Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels (6/6/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

Since May 10, the Boston Red Sox have the second-best record in baseball (16-8). For all the doubters, and “The Sky is Falling” takes in Eastern Massachusetts, the Red Sox are now a half-game ahead of their opponent in the American League Wildcard race.

The Los Angeles Angels lost their 11th straight game in excruciating fashion Sunday, giving up a 6-2 lead on a grand-slam to Bryce Harper in the eighth inning and then a three-run home run by Bryson Scott in the bottom of the ninth.

With that incredibly painful ninth-inning loss, the Angels officially ceded that last AL WC spot. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Anaheim fans.

The Angels will throw their new pitching toy on the mound for Monday’s contest, but Thor hasn’t been living up to expectations in Anaheim. Wonder where I’ve heard that before…

Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 1 of this four-game set.

Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels Odds

With Michael Wacha on the mound, the Red Sox are predictable road underdogs. But I don’t think that’s fair, given Wacha has been lights out in Boston.

Wacha is due for a fair amount of negative regression, but he deserves some level of respect in the betting markets.

Perhaps the total is slightly low at 8.5, as if Vegas values Wacha so low, the total should be closer to 9 or 9.5.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Boston Red Sox Starting Lineup

CF E. Hernandez R
3B R. Devers L
DH J. Martinez R
SS X. Bogaerts R
LF A. Verdugo L
2B T. Story R
1B F. Cordero L
C C. Vazquez R
RF J. Bradley L

Boston Red Sox vs Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard has spent some time on the IL, had some wonderful starts, and had some blowup starts. It’s been a rollercoaster in his first year on the West Coast.

Most recently, he returned home to New York. Not Queens, but the Bronx, where he allowed five runs over 2 ⅓ innings to the Yankees. It was ugly, as his FIP actually eclipsed 10.00 for the start.

There isn’t much to like about Syndergaard’s game right now. His control is fine, and he’s somewhat suppressing exit velocity. But the barrels are coming like crazy and he can’t strike anybody out. Take a look at his Baseball Savant page:

Screen Shot 2022 06 05 at 3.19.29 PM

Image credit: Baseball Savant

I always knew the Red Sox lineup was undervalued, even during its pathetic start to the season. They’ve finally woken up.

Over the last month, the Red Sox lead the league in OPS (.843), wOBA (.366), and wRC+ (140). They’ve posted a whopping 154 wRC+, meaning they’ve been 54% better than league average at producing runs.

Trevor Story has led the breakout, but the bottom of the order has really come around. Before May started, the Red Sox’s 7-through-9 hitters were the worst in the league. Those guys are at least competent now, and they’re letting the big guys drive them in.

Rafael Devers leads the league in hits (75), with Xander Bogaerts in fifth (64) and JD Martinez in 10th (61). Martinez still leads the league in batting average (.353), and he is still the clubhouse leader in OPS (.959).

The Red Sox bats are back, and the rest of the league needs to watch out.

Los Angeles Angels Starting Lineup

RF Taylor Ward R
CF Mike Trout R
DH Shohei Ohtani L
1B Jared Walsh L
3B Matt Duffy R
2B Luis Rengifo S
C Max Stassi R
LF Brandon Marsh L
SS Andrew Velazquez S

Los Angeles Angels vs Michael Wacha

Wacha is having an unbelievable season. But he’s due for plenty of regression.

His .198 BABIP is not sustainable, and so is his 81.9% strand rate. As both numbers go to the mean, his 2.43 ERA will move towards his 3.84 xERA.

But a 3.84 xERA is still miles ahead of where he was before. Wacha has posted an xERA above 5.00 in four straight seasons before coming to Boston. That’s progress.

Wacha pitches to contact, relying mostly on his changeup (32.1%) and slow-pitch fastball (29.7%, 93mph velocity on average). He’s been great at avoiding hard contact, as he ranks in the 82nd percentile of pitchers in hard-hit rate allowed.

The Angels are one of the best teams at producing barrels (9.8% barrel rate), but also one of the bottom-15 teams at producing hard contact (38% hard-hit rate). So, I can’t say how the Angels will fair against Wacha in this start.

Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels Pick & Prediction

My picks: Boston Red Sox ML (+120 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Angels will eventually win a game. But to price the Red Sox at +120 is ludicrous.

This is a mispriced line. The Red Sox shouldn’t be favored, but sharp money has already pushed this line down close to even money. The Sox should close at about +100.

During this streak, the Angels bullpen has a 6.04 ERA, good for fourth-worst in baseball. I don’t trust the Red Sox bullpen, either, but at least that unit has been league average during this stretch.

The Red Sox are hot, and this game would ensure they get over .500. I’ll bank on the Sox at anything better than about +110.

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Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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