While Houston and Cleveland battle for the top spot in the American League, Boston looks just about locked into the three-seed. The Red Sox’ lead in the AL East actually shrunk to three last night but the Yankees have done that before. Boston has found a way to keep them at arm’s length for the better part of the second half and should keep it that way when we turn the calendar into October.
The Red Sox have had some trouble with lefties this season, despite a lot of right-handed bats and some impressive left-on-left hitting by Andrew Benintendi. Last season, Chris Young raked against left-handed pitching; this season he has been terrible. That has something to do with it.
But Boston is also fifth in the Major Leagues in stolen bases, which is like another team doubling the rest of the league. The Red Sox have not had a team that runs this much in most fans’ lifetime. That running game slows considerably against a lefty.
Sean Manaea has logged nearly 150 innings in his rookie season but he has remained strong, at least of late. Manaea has given up eight runs in just under 24 innings of work over his last four starts. His WHIP is still down around 1.30 and ERA still under 4.50. He beat Boston with five innings of five-hit, two-run ball in Oakland back on May 20.
Eduardo Rodriguez took some time to get his footing in July after coming back from a few weeks on the Disabled List but he’s been pretty good ever since August. He started the month with six innings of two-run ball against Chicago but didn’t win; he followed that with six shutout innings against the Yankees and didn’t win; he went another six in his last start against Toronto and gave up two runs but still didn’t do enough to win in a game that finished in the bottom of the 19th.
Run support has been a problem for Rodriguez and I think it could be again tonight. Meanwhile, Oakland just swept Houston in four straight over the weekend and features some impressive young, right-handed power that few Red Sox fans have heard of. They put up 41 runs in four games against some pretty good pitching against those ‘Stros.
Free Pick: Oakland +1.5 (-130)