Red Sox at Yankees – Free Pick July 8th

New York Yankees -115 at Boston Red Sox +105 (Total: 9.5)

Ivan Nova (9-3, 4.05 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (4-4, 4.33 ERA)

The Yankees and Red Sox split a day-night double header yesterday, and the Yankees are now up 2-1 in this four game series, with the Sox looking to escape with a desperately needed win tonight to even the series.  Despite the fact that these two teams still have 14 more head-to-head matchups after tonight, many fans have looked at this series as a “must-win” for the Red Sox, who trail the Yankees by 8 ½ games.  I agree that there is a ton of season left to play, but it is hard to argue with the logic that falling in a double-digit game hole to the Bronx Bombers wouldn’t mean the end of the season…

The Red Sox have been forced to call in reinforcements from AAA Pawtucket, and so far it has been paying dividends.  The emergence if rookie Will Middlebrooks made Kevin Youkalis expendable, and last night they got a huge unexpected lift from Pedro Ciriaco who contributed four hits and four RBIs.  They are going to need some more young firepower tonight if they want to even the series against Ivan Nova.

Nova has an excellent record on the season, but it is a good example of why wins and losses is one of the more irrelevant statistics for pitchers.  His 4.05 ERA is nothing to brag about, nor is his  1.38 WHIP.  He has been better of late, despite one rough outing, he has still posted a 2.68 ERA over his last three starts and certainly has the stuff to shut down most lineups on any given night.

Judging by the first three games of this series, Nova should get some early run support.  The Yankees have scored 12 first inning runs in the first three games of this series.  To put that in context, that is seven more runs than the Dodgers scored during their recent seven-game malaise.  Having an early lead tends to help pitchers settle into a groove and take some of the pressure off trying to make perfect pitches.

Lester has been somewhat of a disappointment this season.  Expected to be an anchor for the staff, he is still hovering over 4.00 with his ERA, and the Sox are just 7-10 in games he has started this season.  They are going to need a sharp performance from him tonight to keep the explosive Yankee lineup in check. However, I don’t think they are going to get it.  This Yankee team is scoring runs in bunches, averaging nearly seven runs per contest over their last ten games.  Look for them to tally some runs early and coast to a win behind a solid effort from Ivan Nova.  I like the Yankees to win, and especially love the value at just -115.

Free Pick:  New York Yankees to WIN -115