MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Date/Time: August 4, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Henry Owens (MLB debut) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (7-4, 3.80)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: New York -200
Oddsmakers don’t have a whole lot of faith in Henry Owens and the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night as they open up a three-game series against the New York Yankees. Owens will certainly have a debut to remember, at Yankee Stadium against Masahiro Tanaka, in one of baseball’s most storied rivalries. Owens makes his debut one day before Luis Severino will make his MLB debut for the Yankees on Wednesday. These two proud franchises are in very different positions as this series begins.
The Red Sox are in danger of finishing in last place for the third time in four seasons. Fortunately, their fans can take solace in the fact that they won the World Series in 2013. For a Red Sox team that finished in last place one time from 1933 to 2011, this recent stretch of play is about as bad as it gets in Beantown. At 59-45, the Yankees are in position to end a two-year playoff drought. The last time the Yankees went three straight seasons without making the playoffs was when they went from 1982 to 1995 without playing in the second season. The Yankees were in first place during the strike year in 1994 when play stopped. They made the playoffs in 13 straight seasons from 1995 to 2007.
For some perspective on Henry Owens, he was 13 days away from his second birthday when Alex Rodriguez made his Major League debut on July 8, 1994 at just 18 years of age. Owens was a “sandwich round” selection with the 36th pick out of high school for the Red Sox. He’s a big kid at 6-foot-6 with a lanky frame and a lot of deception. Owens becomes the second left-hander to make his Major League debut this season, following in the footsteps of Eduardo Rodriguez, who threw the ball very well over his first few starts.
Owens finished last season in Triple-A and began this season in Triple-A. Over 21 starts, he won just three games, but posted a strong 3.16 ERA and a 3.68 FIP. He has shown the ability to miss a lot of bats in the minor leagues with two good offspeed pitches and a lively fastball. Most scouts feel like the changeup is Owens’s best pitch and that’s the one that he will need to be effective in Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly dimensions. Owens has only allowed 36 home runs in 518 minor league innings and he’ll need that type of command against the team with the third-best home wOBA and third-best wOBA against lefties this season.
Masahiro Tanaka has stayed relatively healthy this season, but at what cost? The Yankees hurler has only been worth 1.1 wins above replacement player per Fangraphs this season over his 14 starts. Below average command has been the biggest problem, with 15 home runs in 87 innings of work. Tanaka missed the entire month of May as elbow problems crept up again, but he has tried to gut it out rather than lose a year to Tommy John surgery. Tanaka has allowed three home runs in a game three times already this season.
He hasn’t been nearly as dominant this season as he was last season. The control numbers and the velocity are basically still there, but his high strand rate from last season has regressed and the increase in home runs has definitely had an impact. Tanaka allowed 15 home runs in 136.1 innings last season. He has allowed the same amount in 87 innings this season. By xFIP and SIERA, Tanaka has pitched better than his traditional metrics and FIP would indicate, but as I’ve said before, that’s assuming average or better command. Tanaka doesn’t have that right now for whatever reason.
MLB Prediction: New York Yankees
Don’t lay the high price in this game. I have to give a pick, so it is what it is, but the under looks like a good way to approach this one. Owens has some deception and a good arsenal. He may be a little bit hyped up in the first couple of innings, which is probably where the Yankees will take advantage, but after that, he should settle in. Tanaka has good enough stuff to get by against a Red Sox lineup that hasn’t done much most of the season.