Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox (4/15/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

Both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins got much-needed rest days yesterday, and now are looking forward to the weeks and months ahead – starting with this weekend series in Beantown.

Minnesota has started the season in lackluster fashion, getting crushed by the Dodgers in a two-game interleague series to fall to 2-4. But Byron Buxton is mashing and Carlos Correa hasn’t been too shabby either.

But the Red Sox lost their first series of the year to the Yankees. But after losing the series opener in Detroit, Boston has battled back to .500, currently sitting at 3-3 on the season. Trevor Story has started slow, but Rafael Devers is firmly in the early MVP race and other members of the lineup have stepped up in Story’s absence.

It’s far too early to make any sweeping generalizations about these two teams and the season ahead. So my note to both fanbases: Don’t overreact. There are another 150-something games to go.

For Friday’s afternoon matchup at Fenway Park, let’s focus on the starting lineups, the betting odds, and my predictions.

Where does the value lie?

Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox Betting Odds

I’m quite surprised to see Minnesota favored on the road here. The Red Sox has plenty of holes, but the Twins do too.

Joe Ryan is the de facto ace of the staff, but he’s only a rookie. Ryan has loads of upside and I bet him to win American League Rookie of the Year in the pre-season. But is he so far ahead that he should be favored against the daunting Red Sox in a relatively hitter-friendly park? In his first start this season, Ryan allowed two runs on two hits and two walks over four short innings to the Seattle Mariners.

Nick Pivetta is just as shaky, however. He’s as inconsistent of a pitcher as there is in MLB. He’s also the X-factor for the Red Sox rotation, and a good Pivetta is a top-tier No. 2 starter.

Either way, expect plenty of runs this game. The Red Sox lineup is heating up, having finally seen some positive regression after a slow start. And we know what the Twins lineup can do, and we know what both bullpens can’t do (pitch effectively).

Minnesota Twins Starting Lineup

CF Byron Buxton R
DH Luis Arraez L
SS Carlos Correa R
2B Jorge Polanco S
RF Max Kepler L
1B Miguel Sano R
3B Gio Urshela R
C Ryan Jeffers R
LF Trevor Larnach L

Minnesota Twins vs Nick Pivetta

As mentioned, Pivetta is the X-factor for the Red Sox this season. If he could tap into his top form – as he did in the 2021 playoff run – the Boston rotation becomes rather dangerous.

However, he hasn’t tapped into that form yet. He threw out a whopping 19.46 expected ERA in his first start, where he gave up two home runs and four earned runs against the Yankees. He walked three in the battle, too.

But it’s a bit unfair to judge him on that start. Yankee Stadium is essentially a little-league park with the short porch in right field. One of Giancarlo Stanton’s home run barely floated out of the outfield and over the right-field fence.

It’s worth talking about Byron Buxton, who is having a red-hot start to the year. He’s already shelled three home runs in just 25 PAs, leading to a .696 SLG and a 170 wRC+. However, he’s also walked just once (4% walk rate) and struck out 10 times (40% strikeout rate). So, it hasn’t been all pretty for the superstar.

If Buxton can just stay healthy, he should be in the running for MVP this season. He’s been one of the best hitters in baseball since the 2019 season, but he hasn’t played over 90 games in a year since 2017.

But since 2019, he’s posted a 139 OPS+ and hit 45 home runs in 193 games. And the stats are even more skewed than that.

Outside of Buxton, it hasn’t been all that pretty for the Twins. Through the first six games, the Twins rank 24th in MLB with a 77 wRC+ and are striking out more than every team except the Orioles (28.8% strikeout rate).

But the Twins should see positive regression come their way. Minnesota is top-five in MLB in both hard-hit rate (41.6%) and average exit velocity (89.9), but those hard-hit balls haven’t found the gaps. Minnesota has the second-lowest BABIP in the early going at .210.

For example, Correa has slashed just .211/.250/.474 during this stretch. But he ranks in the 87th percentile of players in hard-hit rate and has posted just a .273 BABIP.

Minnesota’s lineup will come around.

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 Joe Ryan

What should we expect from the rookie Ryan this season?

For one, a good amount of starts and innings at the top of the rotation. He’s also projected for about a 4.30 ERA and a slightly lower FIP while accruing anywhere from 1.3 to 1.8 fWAR. That’s a pretty damn good season for a rookie pitcher.

Ryan came over in the Nelson Cruz trade, and immediately became one of Minnesota’s best prospects. He’s always been dominant in the minor leagues, and he even pitched to a .79 WHIP over five starts in 2021.

It’ll also be nice to pitch in a pitcher-friendly ballpark back in Minnesota.

But don’t expect the Red Sox or Fenway Park to show any mercy. The Sox dropped 14 runs over the last two games against the Tigers. The Twins rank in the top-five in both average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, but so do the Red Sox – and their lineup has been better.

After smashing six home runs in the Grapefruit League, Devers is off-and-running in the early season. He’s posted a .370 OBP through the first six games while slugging .577. He’ll regress a bit given his .400 BABIP, but the guy sees the plate well and hits the ball as hard as anyone – his average exit velocity ranks in the 87th percentile so far this season.

Devers also has this bomb against Gerrit Cole that Red Sox fans can cherish for the next few weeks.

Story has posted just a 67 wRC+ in his 14 PAs as a Red Sox player. But he had a slight, day-to-day injury to deal with and is still getting integrated into being in Boston. I think his bat is about to wake up once he gets some at-bats in his new home ballpark.

Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox Picks & Prediction

My pick: Boston Red Sox ML (-105 at DraftKings)

I don’t think you can back the Twins as road favorites with a rookie pitcher on the mound.

Instead, I see some value in the home underdog. And with the Red Sox making their home opener on Friday afternoon, the players – and the crowd – will be amped to open up this series strong.

This feels like a case of the wrong team being favored. There’s no palpable advantage for the Twins in this spot, as the lineups, bullpens, and starting pitchers are pretty evenly matched. That being said, the home team should be favored as a default.

Therefore, I’ll take advantage and bet on the Red Sox with wicked short odds.

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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