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Odds and Ends

Best Bets for AL Wild Card Game

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: October 5, 2021, 10:15 am ET

We've arrived at the AL Wild Card game, with the New York Yankees visiting the Boston Red Sox following a month of intense competition for the two spots in this contest. With another chapter of the greatest rivalry in sports comes an intriguing game to bet on. Without further ado, let's get right down to the best way you can profit on Tuesday night. 

New York Yankees (-125) vs. Boston Red Sox (+105) Total: 8

After a season which saw the Yankees and Red Sox each win 92 games, it's a damn shame that their fates are decided by a one-game playoff. It'll be incredible television, though, and it will give us a chance to see the very best bullet from each team.

Sadly, Boston doesn't have arguably its best starting pitcher to throw with Chris Sale going in the final game of the regular season on Sunday. Though Tuesday's starter, Nate Eovaldi, will surely get some Cy Young votes, his dominance has wavered with a 3.72 ERA in August and a 3.94 ERA in September. Eovaldi comes into this start just one outing removed from allowing seven runs to these New York Yankees right here at Fenway Park.

In his career, there are certainly teams Eovaldi's wanted to face outside of the Yankees. In six starts, his ERA stands at 3.71 against New York, with one seven-inning gem in the ALDS back in 2018 where he allowed one earned run.

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Eovaldi features a fastball and curve primarily; the fastball has been hit at a .312 clip this season, and the Yankees ride in at 12th in pitch value against the fastball in the second half. Against the curve, they rank third. 

The Red Sox may also be in a bit of trouble if they have use their bullpen, considering they have a 4.07 ERA over the last 30 days with a 4.49 xFIP. While the Yankees are not too much better with a 3.97 ERA, they own a 3.77 xFIP indicating their luck should turn around here.

The bullpen should be the primary focus here, considering Gerrit Cole has looked very pedestrian since his injury. He enters here off of three awful outings in a row, giving up seven earned runs against the Indians on Sept. 19 before allowing three over five innings to the Red Sox and yielding five over six frames in Toronto. New York will be leaning on that 'pen mighty early.

Boston's offense owns a 116 wRC+ over the last 30 days, ranking fifth in the league, while the Yankees lag behind with a 102 wRC+. Still, as we saw against Baltimore, this offense is hardly easy to trust.

With Cole and Eovaldi struggling, I like a play on the over here, but with the considerably stronger bullpen the Yankees should have the edge in the matchup.

Edge: Yankees -125, Over 8

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.