Blue Jays at Red Sox MLB Pick and Prediction July 12
Following a 3-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Boston Red Sox will be staying at home to play a 4-game weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Boston enters the series winners of 9 consecutive games overall and still on top in the American League East. The Sox have a 3.5-game lead over the New York Yankees at 65-29 on the season. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, find themselves in fourth place with a 42-49 mark. Already 21.5 games back in the division, it seems as though the Jays should probably start looking ahead to 2019.
J.A. Happ will take the ball for Toronto in the opener against Red Sox left-hander David Price. Both pitchers got off to decent starts this season before struggling a bit more in recent weeks. Happ has allowed at least 3 earned runs in each of his last 4 starts. 2 starts ago, he yielded 7 runs on 10 hits in just 5.2 innings of work against the Tigers. In his last outing, the Yankees chased him after he allowed 6 runs on 6 hits in 2.2 frames.
Happ was named to the American League All-Star roster, but that may have just been because the Jays don’t have a bunch of other deserving candidates, and all 30 teams need to be represented. On the season, the lefty has a respectable 3.65 SIERA along with a strikeout rate of 26.3 percent. The SIERA is about in line with his numbers from the last few years, but his K-rate has taken a hike. I’d expect that to come down as the season progresses. The 35-year-old has a career strikeout rate just over 20 percent.
If Happ thought his matchup last time out against the Yankees was a difficult one, he probably won’t have a lot of fun tonight with the Red Sox coming to town. Boston’s lineup is massively improved over the punchless unit we saw most of last season. In fact, new addition J.D. Martinez already has more home runs this season (28) than any Red Sox player hit all of last year.
Boston’s team spilts have been worse against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching, but that feels like something that will correct itself as we move deeper into the campaign. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are stellar right-handed sticks with histories of mashing southpaws. Happ has been effective against lefties this season, but he has allowed a .315 wOBA to right-handed hitters. Happ has also conceded 16 home runs already, 14 of which have come against RHBs. Fenway Park is also one of the very best hitting environments in all of baseball, particularly for righties.
Like Happ, price has been wobbly of late. He was pummeled for 8 runs on 9 hits in just 3.1 innings of work 2 starts ago against the Yankees. Last time out, the Royals touched him up for 4 runs on 6 hits in 4.2 innings. Price labored through 102 pitches just to get through those 4.2 innings of work in his most recent start.
The left-hander has still flashed decent stuff this season, but he is pretty clearly nowhere close to the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting when they gave him a contract worth well over $200 million a few winters ago. Through 18 starts this season, Price has a strikeout rate of 23.8 percent and a SIERA of 3.98. Those are solid numbers, but Price has just been wildly inconsistent.
Price is also a fly ball pitcher allowing a hard contact rate of nearly 33 percent. That’s a profile that indicates he’s going to be serving up some home runs. Price has already allowed 16 dingers on the year, which puts him on pace to come close to his career-worst mark of 30, set a couple of years ago in his first season in Boston.
The Blue Jays don’t make for an overly imposing offense, but there is still some power in this lineup, and Fenway Park is a good park to take your hacks. The Jays have hit 34 home runs this season against lefties, which is the 10th-most in the major leagues. Justin Smoak, Yangervis Solarte, Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk are all hitters that profile well against southpaws. The lineup is missing the thunderous Josh Donaldson, but there is still no shortage of power potential here.
Oddsmakers slapped this game with an implied total of 9 runs, possibly due in part to the name recognition of both starters. That said, both have been in poor form and both will have to pitch to some powerful, well-rounded offenses here tonight. The ballpark is also favorable to hitters, so I think the over on 9 looks like the play in this one at -115.
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