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Boston, Tampa Bay Renew Rivalry at Fenway Park; Bedard Faces Lackey

Tampa Bay southpaw Erik Bedard was released by the Rays earlier this month after top prospect Jake Odorizzi won the team’s final rotation spot. Despite looking for suiters following his release, Bedard could not find work anywhere, which is not surprising in light of his recent results.

Erik Bedard’s Results:

2012: 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.47 WHIP
2013: 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.48 WHIP

The most alarming aspect of last season was the fact that Bedard was 1-9 with a 6.08 ERA and 1.73 WHIP on the road (15 starts). He also struggled in April wherein he was 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA and 2.21 WHIP. On the heals of those results, Bedard arrived in Tampa Bay this year looking to earn a rotation spot for the Rays. However, Bedard reverted to old form in spring training where he garnered a 6.88 ERA and 1.82 WHIP, including allowing 13 earned runs on 25 hits in 17.0 innings of work.

It appeared as if Bedard would be looking for work outside of baseball following his release (no other team wanted him), but Matt Moore’s injury gave Bedard a second chance. In an act of desperation, the Rays signed Bedard to a Minor League deal in March and sent him to Triple-A Durham where be belonged. The 35-year-old veteran was called up on April 18 and has looked inept ever since. Specifically, Bedard owns a 7.45 ERA and 2.06 WHIP over 9.7 innings pitched, including a 9.39 ERA and 2.21 WHIP in two starts (7.7 IP; 8 ER; 11 H; 6 BB; 6 K).

When Bedard faced Boston at Fenway Park last April, he yielded five earned runs on eight hits in just three innings pitched. Bedard is also hampered by an under-achieving Tampa Bay bullpen that owns a 4.54 ERA and 1.37 WHIP on the road and a 5.19 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over its last seven games. In contrast, Boston relievers continue to perform extremely well as evidenced by their 3.07 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 2014, including a 2.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP at night and a 2.98 ERA and 1.34 WHIP versus division opponents.

Meanwhile, Boston right-hander is coming off one of his best outings of the season wherein he allowed one run in eight innings against the Yankees (11/0 K/BB rate). One of my favorite things to do is invest on Lackey at Fenway Park where he was 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP last season ( vs. 4-10 with a 4.48 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the road). Lackey is off to another solid start at home this season where he is 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, including posting a 22/6 K/BB rate in 20.3 innings of work. I also like the fact that Lackey had a 2.61 ERA and 1.26 WHIP last April so he is a quick starter to a new campaign.

From a technical standpoint, Tampa Bay is a money-burning 13-31 (-16.6 units) as underdogs, including 9-27 (-17.0 units) as road underdogs and 1-12 (-10.7 units) as road underdogs of +125 to +175. Conversely, Boston is a profitable 56-27 (+24.4 units) following a loss and was 12-7 against the Rays last season. Take Boston and invest with confidence.

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