Red Sox Looking For Seventh World Series Title

Wild Card winning Rays going for their first
It took the Red Sox over eighty years to get from title four to title five and only three to get to number six. Now they’re hoping to win their next World Series after finishing in last place in the American League Eastern Division the season before. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Rays, who also missed the playoffs the year before, beat the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card Game. Now they will try to reach their second World Series (2008) and win their first title.

While Boston has known for weeks that they would be in this series, the Rays had to use their three top pitchers in the last three games to make sure they would qualify. Matt Moore beat the Blue Jays to ensure there would be a Game 163, in which Joe Maddon sent David Price to the mound. Price went on to beat the Rangers and on Wednesday Alex Cobb beat the Indians in the Wild Card Game. The Rays do have great pitching, but in this series they won’t be able to match them up ideally to the Red Sox, who can start their ace Jon Lester in Game 1.

If the Price is right..
Looking purely at the offensive threats both lineups pose, you can tell the the Red Sox are the stronger team. This series will be decided by the quality of the Rays’ pitching staff. Will David Price and his fellow starters rise to the challenge? Can they keep the Red Sox hitters in check or will the bullpen falter like it did in the last weeks of the regular season? A regular season in which the Rays went 92-71 ending the season 5.5 games back of the division winning Red Sox (97-65). The Red Sox won the season series with their division rivals 12-7.

Neither team is harmed by injuries but both teams have reached out around the trade deadline to add some players. The Red Sox added starting pitcher Jake Peavy, while the Rays chose to trade for Delmon Young and David DeJesus. DeJesus was a key player in the last few weeks of the regular season and Young showed his value in the Wild Card Game, driving in some very important runs.

Pitching matchups

Like I already said: pitching will be key in this series so let’s have a look at the matchups:

Game 1, Fenway Park, Boston:

Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA)

Purely judging the book by its cover and looking at the stats, you’d give the Rays the edge based on the starting pitchers, but Lester has been really good of late as shown by his 2.19 ERA since August 8th. He has faced Tampa four times this season going 3-1 with one really bad start and three good ones. Moore, meanwhile, has beaten the Red Sox in both starts he made against them, shutting them down in a complete game effort on July 22nd. The Sox are heavy favorites in this first game (-140), but Moore might just be worth a bet at +125.

Game 2, Fenway Park, Boston:

John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) vs. David Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA)

Lackey is one of many candidates for the comeback player of the year award. After missing the entire 2012 season he has come back strong and earned a Game 2 start. In two (road) starts against the Rays he has surrendered 9 runs in 10 innings, though. Red Sox Nation will hope he’ll fare better at home, where he has been remarkably better than on the road during the regular season. Price missed some time due to injuries this year, but is completely back. The reigning AL Cy Young pitched a 2-run complete game his last time out to secure a spot in the Wild Card Game. I’ll give the Rays the edge in this one.

Game 3, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay:

Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA)

Cobb beat the Indians in the Wild Card Game in which he did not give up a single run. He has shown to be ready for the postseason and the pressure it brings along. Clay Buchholz should be the Sox’ nr. 2 starter, but whilst Lackey has fared better at home, Buchholz has been better on the road, for instance beating the Rays with five shutout innings on September 13th. This could be a very close game and might well be the key game in this series.

Game 4, Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay (if necessary):

Chris Archer (9-7, 3.22 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA)

The Rays could also opt to start the slightly more experienced Jeremy Hellickson in this game, even though Archer is the one with the better stats. Peavy, 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA since being traded to the Sox, is not the pitcher he once was. If this is an elimination game for Boston, look for him to have a really hard time in the Trop.

Game 5, Fenway Park, Boston (if necessary):

Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA)

In a Game 5 in Fenway Park, you’d have to be silly to bet against the Sox, especially with their ace on the mound.

Closest Division Series of all

Like I said. If the Rays (+108) pitching staff turns on all cylinders, they have a legit chance to beat the Red Sox (-118), but I think at this point the Red Sox are the better team. They will take the series in 5 games.

Seb Visser

Seb Visser is a former Dutch Major League Baseball player turned baseball writer. He tries to use the insights he gained in his playing days to increase the quality of his articles and help bettors better understand the game of baseball and increase their chance to win their bets.

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