Things should start getting back to normal now in Major League Baseball, as everybody has settled back in following the All-Star Break. We’re also seeing pitchers taking their regular turns now, which should lower scoring, at least to a degree. Maybe that will be the case in the game between the Yankees and Red Sox on Friday night.

It will be Gerrit Cole for the Yankees and Eduardo Rodriguez for the Red Sox. The game is basically a toss-up in the -105 range with AL Cy Young favorite on the bump and the total sits at 8.5 at Fenway Park according to Bookmaker Sportsbook. We don’t see many 8.5s at Fenway Park. There have been only seven totals of 8.5 or lower in a non-doubleheader in Boston this season.

New York Yankees

The Yankees are such a hard team to figure out. A lineup loaded with talent has been a consistent underachiever this season, due in large part to not cashing in with runners in scoring position. As a whole, the Yankees are right around the middle of the pack in wOBA, though their recent returns have been a bit better than what we saw early in the season.

The problem is that New York can’t get hits when it matters most. The Yankees entered play on Thursday ranked 28th in wOBA at .293 with men in scoring position. They’ve drawn a lot of walks, but rank 29th in SLG in that split. They’ve been awful when it matters most and that is a big reason why this offense has been one of the most disappointing groups of the season.

We’ll see what Gerrit Cole is able to provide for the Yankees in a tough setting against a good lineup. Cole has a 2.63 ERA with a 2.78 FIP for the season over his 120 innings, but that does not tell the total story. Since June 3, Cole has a 3.83 ERA with a 4.24 FIP. Those are still solid numbers, but nowhere near the numbers that we’ve come to expect from Cole.

It does seem like he’s figured some things out, as his last two starts have been against Houston and Boston and he has allowed one run on eight hits in 15 innings with 23 strikeouts against four walks. Cole had not had a double-digit strikeout game after the MLB memo about cracking down on foreign substances until that complete game effort against Houston.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are still the team to beat in the AL East, but the pressure is mounting. The Tampa Bay Rays made a big splash on Thursday by adding Nelson Cruz to the lineup. Boston doesn’t really need offensive pieces, but an upgrade here or there wouldn’t hurt. Upgrades to the pitching staff would definitely be a welcomed sight.

Boston started out the season extremely well, but has been sort of treading water, at least statistically since. The Red Sox have still done well in the wins and losses categories, but the offensive numbers have been pretty middle of the road and the pitching staff has regressed, particularly in terms of home run rate. Through it all, though, the Red Sox have found a way to stay atop the AL East.

Winning games like this would really help because these are two-game swings. Even though the Yankees don’t look like much of a concern now, you still don’t want to give a team like that any life. The Red Sox could get a boost next month from the return of Chris Sale, but there are certainly areas that could be addressed at the Trade Deadline.

If Eduardo Rodriguez’s positive regression keeps happening, the 28-year-old left-hander will be like a deadline deal. Rodriguez has a 5.19 ERA, but a 3.66 xERA and a 3.51 FIP. He’s been victimized by a ton of bad luck, as he has a .353 BABIP against and also a 65.8% LOB%. Rodriguez has a good strikeout rate, a solid walk rate, and his home run total isn’t that obscene. He just hasn’t had any luck in high-leverage spots.

The interesting thing about that is that the Yankees offense has not had good fortunes in big spots, so something has to give in this game. Rodriguez has allowed six runs on 17 hits over his last 22.2 innings of work, so hopefully those positive fortunes continue for Red Sox fans and backers.

Yankees vs. Red Sox Free Pick

This is a low total for Fenway Park, so even though we have a good pitching matchup, it is hard to play an under 8.5. The Yankees have seen a couple of pretty good outings from Cole recently against a couple of great offenses. The Red Sox have to be pleased with how Rodriguez is coming along as well.

For me, the nod goes to the Red Sox here. They’ve been the better, more consistent offense and Rodriguez looks to be trending upward, while Cole is hit or miss from start to start right now.

Pick: Boston Red Sox