After a wild finish to the MLB regular season, we’re blessed with MLB’s best rivalry to determine the American League Wild Card winner. You’ll find my value bet for Yankees vs. Red Sox within the AL Wild Card odds, along with the top sportsbook promos for the matchup.
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AL Wild Card Odds: Gerrit Cole’s Injury Still Lingering?
On Sept. 7, Gerrit Cole left the mound against the Blue Jays after tossing 3.2 innings and allowing two earned runs. He was diagnosed with hamstring tightness, but no MRI was required.
Before that outing, Cole was yielding a 37.5% hard-hit rate, which ranked No. 23 among 43 pitchers with a minimum of 138.1 innings pitched. It’s increased 6.3 percentage points since then (ninth-highest), and his opponents’ barrel rate has also spiked 3.2 percentage points.
A barrel is defined by a ball that’s hit at an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. Essentially, lineups are pounding Cole of late. Plus, if you exclude the pitiful Orioles, his hard-hit rate sits at 49.2% during this span— with a 14.4% barrel rate.
Now, that isn’t to say these are the lone determining factors for a starting pitcher’s success. Blue Jays’ ace Robbie Ray, who was the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award, led all of baseball in opponents’ hard-hit rate and tied for the second-highest barrel rate allowed.
But those numbers prove that Cole’s production has dipped considerably since the injury, trickling beyond the sticky stuff investigation. Juxtaposing Cole and Nathan Eovaldi, who’s opposing Cole in AL Wild Card odds, the latter has only allowed a 6.3% barrel rate this season.
Not only is Boston well-versed against Cole, but the lineup is also best-suited to take advantage — even if slugger J.D. Martinez (ankle) doesn’t play.
The Red Sox are tied with the Yankees for the league’s hardest hit rate (42.4%) while placing second in barrel rate (9.9%). They have the third-lowest strikeout rate as well.
Market Perception Surrounding Cole
Bettors haven’t been afraid to back Cole since he suffered the injury. Over his last four starts, the Yankees have been roughly -230 favorites.
Even though two of those outings were against the Orioles and Indians, Cole was a -120 favorite against the Red Sox on Sept. 24. Hence, you’re essentially being taxed an extra five cents because it’s Cole and the Yankees in a playoff game.
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Red Sox Bullpen Adds Major Reinforcement, But Can You Trust Them?
Boston ranks No. 17 in expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP) since removing Matt Barnes from the closer role on Aug. 25, but it’ll have reliever Garrett Whitlock available for this do-or-die matchup. Whitlock was activated from the injured list on Sunday after suffering a pectoral strain on Sept. 21.
The righty has a 5.7% walk rate, tied for 20th best among relievers with at least 50 innings pitched, and he boasts an above-average strikeout rate of 27.2%.
Cora will likely use Whitlock once Eovaldi exits, and he’ll need to get creative beyond that. Relievers Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards and the aforementioned Barnes have all struggled, forcing Cora to go with starter Nick Pivetta to close out Sunday’s win versus the Nationals.
Nevertheless, I’ll take the value in the home underdog. There shouldn’t be any limitations on who Cora goes with late.
How I’m Betting the 2021 AL Wild Card
Eli’s Bet: Red Sox +105 moneyline (DraftKings — placed at 10pm ET on Monday, Oct. 4)
Eli’s Stop Point: Red Sox +100 or better
Caesars Odds Boost: Red Sox +175 ($25 max bet; available in VA, MI, IN, AZ) BET NOW
Best Available Line: Red Sox
Best Yankees-Red Sox Sportsbook Odds Boosts
- BetMGM: Red Sox win and over nine runs scored (+333)
- FanDuel: Yankees to win by 1-3 runs (boosted from +190 to +230)
- BetRivers: Aaron Judge and Rafeal Devers combining for over 2.5 hits and over 1.5 runs scored (+620)
- PointsBet: Aaron Judge to record a hit and the Yankees win (boosted from +125 to +145)
Caesars Sportsbook Odds Boosts (Max $100 Bet)
- Rafael Devers To Hit A Home Run And Boston Red Sox To Win (+500)
- Yankees Shutout Win vs Red Sox (+1000)
- Giancarlo Stanton And Joey Gallo Each To Hit A Home Run (+1100)
- Yankees Win & Cardinals Win vs Dodgers on Oct. 6 (+450)
- Boston Red Sox 2021 World Series Winner (+1700)