Alex Verdugo got things started off for the Boston Red Sox with a lead-off home run Tuesday night in DC, and the Red Sox beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 in the series opener. Boston moved to 63-56 with the win and the Nationals fell to 53-67.
Tonight, in Game 2 of this three-game series, it’ll be two lefty starting pitchers on the mound as James Paxton opposed Mackenzie Gore. Paxton is 7-3 in 15 starts for the Red Sox while Gore is 6-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 23 starts for the Nats.
The fourth place Red Sox are favored on the road in this one.
Red Sox vs. Nationals odds, run line and total
Red Sox vs. Nationals prediction and pick
The Red Sox obviously have the better lineup, but the Nationals lineup sets up so well against left-handed pitchers. Washington is eighth in the MLB with a .772 OPS against lefties and they have 35 home runs. Lane Thomas and Stone Garrett both crush left-handers like Paxton while the Red Sox are league average with a .750 OPS against left-handers like Gore.
Ultimately there isn’t that big of a gap between No. 8 in OPS and No. 15, but since July 1 the Nats have a .795 OPS which is a little bit better and starts to create some separation. The issue for Washington comes on the mound.
Gore was very bad last time out and has an xERA of 5.18, which is the 13th percentile in baseball. Gore has a barrel rate of 12%, which falls in the fourth percentile in baseball, so he gets hit very hard very often. He’s allowed 21 homers this year including three last time out. He also has a walk rate of 10% and an expected batting average of .264, so it’s not as if the bases are clear when he gives up a longball.
Since July 1, the Nats also have a bullpen ERA of 5.20, so even once Paxton is chased, things aren’t going to get much better. James Paxton has been great for Boston and has an xERA of 3.32. So, while Paxton has the tougher lineup to face, he’s the better pitcher and I’ll trust that in this matchup.
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