It is quite rare that a final score in a Yankees-Red Sox game matters less than it will on Thursday night. After making things interesting with a terrible August, the Yankees have a 6.5-game lead in the AL East with 14 games to go, and Boston is not going to the playoffs. Oh, and there’s the whole Aaron Judge thing.
As you’d expect, most folks are tuning into this game for one reason: to see Aaron Judge try to tie Roger Maris’ American League and Yankee record of 61 home runs in a single season. Judge currently sits at +240 to go deep, which gives him an implied probability of 29.4%.
According to the Action Network, there were more bets on the Judge home run prop than any other bet in Wednesday’s game against the Pirates. You can expect a similar pattern on Thursday night against the Red Sox.
And while there’s no shame in tossing a few bucks down on Judge to hit a home run for some added fun, there’s another bet worth considering on Thursday night.
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Yankees vs. Red Sox odds
Odds provided by FanDuel
Spread: NYY -1.5 (+128) vs. BOS +1.5 (-154)
Moneyline: NYY (-154) vs. Red Sox (+128)
Total: Over 8 (-114) | Under 8 (-106)
Yankees vs. Red Sox prediction
Michael Wacha has been one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox this season, posting a 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and .215 batting average against in 114 innings. Wacha’s record sits at an absurd 11-1 on a team that is four games under .500. And bad news for those looking for Aaron Judge to hit No. 61, the Yankee slugger 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts in 15 career at-bats against Wacha.
Wacha’s 4.07 xERA and 3.90 xFIP do suggest that he’s been aided by lady luck this season, but his StatCast profile is strong enough that those numbers aren’t all that concerning. Wacha ranks in the 70th percentile in average exit velocity and 84th in hard hit rate, so he’s able to get himself out of jams even if he isn’t striking out a ton of batters. The 31-year-old also does a great job of keeping traffic down, as he sits in the 83rd percentile in walk rate.
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Jameson Taillon is a similar pitcher to Wacha. Although his surface-level numbers aren’t as impressive — Taillon boasts a 4.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and .243 batting average against in 158 innings of work — his 4.24 xERA and 3.83 xFIP are basically right on par with Wacha’s.
And like Wacha, Taillon does a splendid job of avoiding walks. In fact, he’s got an even lower walk rate than his counterpart on Thursday night. With two pitchers who do a great job of keeping the basepaths clear, scoring opportunities should be at a premium in this rivalry game.
Sean Zerillo’s Action Network MLB Model projects this game for 7.69 runs, so there’s a smidge of value on Under 8, though it looks like bettors can afford to be patient and see if this total ticks up a bit before first pitch.
Yankees vs. Red Sox pick
Under 8 (-106, FanDuel)