AL Wild Card Playoff Picks -- Sox' Eovaldi Seeks to Neutralize Yankee Power at Fenway

  • In Charles Jay
  • Tue, Oct 5th, 2021 7:44:28 pm
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

Gerrit Cole gets the start for the New York Yankees against Nathan Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in the American League wild card game at Fenway Park.

It was exciting, but the kind of excitement the New York Yankees probably could have done without. They were very close to having to engage in a play-in to get to a play-in to get to a wild card game.

But then Aaron Judge came up with the first walk-off base hit of his career to beat Tampa Bay, and the Yankees are headed to Beantown for the AL wild card game against the Boston Red Sox, which is sort of a play-in also, when you look at it.

But at least they avoided a four-way tie for those wild card spots.

Fenway Park provides the scene, and ESPN will televise the game at 8:08 PM ET.

In the AL Wild Card Playoff odds at BetOnline, the Yankees are laying a price on the road:

New York Yankees (Cole) -134
Boston Red Sox (Eovaldi) +124

Yankees -1.5 Runs +118
Red Sox +1.5 Runs -138

Over 8 Runs (-104)
Under 8 Runs (-116)

There wasn't a whole lot that was special about the Red Sox starting rotation this season, at least not until Chris Sale finally came back from his injury. But Nathan Eovaldi, the former Yankee who had a 14-3 record for the Bronx Bombers in 2015, was the All-Star from that rotation, and he gets the start.

Eovaldi won eleven games this season - only the second time in his career that he has been in double figures - and was the American League leader in Fielding Independent Pitching (a rather important metric) as well as fewest walks per nine innings.

He was also fourth best in the majors in keeping the ball in the park, allowing just .740 homers per nine innings. And against a Yankee team that is very dependent on power, this is critical.

Eovaldi got beat up by the Yankees at Fenway less than two weeks ago (seven runs in 2-2/3 innings), but that is really an outlier, as he had a 2.13 ERA against them in the four prior starts against them.

Gerrit Cole brings power to the table from the pitchers' mound. Cole was third best in the major leagues in strikeouts per nine (12.06) and he had to endure the after-effects of the MLB ban on "sticky" substances, which appears to have affected him at some point.

Manager Aaron Boone feels fortunate that he found himself in a position where he didn't have to disrupt his rotation, and as a result, Cole is starting with five days of rest.

However, Cole did not exactly come down the stretch with a flourish, chalking up a 6.14 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in his last five starts. With five days of rest, he has a 2.70 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.

So you might get the prime-time version. But that doesn't hide the fact that he is something of a different pitcher when he's at Fenway.

In six career starts, he's got a 5.06 ERA and the opponents have registered a .868 OPS. This year the Red Sox hit .302 against him there, with five homers and eleven earned runs in 16 innings.

So while it may seem like some good fortune that he is available for this - and frankly, you wouldn't really consider anyone else from the Yankee staff - he's a little closer to ordinary at this venue.

And close to ordinary isn't enough to get it done. We'll take the home dog.

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