Tampa Bay Rays (-126) over Boston Red Sox
Investment Advice: Please list both John Lackey and Alex Cobb
Analysis: Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb is one of the best pitchers in baseball as evidenced by his 2.39 ERA and 1.06 WHIP this season, including a 1.91 ERA and 0.92 WHIP at home, a 1.75 ERA and 0.77 WHIP versus division opponents, a 2.01 ERA and 1.06 WHIP at night and a 1.21 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over the last three starts. Cobb takes the mound with an impressive 69/17 K/BB ratio in 75.3 innings of work, including garnering 43 strikeouts in 42.3 innings at home. Cobb’s growth this season is predicated, in part, upon an improved sinker that has handcuffed batters from both sides of the plate. Indeed, batters had a .333 batting average and .523 slugging percentage against Cobb’s sinker last season, but only have a .143 batting average and .179 slugging percentage against it so far in 2013. Cobb’s improved sinker is also evident by the fact that he boasts a 58% groundball rate this season, including a 68% groundball rate over the last month.
Cobb also owns a solid 2.79 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in five career starts against the Red Sox, including limiting Boston to three earned runs or less in all five outings (2012-2013). In contrast, Boston starter John Lackey, who was quietly one of the baseball’s best pitchers in May, owns a career 4.30 ERA and 1.38 WHIP against the Rays. More importantly, Lackey has yielded a combined 23 runs (21 earned) on 39 hits in his last 26 innings pitched against Tampa Bay (6 starts). Overall, Lackey has gone 3-6 with a 7.55 ERA in his last nine starts against Tampa Bay. Lackey is also hampered by a pedestrian Boston bullpen that owns a 4.10 ERA this season, including a 4.13 ERA versus division opponents and a 6.06 ERA over its last seven games. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s bullpen is finally living up to its potential with a 2.35 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over the last ten days, including compiling a 26/4 K/BB ratio in 23 innings pitched.
From a technical standpoint, Boston is a money-burning 27-43 (-20.4 units) versus teams with a win percentage between .540 and .620, 30-56 (-33.3 units) versus starting pitchers with an ERA of 4.00 or less, 68-82 (-29.2 units) versus right-handed starters and 26-33 (-19.7 units) following an extended home stand, whereas the Rays are a profitable 10-2 (+8.4 units) when playing with double revenge and 43-27 (+14.6 units) against a starting pitcher with an ERA of 4.00 or better. With Alex Cobb standing at 6-1 (+4.6 units) as a favorite, 6-2 (+4.0 units) off a loss and 5-1 (+3.6 units) with a total between 7 and 8.5 runs this season, take the Rays and invest with confidence.