The Boston Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon on the final day of regular season action.
MLB betting can always be tough towards the end of the season when playoff positioning is locked in and motivation matters. With that in mind I'm avoiding betting on postseason-bound Tampa Bay and looking instead at Boston and its players, who have been playing for nothing but pride since being officially eliminated last week.
Here are my best free Rays vs. Red Sox MLB picks and predictions for October 5.
Rays vs Red Sox best odds
Rays vs Red Sox picks and predictions
The Red Sox were officially eliminated from postseason play 10 days ago but they've been in a tailspin since July. That hasn't dimmed the play of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who leads the team in batting average (.305) while ranking second in total bases (252).
Bogaerts had been in an 0-for-11 drought at the plate until he hit a grand slam last night to lead the Sox to a 6-0 rain-shortened victory against the Rays.
Bogaerts should be in a good spot for more offensive success today with the Rays trotting out lefty Josh Fleming. The 26-year-old has pitched just 30 1-3 innings in the bigs this season and has a 6.23 ERA with opposing batters slugging .522 against him. Fleming also has a history of struggling against right-handed hitters while Bogaerts is slashing .375/.465/.567 against southpaws in 2022.
The four-time Silver Slugger also hits better at home than away with a slugging percentage of .502 at Fenway as opposed to .407 on the road.
I like the Over 1.5 on Bogaerts' total bases prop and I also love the Over 1.5 on Nick Pivetta's walks total.
The Red Sox starter has struggled with his control all year and ranks second-last in the majors among all qualified pitchers with 3.59 walks per nine innings.
Pivetta has walked at least two batters in 21 of his last 24 starts and has issued a total of seven walks in his last two outings. Tampa Bay's hitters don't do the best job of making contact but they are patient and rank 12th in the majors in walk rate.
My best bets: Xander Bogaerts Over 1.5 Total Bases (+120)
Nick Pivetta Over 1.5 Walks (-110 at bet365)
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Rays vs Red Sox moneyline analysis
After losing last night for their fourth defeat in a row, the Rays are locked into the sixth seed in the American League and a wild card date with the Guardians.
They have nothing to gain from today's contest and it will be interesting to see if they rest any players from a lineup that is already struggling to produce. Tampa Bay is just 25th in the majors with an OPS of .684 with that number plummeting to .584 over the last 15 days.
The Rays have been winning thanks to their pitching staff but they'll likely rest their most important arms today and tomorrow, especially after seeing reliever Colin Poche injure his back last night in a meaningless game. To that end, they'll rest the previously scheduled Drew Rasmussen and hand the ball to the mediocre Fleming, who was added to the taxi squad on Monday.
The Red Sox have had issues with their pitching all season long and will start Pivetta today. The veteran started the year off pretty well but has struggled since the start of July, pitching to a 6.11 ERA with a 1.67 WHIP and an OBA of .298 in his last 16 starts.
Boston's bullpen has also been brutal ranking dead-last in the majors in ERA (5.64) and wOBA (.344) since the All-Star break.
Thankfully for Boston bettors, the Red Sox have at least been productive at the plate, where they are third in the majors in batting average (.257) and ninth in OPS (.730).
Rays vs Red Sox Over/Under analysis
Last night's game ended after five innings and with a high probability of rain today, we could see more messy weather in Beantown.
Fleming hasn't been in the bigs much this season but he had two outings against the Red Sox in July and surrendered a total of 14 hits and seven earned runs across eight innings.
Pivetta pitched a gem on the road against Tampa Bay last month but was shredded in his previous two starts against the Rays, giving up five runs in five innings on August 28 and allowing seven runs in 5 2-3 innings on July 5.
Both of these starters have been awful and the Red Sox can mash, but it's tough to trust Tampa Bay's lineup in a game that doesn't matter.
After all, even away from pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field, the Rays have been awful at the plate this year with an OPS of just .673. They've also been held to one run or fewer in six of their last nine contests averaging a paltry 2.33 runs per game over that span.
Rays vs Red Sox trend to know
The Over is 18-7-1 in the last 26 meetings between these teams in Boston. Find more MLB betting trends for Rays vs. Red Sox
Rays vs Red Sox game info
|Location:||Fenway Park, Boston, MA|
|Date:||Wednesday, October 5, 2022|
|First pitch:||4:10 p.m. ET|
Josh Fleming (2-4, 6.23 ERA): The 26-year-old has pitched to a 1.91 WHIP with an OBA of .343 in just 30 1-3 innings this season while posting a 3.06 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP in 64 2-3 innings at Triple-A. The lefty logged 104 1-3 innings in the bigs last year and had an ERA of 5.09. Fleming did put together a strong performance in his last MLB outing, throwing four innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays three weeks ago.
Nick Pivetta (10-12, 4.56 ERA): The 29-year-old right-hander has a 4.38 FIP with a 1.37 WHIP. Pivetta has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last four starts, pitching to a 6.64 ERA with a 1.77 WHIP over that span.
Rays vs Red Sox latest injuries
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Rays vs Red Sox weather
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