Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox (7/6/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are locked in a battle for … second-place in the AL East.

But that actually carries a lot of weight in the American League. Boston leads Toronto by 1.5 games for the top AL Wildcard spot, while Tampa sits two games ahead of Cleveland for the third Wildcard spot.

So, as you can likely ascertain, all three Wildcard spots are currently held by the three “second place” teams in the AL East.

Therefore, this interdivisional matchup means a whole lot more than just divisional supremacy. It means a playoff spot.

Which team has the edge?

Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my predictions for this Saturday’s matchup.

Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox Odds

It’s surprising that the Red Sox are favored in this game, as they have a guy making his Major League debut on the mound.

However, Brayan Bello is not your average Minor League pitcher. He may be the most dominant Minor League pitcher Boston’s organization has seen in a decade.

But he may be overhyped. That could lead you to bet the Rays as underdogs with Corey Kluber on the mound.

Either way, in a matchup between these two pitchers, the total seems high at 9 or 9.5. It’s usually a sharper play to take an under with a total that high.

Tampa Bay Rays Starting Lineup

C. Kluber R
3-5 3.91 ERA

3B Y. Diaz R
SS W. Franco S
RF H. Ramirez R
DH J. Choi L
1B I. Paredes R
LF R. Arozarena R
C F. Mejia S
CF K. Kiermaier L
2B T. Walls S

Tampa Bay Rays vs Bryan Bello

So, what can Red Sox fans expect from Bello?

It feels like absolute domination, from the numbers.

https://twitter.com/toomuchtuma/status/1543226978697969668?s=20&t=Bn3CMtYwaqiqNDFDtGXaLw

His 2.81 ERA and 2.64 xFIP during 51 ⅓ Triple-A starts are very encouraging. He also pitched to a 1.60 ERA and a 2.67 xFIP during six Double-A starts. He also managed 12.62 K/9 in his time with Worcester.

If you’re going to bring up a high-level prospect for his MLB debut, the Rays aren’t a bad choice. While Tampa is often heralded as the best-run organization in baseball, and they’ve been rather good in 2022, the offense is unspectacular.

Against RHPs over the last month, the Rays pair the third-highest strikeout rate (25.5%) with a 98 wRC+. Plus, the Rays have the 23rd-best Weighted Fastballs Created plus, which could be a problem against a young pitcher with a plus fastball.

The Rays don’t have a bad offense, but they’ve been hurt, with Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Mike Zunino spending time on the IL.

But Lowe and Zunino are still hurt. The Rays have a long way to go.

The Rays did score eight last night, but three came in the first inning and Pivetta was due for some negative regression. Plus, Boston’s newest breakout reliever – John Schreiber – didn’t pitch in this one, maybe helping the Rays towards a few extra runs.

Boston Red Sox Starting Lineup

B. Bello R
0-0 .00 ERA

CF J. Duran L
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 Corey Kluber

Kluber has pitched above average this season. He’s managed to accumulate 1.4 fWAR so far this year, keeping his ERA, FIP, and xFIP all below 4.00.

His ground-ball rate is down, but he’s managed to keep his batted-ball statistics above ground. Kluber also ranks above the 90th percentile in chase rate and walk rate, which is a surprising combination for a pitcher.

But will it be enough to keep this Red Sox offense down? Boston hits the ball as hard as any team in MLB, ranking among the top-five teams in avg. exit velocity, barrel rate, and hard-hit rate. They’ve also posted a top-10 wRC+ over the last two weeks.

Rafael Devers leads the charge in Boston, leading the AL in hits, doubles, and total bases. But Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, and Trevor Story are all among the league leaders in wRC+ for their position. And Jarren Duran has been rather effective in the leadoff position since taking over for the injured Kiké Hernandez.

The Red Sox scored only four in the loss to Tampa last night. But they stranded 11 while going 2-for-12 with RISP. I think the Red Sox offense could be due for some game-to-game regression.

Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox Pick & Prediction

My picks: Under 9.5 (-115 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

Sharp money has already hit this total, pushing the number down from the 9.5 opener to 9 at many sportsbooks. There aren’t many 9.5s left, so grab the number at FanDuel as soon as possible.

The market is pushing me towards the number, but so is the wind. The wind is projected to be blowing in at around 8mph on Wednesday evening at Fenway, which tends to be a sharp signal towards the under.

Four of the last five meetings between these two teams have stayed under the listed total, and I’ll take that side again on Wednesday evening.

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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