Chris Sale was asked to deliver a gem for the Red Sox, and a gem he threw. Sale blanked the Blue Jays across 7 innings, with the bullpen taking care of the rest in a 3-0 victory at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday. Sale needed a lights out performance and he got it. The Yankees were starting to knock on the door, but Sale made sure that the Red Sox gained a game on Monday. The Red Sox expect Sale to take that form in the postseason. Throw in their bullpen, and the Red Sox will be a difficult out if Sale is pitching like he did last night. Rick Porcello will hope to duplicate what Sale did tonight.
Porcello has the potential to pitch a gem. He’s just one year removed from a Cy Young campaign, but he hasn’t been pitching up to par in his bid for an encore. Porcello hasn’t been downright awful, but he hasn’t been anything close to last year. His performance pretty well went to waste in 2016, as far as the team is concerned. This season the team really needs Porcello to dig deep and find the magic he found last season because they’re really going to need him come postseason time.
The Red Sox offense has shaped up in 2017, but the starting pitching has been hit and miss. I’m looking at you David Price and Porcello. Let’s hypothesize that Price was healthy and pitching at an elite level this season, and Porcello was hitting around a 3.00 ERA again. That combination without a doubt would have them ahead of the Astros in my book.
I don’t care if they were down to them in the standings, but in the postseason give me the Red Sox. They still may not need both of them pitching like aces. However, a productive Porcello in the postseason would give them a huge lift. The Blue Jays will counter Porcello with J.A. Happ. The Jays are 7.5 games behind the postseason, so barring a miracle, they will be shuttered from playing in October. Easy win on the Angels last night. Hopefully another tonight in Toronto. Head below for our free Red Sox vs. Blue Jays pick.
Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays Pick
Rick Porcello (8-15, 4.57 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (6-10, 4.10 ERA)
Porcello is coming off a rather crazy start. His defense did him no favors, but he wasn’t special either. With Porcello in against the Orioles there were 11 runs scored across 4.2 innings. However, only 4 runs were accredited to Porcello. Regardless it’s not a pretty start however you look at it. It looked like he was about to turn the corner before the O’s made easy work of him. In his three starts previous to the Orioles game, he allowed an average of 5 hits per game and 1, 3, and 2 runs. He certainly prefers to be pitching away from Fenway Park. Porcello owns a 3.96 ERA on the road, compared to a 5.03 at home.
Happ enters Wednesday with an ERA of 4.10. Who really could have predicted a few years ago that Happ would still have a solid enough career going in 2017. After his fifth straight year of producing an ERA above 4.00 in 2014, it seemed likely he was never going to become a major fixture in a rotation. However, then Happ was traded to the Pirates and he went on to post a 1.85 ERA with them in eleven starts to help them reach the postseason.
He followed it up with a 3.18 ERA in 2016, and now he’s regressing towards the mean with a 4.10 ERA in 2017. In his last three starts, Happ posted an ERA of 5.82 with a 1.59 WHIP. I’d say it’s an even pitching matchup tonight, but the Red Sox bullpen has a 3.27 ERA, 3rd in the majors. Conversely, the Jays have a bullpen ranked 20th. Likewise, offense and the motivation edge goes to the Red Sox. I see the Red Sox as heavier favorites than what the odds makers are giving them here. I like the Red Sox for our Wednesday MLB pick.
PICK: RED SOX (-105)