Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Before the season started, it was assumed that the Los Angeles Angels would be a serious championship contender in the American League, while the Boston Red Sox would probably be on the outside of the playoffs looking in as they tried to rebuild from last year’s disaster. Instead, as we approach the All-Star Break…the roles are reversed!
Boston grades out in many metrics as the best team in the majors…and are certainly one of the best no matter how you slice it. Los Angeles has been a tremendous disappointment…though they’ve picked up their pace recently just in time to give themselves a shot to rally back into contention.
Those teams start a showcase series Friday Night in Anaheim that will get significant media coverage. Sunday Night’s game will be nationally televised on ESPN. Let’s run through the probable pitchers and see how the series may play out.
Boston… Doubront: 4-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
Los An.…Wilson: 8-5, 3.63 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Doubront has thrown quality starts in six of his last eight outings, lowering his ERA from over six to just a shade over four. He’s dominating the way the Sox had hoped, but he’s definitely doing enough lately to get the job done in front of a great offense. They don’t need him to be an ace. They just need him to hold up the back end of the rotation. That being said, he’s still been overmatched by top offenses…and the Angels are finally starting to hit like a top offense.
Wilson didn’t allow an earned run in seven innings vs. Houston in his last outing, nor in seven innings vs. Seattle three starts ago. That’s a big sign of improvement that he can at least mow down bad offenses again. Will he be able to handle Boston? He struggled against them in Fenway, and got hit hard by Detroit in the interim. Big test for whether or not the Angels can surge back into the Wildcard discussion. Wilson has to be in top form for that to happen.
Note that this is a very tough schedule spot for the Red Sox. They had to fly East to West without a day off after hosting San Diego on July fourth. That means this game will start at 10 p.m. body time. Possibly a hidden edge there for the hosts.
Boston… Dempster: 5-8, 4.11 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
Boston was hoping for more from Dempster. He’s just kind of there so far this season. That combined with inconsistent run support has kept him from being a winner in front of this great offense. He’s too high paid to be this generic! The Angels have yet to announce Saturday’s pitcher. Look at the Over here if an off-rotation arm gets the call.
Boston… Lackey: 6-5, 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Los An.…Weaver: 2-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
It’s fantastic news for Red Sox fans that Lackey is putting up ace caliber numbers. Bad luck for him personally that he only has a 6-5 record to show for it. This is truly a championship contender if Buchholz can come back healthy while Lackey posts an ERA around 3.00. He’s thrown quality starts in eight of his last nine outings in the toughest division in the toughest league with his home games in a hitter’s park.
Weaver isn’t back to dominating form yet…but he’s certainly putting up good numbers overall in his month back in the rotation. His last two outings vs. St. Louis and Detroit were very strong because those teams have elite offenses (7 IP, 1 ER allowed in both games). Might be a good spot for an Under here (Sunday Night’s often are because they’re getaway games for at least one team) given the recent form of the starting pitchers and the twilight start.
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this series. He’s also looking at Baltimore/NY Yankees, Detroit/Cleveland, and LA Dodgers/San Francisco for serious action. You can always purchase game day releases right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Remember to ask about 2013 college and pro football when you call.
Speaking of football, we resume our college conference previews this weekend with the MAC. The Mountain West notes ran Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (check the archives if you missed them).
We hope you had an exciting July 4 holiday. Keep the fireworks going with BIG PLAY BOMBSHELLS from World Champion handicapper JIM HURLEY!