The Boston Red Sox take on the New York Yankees Friday night at Fenway Park to kick off the ALDS, and a handful of experts have already picked the Sox to win it all. Here’s what MLB experts think of Boston’s chances in the playoffs:
Joel Reuter, Bleacher Report: “The Boston Red Sox offense has been a juggernaut all season. They led the majors in runs scored (876), batting average (.268) and OPS (.792), while also climbing from 27th to ninth in home runs (208). While there has been some shuffling of the batting order throughout the season, the four guys who have settled into the top spots have all enjoyed excellent seasons: Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.
“On the pitching side, a return to front-line form from David Price is also a major plus. And while the bullpen has gone through some ups and downs, if they can carry a lead into the ninth inning, Craig Kimbrel is still one of the best in the business at slamming the door. Chris Sale saw a significant dip in his velocity after returning from a stint on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, and the Red Sox can’t afford to have their ace at anything but 100 percent. Meanwhile, the back of the staff behind Sale and Price will consist of Rick Porcello and either Eduardo Rodriguez or Nathan Eovaldi. All three pitchers are capable of pitching well, but the rotation as a whole doesn’t compare to that of the Astros or Indians. Odds: 9/2.”
Charlotte Carroll, Sports Illustrated: The Red Sox have the second-best odds to win it all, after the Houston Astros, at +340.
Heather Tucker, USA Today: “Red Sox over Dodgers in 6. Boston set a franchise record for wins with 108. While that means little now, what matters is the Red Sox’s lineup, which has proven difficult to shut down with sluggers Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez leading the league in average (.346, .330 respectively). The Dodgers needed 163 games to settle the NL West and looked shaky coming down the closing stretch. Their vaunted pitching staff – led by ace Clayton Kershaw – won’t be able to handle Boston’s firepower.”
Alex Rodriguez, ESPN: “Two things concern me tremendously about the Red Sox. Obviously it’s their big guy Chris Sale and his health. His last start before he got injured, his average fastball was 98 miles-per-hour. Last night, 90. That’s an 8-mile-per-hour difference. Very concerning and the weather is getting cooler, meaning it should be more challenging, not easier. And then number two, for all of their starters, they have 19 career postseason starts, zero wins. So for them it’s pitching, so it’s not a home run by any means for the Red Sox.”
Chris Abbott, Odd Shark analyst: “I would caution bettors against betting on Boston to win the World Series. The Red Sox, while coming off a phenomenal regular season, have a huge weakness in their bullpen. Boston relievers have allowed 70 runs, 17 home runs and a 4.84 ERA since the beginning of September, worst among the American League playoff teams. Further, Chris Sale doesn’t appear to be fully healed and is having trouble getting his velocity up as he enters the playoffs. And, of course, there’s the elephant in the room: Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello have a combined zero playoff wins between them.”
Jack Dickey, Sports Illustrated: “Red Sox over Dodgers in 7. What L.A. and Boston share is power from both sides of the plate (each team had its league’s highest slugging percentage), the ability to get on base (the Dodgers’ team OBP, .333, was third in baseball; the Red Sox, at .339, were first), bullpens on which you might not want to bet your rent money, and a history of recent postseason disappointment. It comes down to the rotations then, and I’d give Boston’s the slight edge, prior playoff struggles aside. It’ll be close, though.”
Alex Reimer, WEEI: “The Red Sox are favorites to advance against the Yankees in the ALDS, coming in at -145. While that’s not a big surprise, considering the Sox won 108 games this season, it speaks to the pressure they’re up against this month. Failing to advance to the ALCS for the third straight year would be a colossal underachievement, and likely lead to pressure being applied to Dave Dombrowski. In terms of World Series odds, the Red Sox are second, at 15/4.”
Bovada: +325, tied with Houston for the best odds to win it all.
Westgate: 3/1, best among all MLB playoff teams.