The Boston Red Sox went into Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees with a 7-0 record in the head-to-head meetings. They left town at 7-2, as New York won the last two games to take down a COVID-shortened series victory. Boston doesn’t have long to dwell on the defeats, as a big series begins tonight in Buffalo against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nick Pivetta and Ross Stripling will get things started between these two squads. Toronto scored 15 runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Rangers on Sunday and the push is on to make a move up the AL East standings. A big showing in this series would help and the Jays are favored in the -130 range with a total of 10.5 at BetUS Sportsbook to get off to a good start.
Boston Red Sox
Ever since the foreign substance crackdown took hold, the statistical profile for the Red Sox has not looked as impressive. The offense sits around the middle of the pack, not necessarily because of a fall from grace, but because offense has been up around the league and Boston has stayed steady. The Red Sox are 10th in wOBA since June 3.
What has not stayed steady is the performance from the pitching staff. With yesterday’s 9-1 loss included in the calculation, the Red Sox rank 13th in ERA and 20th in FIP since the first memo went out on the third day of June. The biggest reason for the change is that Boston’s HR/FB% is up to 16.2%.
The Red Sox took a lot of pride in limiting home runs against in April and May. They haven’t had the same fortunes since, but are still 24-15 in that span. There are a lot of reasons to look down on the Red Sox, who are overachieving by four games via Pythagorean Win-Loss and by eight games in BaseRuns. The Red Sox look more like a 48-46 team by that alternate standings metric.
Nick Pivetta gets the call today for the Sox. He has a 4.30 ERA with a 4.18 FIP in 96.1 innings of work over 18 starts. Pivetta has struck out 27.8% of batters, but has also allowed a 10.8% BB%. He is one of the guys that has struggled of late, posting a 5.34 ERA with a 5.70 FIP over his last 32 innings of work.
The Red Sox bullpen still ranks in the top 10 in ERA and fWAR, but we’ve seen some reversals there as well, especially in the HR department since the foreign substance crackdown. They’ve been strong, but haven’t been quite as sharp.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have a lot of work to do in order to get into the MLB playoff picture, but nobody wants to face this team if it happens. Toronto may not have the strongest pitching staff in baseball, but the only offense in Toronto’s category belongs to the Houston Astros. The Blue Jays now lead baseball in wOBA with men in scoring position after yesterday’s onslaught and rank second in wOBA since June 3.
Toronto now boasts the best offense in baseball overall in wOBA. The Jays have really taken advantage of two friendly home park factors in Dunedin, FL and Buffalo, NY, but they are not a one-trick pony like a lot of other teams. They are ninth in road wOBA as well, though it is a big drop-off from the home numbers.
The Blue Jays are at home here and will be looking to put up runs in support of Ross Stripling. Stripling has had a major resurgence this season to improve upon some weak numbers earlier in the year. He still has a 4.34 ERA and a 4.87 FIP, as the remnants of his bad start to season are hanging around, but he has a 2.90 ERA in his eight starts since and including May 24.
Stripling did struggle last time out against the Rays with four runs allowed on four hits in just 3.2 innings. He allowed three home runs and had his second-highest exit velocity in the sample size. The highest came against Boston on June 11, so we’ll see if he can locate better this time around.
Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Free Pick
Money is coming in on the Blue Jays here, as their home offense has been virtually unstoppable. Pivetta has had some issues lately to say the least and Stripling, while posting a 2.90 ERA over his last eight starts, also has a 4.58 FIP in that span. Games between the Blue Jays and good offenses seem to be track meets in Buffalo and that’s what we’ll look for here as well.
Pick: Over 10.5