The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox won on Sunday, thus taking any “chaos” out of the American League playoff picture as each avoided a Game 163. Instead, the two bitter rivals meet for the third time in a sudden death postseason game. While the other two such games had a lot more on the line as they were game sevens of the ALCS, the winner still keeps their World Series title hopes alive while the loser goes home.
The Red Sox earned homefield advantage for the one-game playoff by virtue of their narrow 10-9 head-to-head season series victory over the Yankees. However, the Yankees swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park last week, which will have them brimming with confidence entering tonight.
Is there value on either team’s moneyline odds, or is the safer bet a play on the over/under?
Here is my best bet for the American League Wild Card Playoff game. (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
The other two:
2003 ALCS Game 7
2004 ALCS Game 7 pic.twitter.com/v9JMVhcWYL
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 3, 2021
YTD: 184-150-8 (+17.61 units)
Yankees-Red Sox OVER 8.5 runs (-105)
The under is likely to be the most popular play for this one-game playoff, as Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (16-8, 3.23) faces the man who has pitched like Boston’s ace all year in Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75). Many questioned Boston manager Alex Cora’s decision to pitch Chris Sale on the last day of the regular season and leave Eovaldi to pitch their playoff game. However, Cora likely figured Eovaldi could give him more innings since Sale had been topping out at 90 pitches and six innings in his starts this season. In addition, Eovaldi has been pretty successful against the Yankees this year, going 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts against them.
Therein lies the issue with taking the under in this game. This is the seventh time the Yankees hitters will see Eovaldi this year, while Cole has made four starts against the Red Sox. Cole has pitched to a 4.91 ERA against Boston this year, and Red Sox hitters have made him work with a WHIP of 1.50 in his 22 combined innings.
New York had a day off yesterday, but their bullpen still has to be feeling the effects of the Rays series to end the regular season. Aaron Boone managed that series like it was the playoffs and used 13 different relievers for a combined 16.1 innings over the three games. Boston’s offense does not come into this game with the best momentum, as they were hitting .226/.303/.389 in their eight games before Sunday. Those numbers are even more concerning considering that five of those games were against the poor Orioles and Nationals pitching staffs. However, the Red Sox had a Major League-best .831 OPS in home games this year, and their 470 runs scored at Fenway Park were 14 more than the next closest team. Do not get too caught up with the fact they are facing Gerrit Cole because the way Boone manages playoff games, he will not have a long leash if he gets into trouble in the middle innings.
The under is 12-3-1 in the last 16 meetings between the Red Sox and Yankees and is 6-1 in their previous seven meetings in Boston. However, these are two tired bullpens that are backing up starting pitchers that are not the least bit unfamiliar to the opposing lineups. These two teams tend to play marathon games, and we should be in for another four-plus hour affair in what will be a higher scoring game than most expect. The Yankees scored just six total runs in their series against the Rays, but Boston’s pitching staff is not on the same level as Tampa Bay’s, especially in the bullpen. New York will do their part in the scoring, led by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who were tearing the cover off the ball before the weekend.
The over is 12-8-1 in New York’s 21 games following an off day, and is 40-39-2 in Boston’s 81 home games. This will not be the low-scoring game many come to expect with playoff baseball.
From @EliasSports: Gerrit Cole is making his fifth career start in a winner-take-all postseason game, tying him with Roger Clemens for the most in major league history. Cole is 1–2 with a 3.09 ERA in his previous four such starts.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 4, 2021
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