The Orioles opened their season against the Red Sox in Boston last week, and today the two teams will tangle in Baltimore. This will be the O’s home opener, and they come into this game at 4-2 on the year. Baltimore swept the Red Sox at Fenway over the weekend before dropping two of three in the Bronx earlier this week.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have bounced back. Boston was able to sweep the Rays in three games after being swept by the Orioles in their first series to pull back to .500. The Sox will have left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound today, while the O’s counter with Matt Harvey. This will be Rodriguez’ first regular-season start since 2019, while it will be Harvey’s second start against the Red Sox already this season.
Rodriguez has dealt with no shortage of injuries over the course of his career, but last year he had to battle COVID. The left-hander missed the entire season due to complications from the virus, but he is reportedly back to 100 percent heading into 2021. He pitched a simulated game earlier in the week, so it seems likely that Boston will keep him somewhat limited in his first start in quite some time today.
Rodriguez has been a quality pitcher over the years. The lefty has a career 23.8 percent strikeout rate at the major league level with an 8.3 percent walk rate. There’s no telling how deep into the game he’ll pitch today, but 80 pitches seems like a reasonable expectation. The Orioles don’t have a terrible lineup, but this is still an exploitable matchup for E-Rod. Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini are the only hitters in the Baltimore order that have above-average track records when it comes to hitting for power against left-handed pitching.
Eduardo Rodriguez says he’s 100% ready for tomorrow. Excited for his first start since Sept. 2019.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) April 7, 2021
What happens after Rodriguez leaves the game is another matter entirely, however. Boston had one of the highest bullpen ERAs in the majors a season ago (5.79), but the relievers have fared quite a bit better to begin the new campaign (3.25). It’s still early, so take those numbers with a grain of salt, but perhaps Boston’s relief corps won’t be nearly as disastrous as it was in 2020.
Red Sox vs Harvey
Matt Harvey was once one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball, but injuries have derailed his career. He has bounced around the league over the last handful of years without pitching well enough to stick anywhere. Harvey hasn’t posted a strikeout rate north of 20% since 2015, which was his final season before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome.
Since then, he has become a below-average starter in just about every regard. Harvey had a 15.4 percent K-rate in limited duty with the Royals last season, and he hasn’t finished with a SIERA below 4.00 since ’15. At this point, he’s just a guy. Harvey allowed a couple of runs on six hits in 4.2 innings of work against this same Red Sox lineup in his first outing of the season last week.
Matt Harvey, 94mph Fastball…and gets the fist pump from Severino. pic.twitter.com/A7rSeI92sG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2021
Facing the same offense twice in a row is typically tough on pitchers. This Red Sox lineup won’t be mistaken for the 2018 iteration any time soon, but there is still plenty of talent here. J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts are three of the most potent hitters in baseball, while Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, Christian Vazquez, and Bobby Dalbec give this lineup some solid depth.
Frankly, there is no reason to expect Harvey to enjoy much success in this spot. Camden Yards isn’t exactly Fenway when it comes to its friendly confines, but it’s still one of the best home run parks in all of baseball. Boston should have no trouble putting runs on the board this afternoon.
What’s the Best Bet?
Rodriguez may have to deal with a bit of rust in his first start in nearly two years, but I still have higher expectations for him than I do for Harvey. Boston’s lineup showed signs of waking up in their most recent series against the Rays. Tampa Bay still has one of the best pitching staffs in the league, so the Red Sox could have a field day against Harvey and a much more vulnerable Baltimore bullpen.
The top online betting sites have the Red Sox listed at even money to cover the runline (1.5) here, which is excellent value. If Rodriguez pitches up to his caliber, Boston should cruise to their first road victory of the year in this game. Bet Boston to cover the runline at +100.
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