Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Game 1 Pick
The Red Sox survived a wild-card game Tuesday night but now run into the best team in the American League when they open a best-of-five divisional-round playoff series with the Rays Thursday night down in Florida.
Tampa sends lefty Shane McClanahan to the mound to open this series against fellow southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez for the Sox.
How are we playing this game with our free pick?
MLB Playoffs Betting Odds
The MLB baseball playoffs betting lines opened Tampa Bay at around -160 for this ALDS opener, with an over/under of eight runs. Early betting action then dipped the Rays about 15 cents, to around -145.
Red Sox-Rays MLB Betting Preview
Boston reached this ALDS by beating the Yankees in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night 6-2. The Red Sox finished their regular season last weekend with a three-game sweep of Washington that secured a playoff berth and home-field advantage for Tuesday night’s game. So Boston rides a four-game winning streak into this series.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, clinched the No. 1 seed in the American League with a week to spare, then finished last weekend by taking two of three games from the Yankees, who needed wins.
So the Rays, the defending American League champions, are back in the playoffs for the third straight season.
This year, Tampa finished eight games ahead of Boston in the AL East standings and took the season series from the Red Sox 11 games to eight.
Game 1 Pitching Match-Up
By our strict standards, McClanahan only hit 4/25 on quality starts this season, but some of that was due to a short leash. He pitched to within three outs or less of a QS eight times this season, only to get pulled. Last Friday, he allowed one run and three hits through three innings of a 4-3 Tampa win over the Yankees, and over his previous four outings, he allowed only three runs and 14 hits through 18 innings.
The Rays are 15-10 when McClanahan starts this season, 2-0 his last two times out.
Over three starts this season against Boston, McClanahan gave up five runs and 15 hits through 16 innings. Tampa played 1-2 in those games.
Rodriguez hit 8/31 on quality starts this year, but while he's also 0 for his last three, he's actually done well. Last Sunday, in a must-win game against Washington, Rodriguez pitched one scoreless inning of relief and got the win when the Red Sox rallied to victory. And over his last five appearances, he allowed just five earned runs and 22 hits through 21 1/3 innings, with eight walks against 26 strikeouts.
Boston played 19-12 with Rodriguez this year, and while they're only 2-3 over his last five outings, that's not his fault.
Over four starts this season against the Rays, two good, one iffy, and one bad, Rodriguez gave up 11 ER and 23 hits, including four homers, through 21 total innings. Boston split those four games.
Splits With the Sticks
Boston batted .264 against left-handed pitching this season, with a .329 team OBP and a .429 team slugging percentage. But JD Martinez (28 HR, 99 RBI this season) missed the wild-card game Tuesday with a bad ankle and is listed as questionable for Thursday night.
Tampa slashed .247/.322/.421 against left-handed pitching.
The Red Sox bullpen posted a 3.99 ERA this season, along with a 1.39 WHIP and a 2.37 K/BB ratio.
The Rays pen put up a 3.24 ERA, which ranked No. 3 in the Majors, a 1.14 WHIP, which ranked No. 2, and a 3.36 K/BB ratio, which ranked No. 1.
- Get more details: Boston at Tampa Bay Match-up Stats
MLB Betting Trends
Boston played 43-38 on the road this season.
Tampa played 52-29 at home.
Boston played 35-31 against left-handed starters this season.
Tampa played 38-27 against LH starters.
Unders played 84-72 in Red Sox games this season.
Overs played 84-71 in Rays games.
Overs played 12-7 in Red Sox-Rays games this season.
Unders played 39-38 in games played at Tropicana Field this season.
Red Sox vs. Rays Prediction Game 1
We give McClanahan the edge in the pitching match-up, and Tampa owns the better bullpen. Al-so, while Boston might own an advantage with the sticks, it might also be without one of its best. So we like the Rays for our free baseball betting pick for Thursday.