Today we will take a trip to the American League wild-card race and preview an AL East showdown between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in Beantown. With Gerrit Cole going against Nate Eovaldi to open the three-game set between the two rivals, in which everything is on the line, fun is sure to ensue. We’ll go over the MLB odds and give out our MLB pick at the top-rated sportsbooks.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
Friday, September 24, 2021 – 7:10 PM EDT at Fenway Park
The Yankees have had a strange second half of the season. They started off red-hot, seemingly unable to lose with new additions like Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, but their numbers didn’t really tell that same story. The Yankees were experiencing a power outage, and their day of reckoning would be just around the corner.
Then, a long cold streak seemed to throw cold water on a team that was surely playoff-bound, eventually taking them out of first place in the wild-card standings. With some great hitting and the help of some bad opponents, the Yankees have put themselves right back in the race.
Now, New York sits in the second wild-card spot, two games behind Boston, which it will face for three games this weekend. It’s also just one game clear of Toronto in third place. With just nine games to play, this is the biggest series of the season.
New York comes in with the fifth-best wRC+ in the last two weeks, posting a league-best .247 Isolated Power. That’s an absolutely incredible number, as are the 30 homers it has hit, and a testament to the quality contact this team has been making. The Yankees own the best barrel rate in the league over that 14-day period at 12.3% and have made hard contact at the second-best rate, checking in at 45.7%.
On top of all that, the Yankees now have Gerrit Cole going. He’s coming off a seven-run disaster against Cleveland, but prior to that, he’d really figured things out. Over a six-start span, he had pitched to a 1.35 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. That is dominance personified. He’s also started three times against Boston, posting two solid starts and one clunker, when he was in the midst of a slump.
Rounding Back Into Form
There was a time where the Boston Red Sox were arguably the best offense in baseball, and entering September that seemed like a distant memory, like the Cardinals’ status as NL Central leaders or the Tigers’ early brilliance. Well, good times are here again. Boston can lay claim to the league’s third-best offense over the last two weeks, judging by wRC+, even better than the Yankees’ fifth-place mark.
The Red Sox have struck out in 23.8% of their plate appearances over that span, though, supplying power with a .221 ISO. It’s been an all-or-nothing approach for Boston, who could run into a bit of trouble against a high-strikeout guy who rarely allows homers like Cole. The Red Sox also carries a high .338 batting average on balls in play into this one, indicating luck is about to turn around in the other direction.
Starting this game for Boston is Nate Eovaldi, who has been excellent in five starts against his former team this year with an ERA hovering around two runs. He, too, is a high-strikeout guy, but against a Yankees team failing to strike out much lately, things could get a bit dicey for the hard-throwing righty.
Eovaldi does enter with fantastic numbers against the Yankees this season, but it’s not as if he hasn’t struggled against New York in years past. Given this matchup, Eovaldi’s poor form, and the Yankees’ propensity for the longball entering a hitter-friendly park, I think this could be the makings of a big win for the Bombers. Cole has regained his dominant stuff of late and should get back to it with a team swinging and missing at a lot of pitches.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.