Boston Red Sox fans are unhappy after dropping the first two games of the season to its arch-rival. I’m sure those on Twitter will not overreact…
The New York Yankees have taken this series on raw power. Anthony Rizzo has hit two home runs. Giancarlo Stanton hit a big two-run homer on Friday to take the lead for good.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been mediocre both on the mound and in the box. Nick Pivetta pitched great but gave up two big home runs – avoiding the longball has been an issue in the past – and Trevor Story hasn’t quite heated up outside an RBI double in game two.
Can the Red Sox salvage this series with youngster Tanner Houck on the mound? Or will the Yankees start the season with a big sweep over its main rival?
Let’s check out the betting odds, starting lineups, and my prediction for this Sunday matinee.
Boston Red Sox Vs. New York Yankees Odds
The Red Sox got a slight bump in the odds market with Tanner Houck pitching against Jordan Montgomery.
And rightfully so. Houck was a buzzsaw down the stretch in 2021 and deserves a chance for plenty of innings this season. Meanwhile, Jordan Montgomery is nothing special, pitching to a 4.15 xFIP in his career.
But with the discounted odds, do the Red Sox still pose value here?
Boston Red Sox Starting Lineup
CF Kiké Hernandez R
3B Rafael Devers L
SS Xander Bogaerts R
DH J.D. Martinez R
LF Alex Verdugo L
2B Trevor Story R
1B Bobby Dalbec R
RF Jackie Bradley Jr L
C Christian Vazquez R
Boston Red Sox Vs. Jordan Montgomery (L)
Although he’s an average pitcher in his career, Montgomery put together a career season last year.
Over a career-high 30 starts, Montgomery posted a career-low 3.69 FIP. His expected statistics were right in line, and his 3.3 fWAR was also a career-high. He was an important part of a Yankee team that won 92 games.
Is it repeatable?
Probably. The key will be keeping the exit velocity down on his changeup, something that has never really been an issue. But the last two seasons, he’s been particularly good at keeping the opponent’s SLG rates down (.404 xSLG in both 2020 and 2021).
Image credit: Baseball Savant
I’d be a little worried about Montgomery against Boston’s lineup, especially with how the Sox hit changeups. But it hasn’t been a problem in the past, as he allowed just a .276 wOBA to the Red Sox over five starts last season.
Expect that number to come up, as his 3.06 FIP was paired with a 3.72 xFIP. The Sox should put up a few more runs in future starts with Montgomery.
New York Yankees Starting Lineup
3B Josh Donaldson R
RF Aaron Judge R
1B Anthony Rizzo L
DH Giancarlo Stanton R
2B DJ LeMahieu R
LF Joey Gallo L
CF Aaron Hicks S
C Kyle Higashioka R
SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa R
New York Yankees Vs. Tanner Houck (R)
If you’re looking for a young pitcher to break out in the coming years, look no further than Houck.
Outside of being a great look for Tanners everywhere, he’s an incredible pitcher. In 69 innings last season, he pitched to a 3.20 xFIP with an 11.35 K/9 and a .52 HR/9. Moreover, he allowed a .317 BABIP, which should regress down to .300 as he pitches more innings.
Houck is a righty clone of Chris Sale, as you can see from his mechanics.
Chris Sale and Tanner Houck are basically mirror images of each other pic.twitter.com/wYxIFYnDzk
— tess taruskin (@tesstass) October 9, 2021
Because of those Sale-like movements, Houck throws a similarly deadly fastball-slider combo. The fastball doesn’t have the velocity that Sale’s has, but the slider breaks just as much.
And in the end, both pitches fooled opposing hitters. Hitters posted an xwOBA under .200 on Houck’s slider last season.
The Yankees struggled against sliders last season, posting -13.5 weighted slider runs created. But the Yankees are a big swing-and-miss team, so tough breaking balls can fool the power hitters.
As such, the Yankees struggled against Houck last year. They posted just a .229 wOBA against Houck over 13 innings, scoring four runs in the process (2.70 ERA).
But Houck also pitched to a 3.89 xFIP in those innings, indicating regression similar to Montgomery.
Boston Red Sox Vs. New York Yankees Picks & Prediction
Considering both pitchers are due for negative regression, I’m looking towards the over.
I also like that the Red Sox bullpen isn’t very good, and the Yankees bullpen has been stretched thin after shorter starts from Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino.
Both offenses should continue to cook, and they might get a boost towards the short porch in the right field of Yankee stadium. The weather is calling for 15mph winds heading straight out to the right-field on Sunday evening.
On top of all that, there’s already sharp money hitting this over, pushing it from 9.5 to 10 at some books.
Put it all together, and the over 9.5 is my best bet for this battle.