Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Pick – October 7, 2021

The Wild Card round is done and bring on the divisional round!

The Red Sox were one of the two Wild Card teams to avoid the one-game playoff elimination with a 6-2 win over the Yankees, and it bought them a crack at the AL’s No. 1 seed Tampa Bay Rays beginning Thursday night at The Trop in Tampa Bay.

The Rays finished eight games clear of Boston within that AL East, but is Boston able to ride some momentum into Tampa Bay and take care of business in enemy territory?

Let’s find out as we have a Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 pick on tap from Tampa!

Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Betting Odds

Teams Moneyline Spread Total
Red Sox +138 +1.5 (-153) Over 8 (-103)
Rays -149 -1.5 (+133) Under 8 (-117)

Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Starting Pitching Breakdown

Red Sox

After Nathan Eovaldi helped pitch the Red Sox past the Yankees in Tuesday’s Wild Card win, it’s left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball to open the series tonight in Tampa Bay.

It was a little bit of an up-and-down season for E-Rod, but overall he was essentially one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball.

Rodriguez posted a 4.74 ERA on the season, but also a 3.32 FIP, 3.55 xERA, 3.42 xFIP and 3.64 SIERA as those are the best peripheral numbers of his career yet he posted the worst ERA of his six-year career. Rodriguez struck out 10.56 batters per nine innings — a career-high — and walked just 2.68 — a career low. He allowed home runs at just 1.08 HR/9 thanks to a solid 33.6% hard-hit rate, a 6.8% barrel rate and solid 34.3% fly-ball rate.

Despite all the lofty peripherals, Rodriguez surrendered a .363 BABIP, easily the highest mark of his career and well above his .311 career mark. Despite the career-high in punchouts, his 68.9% strand rate was the lowest of his career and well below his 74% career mark.

All that being said, the bad luck came almost exclusively at home where Rodriguez posted a 5.95 ERA but also a 3.25 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 11.32 K/9 and just 2.76 BB/9. He was still unlucky on the road, but the gap between his surface numbers and peripherals is much narrower with a 3.95 ERA/3.37 FIP outside of Fenway Park where he also posted a 10.07 K/9, 2.63 BB/9 and 1.03 HR/9.

Rodriguez faced the Rays four times this season, with varying results. He posted a 4.71 ERA in four starts spanning 21 innings agains the Rays this season. The home/road splits were in fine form in his two most recent starts against the Tampa as he hurled six shutout innings in Tampa back on Sept. 2, but followed that up by getting shelled for six runs in 3.2 innings his next time out which was against the Rays in Boston.

Rodriguez posted a stronger 2.25 ERA in two starts and 12 innings at Tropicana Field this season and is a lifetime 4.26 ERA pitcher in seven starts and 38 innings at this venue for his career.

Rays

The Rays don’t have many true starting pitchers these days, but rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan is one as he gets the ball to counter the Red Sox southpaw Rodriguez.

It was a rousing success for McClanahan in his first regular season at the big-league level as he turned in a 3.43 ERA/3.31 FIP to go along with 10.29 K/9 against just 2.70 BB/9. He yielded home runs at only a 1.02 HR/9 clip, but also yielded 45.4% hard contact and a 10.7% barrel rate, figures that ranked in the league’s 6th and 10th percentiles, respectively. A sub-30% ground-ball rate helped him keep the ball in the yard.

His home/road splits were rather even. He posted a 3.50 ERA/3.32 FIP at Tropicana Field this season, but his strikeouts popped to 11.19 K/9 at home compared to 9.31 on the road. Otherwise, his splits are quite narrow.

McClanahan has met the Red Sox three times this season, and posted a 2.81 ERA in those 16 innings of work, allowing just one homer in that time. In his lone meeting with the Sox in Tampa, he pitched six innings of one-run ball with just four hits and two walks allowed against seven strikeouts. His last outing against the Red Sox was a beauty on Sept. 8 when he hurled five shutout innings with just three hits and a walk allowed in that one.

You might recall that while he’s a rookie, this isn’t his first postseason. The hard-throwing southpaw pitched 4.1 innings as part of the Rays’ march to the 2020 World Series, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits — including two homers — and two walks against four strikeouts in that time.

Offense and Bullpen Notes

Red Sox

While their pitching surprised to the upside, even without Chris Sale for much of the season, the foremost reason as to why the Red Sox are in this ALDS is their offense.

Boston ranked third in baseball with a .333 wOBA on the season and fourth with a .186 ISO, but the bad news is the offense took a notable dip on the road.

While the posted the best home offense in baseball as per their .354 wOBA at Fenway Park, the Sox ranked 14th with a .312 wOBA on the road where the power dipped to a .176 ISO that still ranked in a tie for eighth league wide. Not boding well either is the fact that the offense on the road was similar off lefties at a .311 wOBA, but the power dropped again to a .157 ISO that tied for 17th.

In other words, they were at their best at home against right-handed pitching this season, but at their offensive worst on the road against lefties which is the scenario they find themselves in to start this one.

As for the Red Sox bullpen, it exceeded expectations. They weren’t lights out, but they put forth a strong 3.99 ERA that ranked 13th in baseball. They were better on the road where that bullpen pitched to a 3.65 ERA, good for the fifth-best road bullpen ERA in baseball. That mark improved to a 2.34 ERA over the last 30 days on the road spanning their last 218 batters faced outside of Fenway.

Rays

This Rays team has won on pitching for years, but this year the offense found another gear. In fact, only the Houston Astros scored more than the 857 runs the Rays scored this season, but it’s also been an offense on the rise.

After hovering around the middle of the pack earlier in the year, the Rays finished the season ranked 10th with a ,.322 wOBA, but also fifth with a .186 ISO, just two ticks behind the Red Sox in that department. The offense was quite similar at home with an identical .322 wOBA at The Trop this season, although the power dipped some to a still-strong .175 ISO.

That said, in the season’s second half, the Rays ranked third with a .338 wOBA and second in baseball with a .211 ISO. The additions of Wander Franco and Nelson Cruz are a big reason for the superior second-half work.

They’ve also helped their offense at home against lefties. Since Franco was promoted to the big leagues on June 22, the Rays have mashed lefties for a .358 wOBA and .204 ISO at home, so Rodriguez will have his work cut out for him tonight.

Of course, the Rays’ bullpen remains among the best in the business. They ranked third in baseball and first in the AL with a 3.24 ERA on the season with an MLB-leading 3.56 FIP and 7.9 fWAR to boot. At home, that group pitched to a stout 2.32 ERA, good for the best home bullpen in baseball.

Indeed, this Red Sox offense will have its work cut out for them this evening.

Betting Trends

Red Sox

  • Red Sox are 5-1 ATS in their last six games
  • Red Sox are 9-1 in their last 10 playoff games as an underdog
  • Under is 5-1 in the Red Sox last six games on the road
  • Under is 7-2 in the Red Sox last nine games overall

Rays

  • Rays are 5-0 ATS in their last five games
  • Rays are 4-0 in their last four games vs. a left-handed starter
  • Under is 6-1 in the Rays’ last seven games
  • Under is 4-1 in the Rays’ last five home games

Red Sox vs. Rays ALDS Game 1 Pick

To me, we need to go with two picks in this one as I have plenty of evidence for each.

For one, I like the Rays to take Game 1 this evening. While I do like their offense of late and against left-handed pitching, I’m more so looking at a weaker Red Sox road offense off lefties and the combination of McClanahan’s stellar work and an elite Rays bullpen, a group that’s been even better at home.

I also like the Under is this one, The prevailing over/under betting trends for each team largely lean towards the under, and for this one it’s a real possibility.

Rodriguez has been real good on the road this season, as has that Red Sox bullpen that’s been far better on the road than at home. That Rays offense is hitting right now, and to be honest they can score four or even five runs and have the Under his in this one. That’s how much I’m trusting the Rays’ pitching staff in this spot.

So, grab the Rays on the moneyline and the Under 8 tonight from Tampa Bay.

RED SOX VS. RAYS PICK
RAYS
-149
RED SOX VS. RAYS PICK
UNDER 8
-117
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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