Boston Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale is making a lot of Red Sox fans happy with his impeccable 1.38 ERA and 0.74 WHIP this season, and that success should continue against a Minnesota Twins lineup that is averaging just 3.9 runs per game versus left-handed starters (.319 OBP; .701 OPS).
Behind Sale’s ERA are elite 12.42 K/9, 1.58 BB/9 and 0.39 HR/9 rates. Equally impressive is Sale’s 1.44 FIP, 2.14 xFIP and 2.12 SIERA.
Sale has become nearly impossible to predict under the tutelage of Boston’s pitching coaches. He is throwing his fastball less than he has in years (61% last year with the White Sox vs. 45.8% this season).
Sale’s first-pitch fastball rate has dropped 19 percentage points and has declined nearly 20 percentage points when batters are ahead in the count. The result is increased usage of his plus-slider (which rates better than Jacob deGrom’s) and plus-changeup (which rates better than Stephen Strasburg’s).
The 28-year-old is backed by a solid Boston bullpen that owns a 2.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this season, including a 2.01 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in day games and a 2.14 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over its last seven games. Conversely, Minnesota’s middling bullpen enters today’s contest with a 4.29 ERA, including a 4.19 ERA at home and an 8.10 ERA in its last seven games.
Minnesota right-hander Ervin Santana leads the Majors in ERA (5-0, 0.66 ERA), although his 4.14 SIERA is far more predictive of his future results. The veteran hurler is ripe for regression based on his unsustainable .141 BABIP and 99.2% strand rate (are you kidding me?!).
Santana is 5-6 with a 5.11 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in sixteen career starts against the Red Sox. The Twins are a money-burning 5-17 in Santana’s last 22 starts versus teams with a winning record, including 1-8 in his last nine starts at home.
Minnesota is also 17-35 versus American League East opponents, 15-37 versus .501 or greater opposition and 21-44 at home versus teams with a winning record.
With Boston standing at 6-0 in game 3 of a series and the Twins losing their last five game 3 situations, take the Red Sox and invest with confidence.
Free Sunday Funday MLB Pick is a play on the Boston Red Sox (list pitchers).
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