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Red Sox-Rays ALDS Pitching Matchups

CBS Boston logo CBS Boston 10/7/2021 Syndicated Local – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox will begin their ALDS battle with the Rays on Thursday night in St. Petersburg. Boston only had one day to get down to Florida after ousting the Yankees in the Wild Card game, and skipper Alex Cora had only one day to sort out his rotation for the upcoming series.

There’s still some sorting to do, as Cora has only named his Game 1 starter. But it’s easy to surmise how the rest of the rotation will shape out for the best-of-five series.

Game 1 — Thursday, 8:07 p.m. at Tropicana Field

Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8, 4.74 ERA) vs. Shane McClanahan (10-6, 3.43 ERA)

Cora named lefty Eduardo Rodriguez as his Game 1 starter on Wednesday.

“He has been throwing the ball well. We think it’s a good matchup,” Cora said. “Obviously with them, you have to mix and match. They’re going to look for an advantage and all that. We’ll have Nick in the bullpen tomorrow, and we’ll do what we do.”

Rodriguez had an up and down 2021 season, but he did make 31 starts. He finished somewhat strong in September and October, going 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA over six starts and one relief appearance. He made two starts against the Rays during that span, and though he was roughed up for six runs over 3.2 innings at Fenway, he did toss six shutout innings at the Trop on Sept. 2.

He’ll be opposed by rookie Shane McClanahan, who led the Rays with 141 strikeouts. The lefty was 1-1 in his three starts against Boston, holding Sox hitters to a .246 average and just one extra-base hit. His most recent outing against Boston came on Sept. 8 when he tossed five shutout innings but earned a no decision in a 2-1 Red Sox win.

Game 2 — Friday, 7:02 p.m. at Tropicana Field

Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16) vs. Shane Baz (2-0, 2.03)

Sale hasn’t been officially named Friday night’s starter, but he will very likely toe the rubber for Boston. Game 2 is five days after he last pitched, which did not go so well as Sale only lasted 2.1 innings against the Washington Nationals in the final game of the regular season. While he fanned seven Nats, he didn’t have his usual command, walking three. Sale also allowed four hits, surrendering a pair of runs in his brief outing. In his start prior to that outing, he was hit with a loss against the Orioles after allowing three runs over 5.1 innings.

Overall, Sale was pretty good for a guy coming back from Tommy John surgery. But he’s going to need to be great against the Rays.

He’ll be opposed by rookie Shane Baz, who has a whopping three starts in his MLB career. The 22-year-old made his debut on Sept. 20, and gave up just three earned runs over his three trips to the mound. He won his first two outings, tossing five innings of two-run ball against the Blue Jays, and following it up with a nine-strikeout performance over 5.2 innings against the Marlins. He went just 2.2 innings against the Yankees in his final start, but that was mostly because Tampa had a 7-1 lead in the third inning.

Game 3 — Sunday, 4:07 p.m. at Fenway Park

Drew Rasmussen (4-0, 2.44) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75)

Neither of these guys have been named starters yet, but this is probably the matchup we’ll get when the series shifts to Fenway Park over the weekend.

Rasmussen was acquired by Tampa from Milwaukee in May and made 10 starts and 10 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rays. He was 1-0 against Boston, making three starts and two relief appearances. He surrendered four runs off 13 hits and four walks while striking out 15 over his 15.2 innings against the Sox.

We really don’t have to say much about Eovaldi. He was Boston’s best starter this season, and is fresh off a solid 5.1 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees in the Wild Card game. He was dealing on Tuesday, striking out eight. Nasty Nate was 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in four starts against his former team during the regular season, punching out 31 Rays over 26.1 innings.

A potential Game 4 is set for Monday in Boston while a deciding Game 5 would be Wednesday night in St. Petersburg.

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