With the Red Sox down 3-0 and Rich Hill on the mound, Boston was in danger of falling to 1-4 on the season. It’s early, but a five-game start like that isn’t ideal.
However, Boston strung together some hits in the final four frames and put up five unanswered runs. Meanwhile, Garrett Whitlock came in for four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and one walk in the process.
So, the Tigers will look to bounce back with a familiar face on the mound. Eduardo Rodriguez will make the start against his old club, looking to avenge a tough 2021 season. His advanced statistics call for a lot of positive regression.
Let’s dig into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my predictions for Tuesday night’s American League matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.
Boston Red Sox Vs. Detroit Tigers Betting Odds
It was less than a year ago that seeing the Tigers and the Red Sox at -110 would’ve been shell-shocking. Especially with Boston’s ace on the mound.
But the Tigers improved drastically over the offseason and early season play has reflected that.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have looked poor in the first week, specifically on the offensive end.
Add it all together, and you’ve got a projected 50/50 game.
Does that fairly evaluate both teams? Because it sure seems like Eovaldi should be priced higher against Rodriguez after pitching together in Boston.
Boston Red Sox Starting Lineup
CF Kiké Hernandez R
3B Rafael Devers L
SS Xander Bogaerts R
DH J.D. Martinez R
1B Bobby Dalbec R
LF Alex Verdugo L
2B Jonathan Arauz L
RF Christian Arroyo R
C Christian Vazquez R
Boston Red Sox Vs. Eduardo Rodriguez
But E-Rod was a much-better pitcher last season than his peripherals indicate. He paired his 4.74 ERA with a 3.32 FIP, which means he was one of the unluckiest pitchers in MLB in 2021. His .363 BABIP had something to do with that.
Rodriguez improved his strikeout rate and walk rate significantly in 2021. His 10.56 K/9 was a career-high and his 2.68 BB/9 was a career-low, and a 1.06 HR/9 rate wasn’t bad either.
Rodriguez just couldn’t catch a break when balls fell into play. He even ranked above the 90th percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate allowed. It was truly spectacular how many soft-hit balls fell into play.
Moreover, Rodriguez got shelled by the White Sox in his Detroit debut, fueling the hater’s flames. But Chicago is the best left-handed hitting team in the league, so I’m not overreacting to that yet.
It’ll be interesting to see E-Rod against Alex Cora and co. Obviously, he has never faced this lineup. But I am sure the lineup knows Rodriguez intimately, and vice-versa.
Rodriguez has faced a few batters in this lineup – seven to be exact. Over those 24 PAs, he’s allowed just a .222 xBA and a .299 xSLG, although he pitched to a 5.82 FIP.
Plus, the Red Sox lineup has been slumping its way through the first week. Through five games, Boston is dead last in wRC+ (55) and third to last in OPS (.516). Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo have been good, but the rest of the lineup has performed below average and Trevor Story has yet to break out.
Rodriguez relies primarily on a four-seam fastball and a changeup. That’s good for this Boston lineup, which finished ninth in weighted fastball runs created and third in weighted changeup runs created last season.
Detroit Tigers Starting Lineup
CF Akil Baddoo L
LF Austin Meadows L
SS Javier Baez R
3B Jaimer Candelario S
DH Miguel Cabrera R
2B Jonathan Schoop R
1B Spencer Torkelson R
C Tucker Barnhart S
RF Victor Reyes S
Detroit Tigers Vs. Nathan Eovaldi
Eovaldi struggled against the Yankees on Opening Day. But he also gave up some cheap Yankee Stadium home runs, with a few barely sneaking over the short porch in right field.
While his ERA for the start ended at 5.40, his xFIP was down at 2.07. He also struck out seven Yankees over just five innings of work while walking only one.
All-in-all, I’m not worried about Eovaldi. He’s still a stud who is one of the better pitchers in the AL and will see more success in less hitter-friendly ballparks.
That should start today at Comerica. In four career games against the Tigers, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.78 xFIP while allowing just a .288 wOBA.
Now, this is a much more talented Tiger lineup. Newcomer Javier Baez is hitting .333 with a .908 OPS in the early season, and he’s raking against Red Sox pitching. He hit a booming home run in the series opener and added to it with an RBI double on Tuesday afternoon.
Javier Baez stays hot as a Tiger! He smokes an RBI double to left field and the Tigers take a 3-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/mqQUcFhp8L
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 12, 2022
But I’m willing to bet Eovaldi keeps the Tigers at bay.
Boston Red Sox Vs. Detroit Tigers Picks & Prediction
My pick: Boston Red Sox ML (+104 at WynnBet)
I’m going to back Boston in this game.
I think the Boston bats are about to wake up after last night’s late-game comeback. The Red Sox are due for some positive regression on the offensive end, as they’re hitting the ball hard (second in average exit velocity) but those batted balls haven’t found the gaps (29th in BABIP).
I also am higher on the Boston bullpen than I am on the Tigers. Detroit clearly has some weak links in the middle-relief roles, while Chaim Bloom is pulling relievers out of the woodworks. Kutter Crawford and Jake Diekman have looked superb so far, and that’s not mentioning Garrett Whitlock.
While E-Rod is due for a ton of positive regression, I still have to give the starting pitching advantage to Eovaldi in this one.
And we’re getting such short odds with the Red Sox, that it’s worth throwing a unit at the ML.