MLB
October 4, 2021

2021 AL Wild Card Preview: New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox

Life is just so much better when the New York Yankees (92-70) and the Boston Red Sox (92-70) clash in the postseason. What makes this matchup more special is that it is the first time these two teams will play in the AL Wild Card round. With the season series favoring Boston 10-9, it has been a very competitive year for baseball's best rivalry. 

In this winner-takes-all battle, it is both Game 1 and Game 7. That kind of drama mixed with pure hatred should make for a fascinating matchup. 

Here's our preview for the AL Wild Card Game, including our prediction. 

Odds & Spread

Via FanDuel Sportsbook

Moneyline: Yankees -122 | Red Sox +104

Runline: Yankees -1.5 (+130) | Red Sox +1.5 (-156)

Total: 8 – Over: (-114) | Under: (-106)

Gambling Trends

Via Oddsshark

  • The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the Red Sox's last 8 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 6 of the Yankees' last 7 games when playing on the road against the Red Sox.
  • Red Sox are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.
  • Yankees are 5-1 SU in their last 6 games on the road.
  • Yankees are 6-0 SU in their last 6 games against the Red Sox.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Yankees: Gerrit Cole: 16-8, 3.23 ERA, 181.1 IP, 243 SO, 5.6 rWAR

The Yankees paid Cole all that money to be their ace for games like this. 

Even though he has been solid for the majority of the year, Cole has been tattooed by the Red Sox all season long. In his four starts against the Red Sox, Cole has a 4.91 ERA in 22 innings. It doesn't help that Cole's struggled recently. 

In Cole's last 17.2 innings pitches, he has been lit up for 15 earned runs and a whopping 7.64 ERA. If he continues his poor stretch, the Yankees will be one-and-done in the postseason.

The Yankees will need Cole to eat up some innings so they don't have to turn to a shaky bullpen early. If he can settle in nicely, the Yankees have a good shot.

Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi: 11-9, 3.75 ERA, 182.1 IP, 195 SO, 4.6 rWAR

In his career against the Yankees, Eovaldi has a 3.64 ERA in 71.2 IP, and he has a 2.01 ERA against the Yankees this season. However, in his last start against the Yankees on Sept. 24, he was chased after 2.2 IP and allowing seven earned runs. That is not a sign of how he has been pitching lately, as he holds a 3.04 ERA in his last 10 appearances, including that nightmare against the Yankees.

At Fenway this season, Eovaldi has a 3.47 ERA in 19 starts. He also has a WHIP of 1.123 and a SO/9 of 9.24. While Cole is certainly the better pitcher, Eovaldi has been great at home this season, and the Red Sox have the clear edge as of right now.

Advantage: Red Sox

The Lineups

Yankees:

Both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have hit 10 home runs since the start of September and are big reasons the Yankees were able to clinch a playoff spot.

In the last series of the season between the Yankees and Red Sox, Stanton drove in 10 runs and hit .583. His OPS at Fenway this season sits at 1.103 and the Yankees will rely on him to continue his hot streak.

Against Eovaldi, Judge has hit .400 with three extra-base hits. Anthony Rizzo, with a small sample size, is hitting .555 with three doubles off Eovaldi this season. It will be up to the Yankees' big bats to beat Boston. As a team, the Yankees have a slash of .238/.322/.407 with an OPS of .729. Although they have the talent, their offense, as a whole, has been very underwhelming this year.

If Stanton or Judge do not deliver, they need guys like Joey Gallo, DJ LeMahieu, and Gary Sanchez to chip in. Luckily for the Yankees, despite their underwhelming seasons, these guys are a threat to blow any game open.

Red Sox:

The Red Sox have the third-best lineup in all of baseball. They have a collective slash of .261/.328/.449 with an OPS of .777. It is clear that the return of Alex Cora as the manager put a spark in this team.

Their trio of J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers is among the best in the league. They have collectively hit 89 home runs and have 291 RBI on the season. They are the driving forces of the Red Sox lineup, but they are hardly the only players that have produced at the plate this season. Even with Martinez questionable for this game, the Red Sox still have the better lineup.

Newcomers Hunter Renfroe and Enrique Hernandez have really filled out this lineup. On the season, Renfroe has hit 31 home runs and has 96 RBI while Hernandez has a slash of .250/.337/.449 with an OPS of .786. Hernandez is also among the six Red Sox batters with 20+ home runs on the season. While Kyle Schwarber has 32 home runs on the season, only seven have come with the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have mashed the Yankees for 75 runs, 18 home runs, and a team slash of .241/.296/.388. The Red Sox have the better offense, so they have the edge when they are at the plate.

Advantage: Red Sox

Prediction:

The Yankees are on a hot streak right now, and they just beat the Red Sox at Fenway last month. However, the Red Sox are more talented on paper, and on the field. The Yankees have the talent advantage on the mound and in the bullpen, but in Fenway this season, Cole has gotten lit up. Both teams are starting to heat up so this could be a great game. Even though the Yankees have won six straight against the Red Sox, this is a classic Aaron Boone-led Yankees let-down spot.

This game is going to come down to what breakdown first, the Red Sox lineup or the Yankees pitching. With the Yankees only having a slight advantage with their pitching, the Red Sox have a better chance at winning, so we will take the Red Sox. 

Final Score: Red Sox 6, Yankees 3

Photo: Getty Images