Orioles at Red Sox – MLB Pick for May 17th
If the early season numbers are any indication, the Red Sox will be in a dogfight with the Yankees all year long for supremacy in the AL East. Boston was able to avoid a 3-game series sweep at the hands of the A’s on Wednesday night with a 6-4 win to pull to within a half-game of New York in the division. The Sox currently find themselves in second place in their own division despite holding baseball’s second-best overall record at 29-14 entering play Thursday.
Boston will turn around and welcome the Orioles into town for a 4-game weekend set at Fenway Park. David Price takes the hill for the Red Sox against O’s righty Kevin Gausman.
Price has been up and down early on this season. The veteran southpaw is 3-4 with a 4.89 ERA. He recently battled a hand issue that may have stemmed from excessive video gaming (seriously), but he was able to return for a start against the Blue Jays last weekend. He was decent, limiting a solid Toronto lineup to 2 runs on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts in 5.1 innings of action.
With all the injuries he’s endured to this point, it’s fair to wonder whether we’ve seen the last of Price as a legitimate ace. His strikeout rate is down to just 20.9 percent this season, which is bordering on league average. Walks have also been troublesome, as he’s issued a free pass to 10.4 percent of hitters he’s faced so far in 2018.
Price is also allowing a decent amount of hard contact (33.9 percent). He has been solid against his fellow lefties, but righties have teed off to the tune of a .342 wOBA against him so far. A fly ball pitcher allowing plenty of hard contact with a wide platoon split doesn’t necessarily project well against an Orioles lineup chock full of right-handed power hitters.
Price could easily face 9 righties tonight, most of which have pop. Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo, Trey Mancini and Adam Jones makes for a solid group of right-handed hitters.
As for Gausman, he seems to have rounded into form following an inauspicious start to 2018. The 27-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA through 8 starts, and he’s coming off of back-to-back stellar performances. He threw 9 innings of shutout ball against Oakland 2 starts ago before limiting the Rays to a pair of runs in 7.1 innings of work last time out.
One area of concern for Gausman at this stage has to be his strikeouts. He’s historically been a very strong swing-and-miss pitcher, but that seems to have vanished from his game this year. Gausman has a pedestrian 19.8 percent K-rate and his 4.07 SIERA says that the 3.18 ERA is a bit flukey.
Gausman has already allowed 8 homers, as well, and his hard contact rate is higher than Price’s. Tonight’s matchup for Gausman just about couldn’t get any worse, as he’s slated to take on a high-octane Red Sox offense in one of baseball’s most favorable hitting parks. So far this season, Boston ranks first in wOBA (.349) and wRC+ (116) against right-handed pitching.
9 ½ runs is a high total, but I think we get an easy over in this spot. Both pitchers are vulnerable and we have a couple of offenses with plenty of home run power going head-to-head.
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