When the Boston Red Sox lost Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery just before last season, it was a sign that maybe they would have a rough year. Of course, that turned out to be the case, as the Red Sox were terrible in 2020 and desperately missed their seven-time All-Star. Now, in the middle of a surprisingly good 2021 campaign, getting Sale back was like a prime deadline acquisition that immediately gave Boston a top-notch rotation piece.
The Red Sox will need him down the stretch as they fight to hold onto one of the American League Wild Card spots. Currently, they are 1½ games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays for the top spot and two games ahead of the New York Yankees. The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners (both 4½ games back) are still alive but likely won’t be able to catch Boston, which has now won six games in a row after beating up on the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Sale will close out the two-game series with the Mets while a struggling Taijuan Walker gets the nod for New York. First pitch from Fenway Park at 7:10 p.m. ET. The BetUS sportsbook has the Red Sox as -170 moneyline favorites and as +105 favorites on the runline. The Mets are +150 moneyline underdogs and -125 underdogs on the runline. Current MLB lines have the over/under at 9½ runs.
Sale Building Up
Since returning on Aug. 14, Sale has made six starts and, for the most part, has looked pretty good. A recent 11-day COVID absence connected to the team’s outbreak this month wasn’t what he needed, but he seemed to get over it fine because Sale pitched well against the Baltimore Orioles his last time out with five one-run innings.
Overall, Sale has had only one subpar start and that was an outing against the Tampa Bay Rays in which his defense betrayed him a bit and he was charged with five runs (only one earned). He hasn’t walked many guys, is striking out a batter per inning and has a 2.40 ERA. Also, the Red Sox are 5-1 in his starts. While he might not be close to full strength yet, he’s definitely getting there.
So, if you’re betting online, back Sale and the Red Sox on the runline. The Mets got to Eduardo Rodríguez a little bit on Tuesday, but their ice-cold offense wasn’t able to convert on various run-scoring opportunities that could have blown the game wide open. It’ll be even tougher to do so against Sale.
All-Star Game Sunk Walker
The first half of the 2021 season was like a dream for Walker. After signing with the Mets in the offseason, he was their second-best pitcher through the first 3½ months of the season and was rewarded with his first All-Star Game selection. Walker had a 2.66 ERA with a low 1.056 WHIP before the break and was, night in, night out, shutting down opposing lineups. Then, after he pitched in the Midsummer Classic, things went south immediately.
In his first post-All-Star start, Walker couldn’t even get out of the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates and he really hasn’t recovered. He has a 7.04 ERA in the second half and has yet to win a start. His hits and walks have gone up but the real concern is the home runs. In the first half, he gave up just six long balls in nearly 95 innings. In the second half, he has allowed 18 home runs in 55 innings. That says it all.
Walker has had some good starts scattered throughout the last few months but, mostly, he has been getting battered. If he could manage to strand baserunners instead of letting teams cash them in with homers, then he could regain his early-season standing. But, that’s easier said than done, especially against the Red Sox, who are ninth in baseball in home runs and have as formidable a heart of the lineup as any team.
The MLB odds agree that Boston will get to Walker, and with the Mets’ lineup and bullpen both looking like that of a team ready to pack it in this season, the Red Sox are a smart play.
Mets Just Can’t Score
When it comes down to it, the Mets’ offense has been one of the worst in baseball and there’s no good reason why things should change now. Their playoff chances are minuscule so New York is just playing out the string. The Mets have the third-fewest runs in baseball, sixth-fewest home runs, and sixth-worst slugging percentage.
It’s definitely a team that has been much worse than the sum of its parts while the Red Sox arguably have been the opposite, which is why they’re in playoff position. Sale will be able to limit the damage because New York has struggled so much with runners in scoring position and, as one of the slower teams on the basepaths, the Mets have had issues manufacturing runs when they can’t get the big hit. It’s just not a good combination for them and the matchup doesn’t help.
That’s why, if you’re making MLB picks, you should jump on the Boston runline for good value.