It’s New York and Boston round two today, but the first bout that will involve the newest Yankee ace Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese phenom has exceeded just about everyone’s expectations three starts into his New York career with an unblemished record and a silly 14:1 strikeout to walk ratio. And Masahiro-san carries the momentum of back-to-back double-digit strikeout games into Fenway Park. He will need to be as great as he’s been because the Red Sox counter with Jon Lester, who has been every bit as good as Tanaka early on. This will be Lester’s fifth start of the season and his numbers are Cy Young-like in April. An ERA around 2.00 and a WHIP hovering above 1.00, combined with Tanaka’s line suggests neither side will breakthrough on offense and Vegas’ total reflects as much. The game is a pick with a total of 7.5.
Tanaka has been sensational 22 innings into his career, yes. But 22 innings just isn’t enough to make him an untouchable fade. Before his last start against the Cubs, Tanaka had been giving up about a hit an inning and looked a lot less unbeatable than his numbers appear now. But all of the early season numbers have such little relevance in the grand scheme of the entire season. The reason I like Boston tonight is because of the situation Tanaka will be up against. He’s coming into Fenway Park and into the Boston/New York rivalry with these gaudy numbers and really no place to go but down. Pressure will be high on Tanaka and it’s pressure that can really only negatively affect him. The line is set as if he will spin another great start so the way I see it is he’ll either respond extremely well and pitch well enough to make this a coin flip game in the later innings or he’ll fold a little bit in a spot where many more pitchers before him have folded and this will be a cake walk win for Jonny Lester.
Neither offense is at full strength so I certainly expect a pitcher’s duel here – or at least a strong start from Lester. He may be a top-5 consistent starting pitcher in the Big’s as far as going out, getting his six innings and holding the opponent to one or two. The Red Sox know that and will approach accordingly on offense. Tanaka’s control is pretty impeccable and has only walked two batters to date but he hasn’t faced an offense that will work that count like Boston will. And that can frustrate even the most diligent of arms. Even if he doesn’t walk many batters, Tanaka won’t go deep into this game. The deck is stacked against he and the Yankees. Boston is absolutely the play here.
Free Pick: Boston PK (-110)
2014 YTD: 8-1 +7.00