ½ runs.
2019 ATR Home
2019 ATR Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
The Rays usually aren’t buyers at the trade deadline, but they were this year. Tampa Bay acquired utilityman Eric Sogard from Toronto over the weekend. While they failed to land a big-name starter like Zack Wheeler ahead of the deadline, Tampa Bay did get a big right-handed bat in Jesus Aguilar from Milwaukee.
McKay has been up-and-down through his first 4 big league appearances.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA, though he was knocked around in his most recent outing against the lowly White Sox. Chicago touched McKay up to the tune of 5 earned runs on 6 hits in just 3.1 innings of work. It was easily the roughest outing of his brief career to this point, as he hasn’t allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his other appearances.
He’s in a tough spot tonight, though, as Fenway Park is one of the more hitter-friendly venues in all of baseball. The Red Sox’ lineup is also loaded with quality right-handed bats. Both home runs he’s surrendered to this point have been hit by RHBs. Navigating the likes of J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts won’t be easy, but it is worth noting that the rookie has held hitters of either handedness to a wOBA of .287 or below to this point.
Adding Aguilar to the lineup should bring some much-needed balance, as well. Most of the Rays’ more potent bats (Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi) swing the bat from the left side of the plate, and the power beyond Tommy Pham has been lacking from the right side. Aguilar has really struggled this season, but he’s still the same guy that slugged 35 homers last year as a member of the Brewers. The Rays are optimistic that the change of scenery can help bring out the best in the former All-Star.
Red Sox Faltering
The Red Sox have been unable to get out of their own way this season. Every time it looks as though they may have turned a corner, they wind up riding a lengthy losing streak. Boston is still 9 games over .500 on the year, and the 636 runs they’ve scored leads all of baseball. For whatever reason, though, they can’t ever seem to sustain any positive momentum.
Cashner has pitched pretty well this season, but most will tell you that he’s been primed for regression all year long. He’s been a below-average pitcher for the last several seasons, and his underlying numbers seem to indicate regression could be on the way. The right-hander is 1-2 through 3 starts with Boston, and this will be his fourth consecutive outing against a different AL East rival.
Cashner has a low 17 percent strikeout rate on the season, and he’s only allowed 15 home runs.
His 4.18 ERA looks pretty lucky compared to his 4.85 xFIP, though, and he has already given up 4 long balls in a Red Sox uniform. Boston needs him to eat some innings, which he has done, but it’s fair to expect him to endure some struggles down the stretch.
Cashner has managed to hold left-handed hitters to a low .257 wOBA on the season, but he has historically scuffled far more against LHBs than RHBs. Righties have accounted for 13 of the 15 homers he’s served up, but his 4.72 xFIP vs. left-handed hitters makes it look as though it’s only a matter of time before lefties start to see some positive regression at his expense.
I like the Rays here. Going into Fenway and earning a sweep is a rare accomplishment for a road team, but I just think McKay is the better pitcher than Cashner at this point in their respective careers. This is a daunting matchup for McKay, but the Rays also have a strong bullpen behind him. I think Tampa Bay makes for an interesting enough value here at +130 on the moneyline to be worth a shot.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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