Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees on Opening Day did not disappoint.
The game went 11 full innings before the Yankees walked it off. There were five runs scored in just the first inning alone. But Gerrit Cole and co. cashed for Yankees ML (-170) bettors.
But there are 162 games in a season, and Boston will look to avenge the tough loss with Nick Pivetta on the mound.
The Yankees will send out righty Luis Severino, coming off back-to-back injury-riddled seasons. We’ll see if he can shake it off.
The betting odds sit at -160 for the Yankees and +140 for the Red Sox at DraftKings, while the total is hovering between 9 and 9.5 across the market.
Where does the value lie?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups and my prediction for Saturday’s marquee game between the sport’s two biggest rivals.
Boston Red Sox Vs. New York Yankees Odds
These odds feel too long for the Yankees.
These games are always competitive and rarely disappoint. Yesterday was the perfect example. So, whenever the Yankees and Red Sox match up, I feel like it’s a coin flip.
A -170 line for the Yankees implies they have a 63% chance of winning the game. I don’t think the Yankees should ever have over a 60% chance of winning a game against Boston, and vice versa.
That’s especially true with an injured Luis Severino on the mound.
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
Red Sox Vs. Luis Severino (R)
Severino is a very good starting pitcher. A few years ago, he posted a sub-3.00 WHIP over 32 starts and almost 200 innings. He posted a 19-8 personal record and the Yankees won almost every start he made.
But we haven’t seen Severino since. He’s made three starts and seven total appearances since that season, pitching just 18 innings. He was excellent during those outings, but it’s too small a sample size to make anything of it.
For what it’s worth, projections have Severino making 24 starts and accruing 3.0 WAR with a mid-3.00 ERA and FIP. He’ll be an above-average starter who maybe is limiting in his outings.
Against this Red Sox lineup, Severino’s been superb. In 124 total plate appearances, Red Sox hitters have posted just a .246 wOBA against the Yankee pitcher with an avg. exit velocity below 90mph.
It doesn’t add up, as Boston theoretically should smash Severino’s arsenal. Severino’s three-pitch mix includes a four-seam, a slider, and a change. In 2021, Boston’s lineup ranked ninth against the four-seam (38.6 weighted fastball runs created), first against the slider (18.5 weighted slider runs created), and third against the change (23.1 weighted changeup runs created).
But then again, Severino hasn’t seen this lineup in a few years – the last time he made a start against Boston was in 2018.
Rafael Devers and Xander Boegarts are more mature, and both should make an MVP push this year. Trevor Story was added in the offseason, which is significant. Bobby Dalbec was one of the best second-half hitters in baseball last season.
It’ll be tough to project this one. But I’m excited to see how it plays out.
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
Yankees Vs. Nick Pivetta (R)
Nick Pivetta is the Red Sox’s X-factor this year. With Chris Sale sidelined for likely two months, he’s going to be the second-biggest innings-eater in the rotation. Tanner Houck might pitch better, but he’ll be limited in his exposure given his age. Pivetta won’t.
So, will we get the Pivetta that pitched nine one-run innings in the postseason last year? Or, will we get the Pivetta that pitched to a 6.89 ERA in 2020?
I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Advanced stats show he benefitted from some luck in the playoff appearances. And they also show he benefitted from some bad luck in the shortened 2020 season – specifically with the long ball, as his 22.5% HR/FB rate was six percent higher than his career average.
I think Pivetta will be a slightly above average pitcher and likely give the Red Sox’s deadly lineup a chance to win.
But I know Pivetta will throw a steady dose of a mid-90s fastball and underperform his expected metrics. He throws the four-seam over half the time, and hitters posted a .340 wOBA on the pitch even though the xwOBA on the pitch was .323. And over his career, his xFIP has consistently remained below his FIP.
Image credit: FanGraphs
The Bronx Bombers have a reputation for being fastball killers, but that’s not really the case. New York finished 15th last year in weighted fastball runs created (13.6), or league average.
New York needs to capitalize on Pivetta’s oft shaky control. New York is the king of the true three outcomes, and it led MLB in walk rate (10.2%) while ranking sixth in strikeout rate (24.5%).
Pivetta has consistently walked almost four batters per nine innings in his career, which is well below league average. However, his strikeout rate has gone up year-over-year, and he reached the coveted 10 strikeouts per nine innings mark last season.
If the Yanks walk more than they strikeout, they’ll likely win this game. Vice-versa and the Red Sox will even the series and force a rubber match.
Boston Red Sox Vs. New York Yankees Picks & Prediction
My pick: Boston Red Sox ML (+152 at WynnBet)
Either way, I know that Boston provides value here.
You can get Boston’s ML as high as +152 at WynnBet, which is enough juice to place a wager on.
What are we going to get from Severino? Pivetta may be shaky, but he’s not hard to predict. Severino could be a stud, but he also could flounder after years of repair. And do you want to lay -170 with that on your mind?
Plus, I think the Red Sox lineup provides more upside. At home and against RHPs last season, the Yankees were a league average lineup, posting a 101 wRC+.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox finished 2021 with a 106 wRC+, which finished sixth in MLB. And they added significantly with Story.
I’ll take a half-unit shot with the Red Sox with the plus money, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it at anything less than +150.