Boston is MLB Betting Favorite Against Pittsburgh on Thursday

Posted by Michael Hunt on Wednesday,April 5, 2017 11:03, EST in

It’s the finale of a good interleague three-game series on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Pirates, who might contend for a wild-card spot in the NL this year, visit the Boston Red Sox, who are the MLB betting favorites to win the AL pennant. Boston will be favored here as well.

Pittsburgh at Boston MLB Betting Pick & Prediction

When: Thursday, April 6, 1:35 PM ET
Where: Fenway Park, Boston
Probable pitchers (away/home): Chad Kuhl/Eduardo Rodriguez
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream: MLB.tv
RadioPittsburgh / Boston
Opening MLB Lines: TBA

Why Bet On Pittsburgh?

Since the start of the 2012 season, the Pirates have posted the fourth-best winning percentage (.540) in the National League and the fifth-best in MLB behind St. Louis (.570), Washington (.565), the Los Angeles Dodgers (.562) and Baltimore (.548).

There are 12 players returning from last year’s Opening Day roster. Only two players (Phil Gosselin and Daniel Hudson) will be wearing black and gold for the first time, compared to nine last year. The average age of the current active roster is 28.2, compared to 29.6 in 2016, 28.4 in 2015, 28.3 in 2014, 28.6 in 2013, 28.4 in 2012, 27.6 in 2011 and 28.3 in 2010. There are four rookies on the squad (Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Alen Hanson, Trevor Williams). The oldest player on the roster is Chris Stewart (35) and the youngest is Tyler Glasnow (23).

Chad Kuhl take the mound for the Bucs. After a solid debut last year (4.20 ERA in 14 starts), Kuhl solidified a rotation spot with a strong spring. The Pirates believe the power sinkerballer is capable of more, especially if he rediscovers his high Minor League ground-ball rate.

Relying on his heavy sinker and slider, Kuhl, 24, made his Major League debut last year and pitched well enough to become the favorite for one of the two remaining spots in the Pirates’ rotation this year. But he wanted to add another wrinkle, something that would keep opposing hitters from sitting on his other two pitches. So with the blessing of pitching coach Ray Searage and senior pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell, Kuhl experimented with his grip. He moved his fingers behind the seams and removed some pressure, trusting the ball to move instead of forcing it.

“It’s another thing to go to. It’s a weapon,” Kuhl said. “They can’t just cancel it out. They can’t just eliminate one pitch. That makes it a ton easier than it being a coin-flip between fastball and slider, just having that third pitch and having it be a weapon.”

Kuhl sees Boston for the first time.

Why Bet On Boston?

The Red Sox return each of their top 5 leaders in runs scored and each of their top 3 leaders in hits from a 2016 offense that paced the majors in runs (878), AVG (.282), OBP (.348), SLG (.461), and OPS (.810). Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts each have 388 hits since the start of 2015, tied for the majors’ 2nd-highest total in that time (Jose Altuve-416).

It’s Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston. After starting last season on the disabled list, the promising lefty will be there from the outset this time around. Rodriguez will try to improve his performance at Fenway after going 0-4 with a 6.02 ERA in nine home starts last year.

Rodriguez finished 2016 on a high note, posting a 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 24.6 percent strikeout rate in 14 starts, and with that lineup supporting him, he should win more often in 2017. The final pieces of his development are consistent health and executing pitches with the precision that is needed to be one of the best.

“He’s got probably as good a stuff as anybody in our rotation,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “The potential is clearly there. He has shown flashes of it and stretches of that type of performance. Our job, including Eddie's, is for him to gain some consistency. He can be as big a winner as any other guy in our rotation.”

After a solid rookie season in 2015 (10-6, 3.85 ERA), it went bad from the start last Spring Training for Rodriguez, as he sustained a subluxation of his right knee in the early portion of camp and wasn’t himself until July. Rodriguez has never faced the Pirates.

Pittsburgh at Boston MLB Betting Pick: Boston Red Sox

Not much of an edge in pitching either way, but Boston’s lineup is much better.