According to the odds, the Boston Red Sox’s second series of the 2016 Major League Baseball season could end up being a preview of the American League Championship Series.
While it’s obviously way too early to tell if the Bovada odds that peg the Sox and the Jays as the AL favorites have any merit, that fact doesn’t make Boston’s first division matchup Friday any less interesting. It might not end up being a battle of the AL’s best, but on paper, it matches up the AL East’s top dogs.
The Red Sox, despite a last-place finish, were pests to the division-winning Blue Jays in 2015. Boston was 10-9 against Toronto overall and won four of their six series. And the Red Sox won most of those games while the Blue Jays still were battling the New York Yankees for the division title.
This year, the Red Sox and Blue Jays are two very different teams. Toronto lost its second-half ace David Price to Boston, and the Red Sox did plenty of offseason work and have shuffled their lineup to make themselves a more formidable club. But honestly, anything goes when it comes to AL East faceoffs.
The pitching matchups were more interesting before rain postponed Thursday’s Red Sox-Indians game — including a scheduled matchup between knuckleballers Steven Wright and R.A. Dickey as well as Price’s return to Toronto — but the series might still be a shootout. Joe Kelly has only started twice at Rogers Centre, Wright never has and Rick Porcello has a 7.39 ERA there. Of the Blue Jays’ three starters for the series, only Marcus Stroman has good numbers against Boston at 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA.
Then, there’s David Ortiz, who has more home runs at Rogers Centre (39) than any other ballpark outside Fenway Park. In fact, no opposing hitter in baseball history has more home runs at the stadium formerly known as SkyDome than Ortiz.
Crummy Cleveland weather means the Red Sox have only played two games so far — a win and a loss — and the Blue Jays split their four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. With the season being just a week old, both teams still are relatively blank slates, but you can still expect this division series to be just as intense as a midseason matchup.
Thumbnail photo via Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts hits a double during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports