Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox Matchup Preview (8/20/21): Betting Odds, Starting Lineups, Daily Fantasy Picks

Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox Matchup Preview (8/20/21)

The Rangers are dead, something we all expected, yet has only been exemplified by the trading away of Kyle Gibson and Joey Gallo. Meanwhile, the Red Sox aren’t dead, but they’re close. Back on July 3, the Red Sox had a 4.5 game lead in the division, which has now turned into a six-game deficit. Boston took three of four from the Yankees back in late July and have posted a 7-14 record since (including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees this week).

Boston does get Chris Sale back for his second MLB start. His 2021 debut – his first Major League start in over two years – went great. Against the Orioles, he allowed back-to-back home runs in the third inning but pitched flawlessly otherwise, striking out eight and pitching five full innings. But will Sale be enough to bring the team back to life? I’m not sure, but I bet they have a pretty good chance to beat the Rangers today. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox Matchup Page.

TV Schedule

Date: Friday, August 20th, 2021
Time: 7:10 PM ET
Location: Fenway Park – Boston, MA
TV Coverage: BSSW, NESN

Texas Rangers Starting Lineup

  1. Yonny Hernandez (S) 3B
  2. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa(R) SS
  3. Adolis Garcia (R) RF
  4. DJ Peters (R) CF
  5. Nate  Lowe (L) 1B
  6. Yohel Pozo (R) DH
  7. Charlie Culberson (R) LF
  8. Andy Ibanez (R) 2B
  9. Jose Trevino (R) C

Texas Rangers Analysis

There isn’t much to say about the Rangers.

They’re 11-30 since July started and are now 28 games back of the division-leading Astros. Over the past month, the starting pitching staff has posted the worst FIP in the league (5.70) while the lineup has posted the worst wRC+ in the league (57).

The offense has been incredibly bad, almost non-existent. Since July 1, the lineup is batting .196 with a .577 OPS and .252 wOBA. They’ve scored the fewest runs in the Majors during that stretch, 122, which is a whopping 24 runs fewer than the second-worst team (Baltimore).

The Rangers may have found something in Adolis García, but even he’s slumping recently. He’s batting .161 with a .555 OPS this month, striking out 24 times in 65 PA’s (36.6% of the time). When García is slumping, the Texas baseball community has nothing to look forward to.

However, if Rangers fans are going to tune into the game, it’ll be when Dane Dunning is on the mound:

Starting Pitcher: Dane Dunning (RHP)

Dunning has pitched surprisingly well. With Gibson gone, the 26-year-old is far and away the best pitcher on this depleted roster.

His strikeout numbers are slightly down from previous years (8.76 K/9 2021; 9.26 K/9 2020), but his walks (3.16 BB/9) and home runs (.81 HR/9) are both way down. As a result, his xFIP has dropped to the lowest it’s been in his young career (3.69).

I can easily see extra positive regression from Dunning, too, given his .336 BABIP is sure to drop back down to league average (.300).

But maybe the positive regression train has already entered Dunning station – Dunning’s posted a 2.73 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over his past six starts (since July 1). Moreover, the Rangers are an astounding 5-1 in those starts.

Dunning relies almost entirely on his sinker, throwing it more than half the time. He’s been relatively effective with it (.269 BA, .401 SLG on his sinker), but he’s also allowing a 50% hard-hit rate on the pitch, and his .349 xwOBA suggests his numbers on the pitch won’t stay down for long.

Luckily, the xwOBA on his two secondary pitches – a slider and changeup – are both below .250. So, if he gets a little unlucky with his sinker, he should be able to fall back on his breaking stuff and continue to pitch well. 

Boston Red Sox Starting Lineup

  1. Kiké Hernandez (R) 2B
  2. Kyle Schwarver (R) LF
  3. Xander Bogaerts (L) SS
  4. Rafael Devers (L) 3B
  5. J.D. Martinez (R) DH
  6. Alex Verdugo (L) CF
  7. Hunter Renfroe (R) RF
  8. Christian Vazquez (R) C
  9. Travis Shaw (L) 1B

Boston Red Sox Analysis

The Red Sox incredible first half came on the back of overachieving pitching and timely hitting. But neither of those things are happening right now, and the Red Sox are flailing because of it.

The offensive numbers have come up a tad bit in recent weeks, but they’re still having RISP woes. For example: When the Red Sox loaded up the bases in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and with no outs, proceeded to strike out three straight times.

Another example: Rafael Devers, who generally bats third or clean up, is not getting it done recently. Devers has posted just a .753 OPS this month and has only driven in seven runs in seventeen games.

Boston’s bullpen was a big worry for fans coming into the season, but they’ve surprised everyone. Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino were as good as expected, while Garrett Whitlock and Hirokazu Sawamura surprised everyone.

Recently, however, they’ve been a big disappointment. Over the past two weeks, the relievers have posted a 4.38 FIP and a 5.09 xFIP – both stats that rank among the back half of the league. And they totally wrecked a solid start from youngster Tanner Houck.

But maybe today’s starter can pitch a shutout and re-set the bullpen. He’s certainly capable of doing so:

Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale (LHP)

Sale’s debut, while excellent, came against the Orioles. Therefore, deeming that Sale is officially “back” because he pitched five innings and allowed two runs against a 38-81 ballclub is shortsighted, right?

I’m not so sure. For all their flaws, the Orioles destroy left-handed pitching. Baltimore’s .753 OPS, .323 wOBA, and 106 wRC+ vs. southpaws all rank in the top 10 in MLB this season. The O’s also strike out at the ninth-lowest rate vs. LHPs in MLB (22%).

So, Sale made two major, back-to-back mistakes in his start against Baltimore, but was otherwise flawless. His eight strikeouts and zero walks produced a 1.39 xFIP for the start, which is overwhelmingly impressive considering Baltimore’s capabilities.

The Rangers have posted the second-lowest wRC+ vs. LHPs this season (78), batting just .229 with a .648 against that side this year. So, I’m expecting Sale to have a huge outing.

Rangers Vs Red Sox Daily Fantasy Angle

Considering neither offense has much success with either pitcher, it’s hard to find a position player that makes sense to target.

I’d recommend staying away from Devers, as he’s slumping. And I’d say the same about García.

He might be a little pricey, but Sale might be the best target in this situation. He struck out 35 batters over 20 minor league innings before his 2021 debut and then shoved against an O’s offense that’s elite against the left side.

Meanwhile, over the past month and against LHPs, the Rangers have posted a ridiculously low 37 wRC+ while striking out at the sixth-highest rate (25%). I wouldn’t be surprised if Sale pushes six or seven innings while collecting double-digit punchouts.   

Rangers Vs. Red Sox Betting Odds

There’s almost no value on the Red Sox in this game, as -350 is too high to take in any MLB game. You could consider either the Rangers at big plus-money or on the alternate run line, but it feels like you’re wasting money with them at that point.

While the line isn’t available yet, I think it’ll be wise to target Sale’s strikeout total in this one. As mentioned above, the Rangers are whiffing a lot anyways, but Sale is going to be able to attack with his lethal slider. Historically, Sale has thrown his slider about a third of the time, and the Rangers have posted a whopping -19.5 weighted slider runs this season.

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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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