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ALDS Game 2 between the Rays and Red Sox prediction and pick for Friday night's game from MLB handicapper Matt Zylbert. Which side of the total is he on?

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Prediction and Over/Under Pick for Game 2

Over/Under 7.5

First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET (FS1)

Probable Pitchers: Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA) vs. Shane Baz (2-0, 2.03 ERA)

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Prediction

Rays vs. Red Sox Game 2 Odds

Boy, the Rays never have a problem scrapping plans together, and that’s what they’re doing in the first two games of their American League Division Series.

Last night, it was rookie Shane McLanahan thrown into the fire for the opener, and he really couldn’t have responded better, clocking out after five shutout innings to fuel Tampa’s Game 1 triumph. Now it’ll be fellow freshman Baz, he of just three career outings to his name.

These are really tough variables to encounter; someone not only making their first-ever start in the postseason but as a rookie. McLanahan blossomed and made it seem fairly easy, but it’s really not. And in Baz’s case, he’ll be doing it with such little experience at the Major League level.

But that’s OK. Look at who will be dealing on the other side — Sale — and for a total bet, simply hanging around should suffice.

We’ve already seen eye-opening potential from Baz in his aforementioned three assignments, hence why he accumulated an 18-3 K/BB ratio across just 13.1 innings. Two of those starts involved dangerous tasks of taming real hard-hitting offenses that reside in Toronto and the Bronx — and he limited each to two runs or fewer.

Even though it’s more unlikely that he won’t go beyond five frames, that’s OK, too, given the strong pen looming behind.

And as alluded to, it’s really the other counterpart that figures to lead the way for a low-scoring affair. Sale silenced any doubters pondering how the left-hander would look upon his August season debut after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Not only did he mostly look sharp, but Sale also appeared to pick up where he left off two years ago in ace form by notching a 3.16 ERA and 10.97 K/9 across his 42.2 innings.

Best of all, as it pertains to this particular date, Sale will be seeing a familiar opponent against whom he’s had a ton of success against. Emphasis on the words “a ton.”

In 22 lifetime meetings (20 starts) opposite the Rays, Sale holds a desirable 2.93 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. But looking even deeper, the most glaring stat out there in Sale’s dominance of Tampa Bay is the 188 strikeouts he has in 132 total innings.

Uh, that’s an absolutely absurd 12.82 K/9!

Try accomplishing that with one pitcher against the same team in a video game within the same extended sample size, and you’d have a tough time — on an easy level.

Furthermore, this is just a constant thing about Sale’s history when facing the Rays, as in every time he sees them. Before landing on the sidelines due to injury, Sale had ten starts against the Rays since joining the Red Sox before the 2017 season, and in all of them, he struck out at least eight batters. Half of them were even double-digit strikeout performances.

Now, as close as he’s been to full strength since returning, I’d expect to see more of that version of Sale in such a huge spot. Factor in the Rays’ tendency to strike out a hearty amount opposite lefties in the last few years, and Sale will be in control.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Prediction

2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*:

Regular season: “88-73-10,” +6.39 unitsPostseason: 1-0, +0.5 unit

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit (playoffs 0.5 unit)


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