MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Date/Time: August 6, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 4.34) vs. CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.54)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: New York -140
Eduardo Rodriguez was five years old when CC Sabathia was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. Rodriguez has just turned eight when Sabathia made his big league debut. On Thursday night, those two left-handers will face off in the season finale between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Rodriguez found life in the big leagues easy over his first few starts, but his fortunes have changed in a big way since. Sabathia is finding out how hard it is to stay effective in the big leagues as his skills decline and his body fails. The Yankees are a comfortable favorite in this one at home.
As hard as it is to believe, the Boston Red Sox were a franchise before the New York Yankees. The Red Sox began play as the Boston Americans in 1901 and the Yankees began in 1903. The Americans won the first head-to-head meeting 6-2 on May 7, 1903. Boston also won the World Series that year with an 83-40 record. Ever since, this has been one of the biggest rivalries in sports and a series in which you can often throw out the records because they don’t really mean anything. That could be some shred of solace for Red Sox fans, who are staring at their third last-place finish in four years.
Eduardo Rodriguez has been a bright spot for the Sox this season, even though his recent returns have not been nearly as good as his early ones. Rodriguez opened eyes in a hurry by posting a 0.44 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 20.2 innings over his first three starts. Over his next nine starts, he has posted a 6.11 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work. In fairness, two really bad starts, nine earned over 4.2 against Toronto on June and seven earned over 1.2 against the Angels on July 20, skew the results, but he hasn’t been as sharp and hitters have made adjustments.
It’s not surprising that Rodriguez has had some struggles because he has a three-pitch arsenal and throws fastballs over 73 percent of the time. Fastball command is the most important weapon for a pitcher and Rodriguez had allowed a .239/.310/.370 slash on fastballs this season, which is pretty good, but certainly not great. His changeup has been his best weapon with a 17.4 percent whiff rate. Rodriguez beat the Yankees prior to the All-Star Break, holding them to two runs on five hits over 6.1 innings at Fenway on July 11. However, the Yankees now have the second-best SLG (.445) against lefties and the second-best wOBA (.339) in the league.
CC Sabathia hasn’t pitched since July 30 after spending a day in the hospital for an illness. The hefty lefty has struggled throughout the season, as his command and velocity continue to tail off. There are a lot of innings on the big man’s left arm and recent knee problems have given him fits from a mechanics standpoint. He was limited to eight starts last season and has posted a 4-8 mark with a 5.54 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and 3.68 xFIP in 20 starts this year.
The xFIP does suggest some positive regression and his control rates are good, with a 19 percent strikeout rate and a 4.9 percent walk rate, but you also have to assume a reasonable level of command to see that regression come through. Sabathia hasn’t shown that since pretty much 2012. Sabathia never gave up more than 20 dongs in a season prior to 2012, when he gave up 22. He gave up 28 in 211 innings in 2013 and is on pace to set a new career high this season with 24 already in 117 frames. The Red Sox are 13th in SLG and 15th in wOBA against lefties. On the whole, the Red Sox offense hasn’t been bad this season, they just haven’t been able to cash in with runners on base, trailing only the Indians in leaving men on base this season.
MLB Prediction: Boston Red Sox
This number is a little bit high, given how much Sabathia has struggled this season. He has been doing a lot of side work to try and fix his command problems and it may simply be his body falling apart. Rodriguez has struggled a bit since his hot start, but a couple of bad starts really skew the data. He’s pitched relatively well in some of those outings and deserves a little bit more credit than what he’s getting.