The Boston Red Sox (69-63) saw their AL Wild Card hopes take another big hit thanks to a disastrous bullpen meltdown against the Houston Astros (75-58) on Monday night. Now these two playoff hopefuls will square off again in game two of this three-game set from Fenway Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. It’ll be a battle of rookie righties on the mound, with Houston’s J.P. France (9-5, 3.51 ERA) going up against Boston’s Brayan Bello (10-7, 3.56).
The Red Sox enter as -122 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Astros at +102. The run total is set at 10.5.
Astros-Red Sox picks: Tuesday, August 29
Out: INF Grae Kessinger (health and safety protocols), OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery)
Out: RP Brennan Bernardino (health and safety protocols), OF Jarren Duran (left toe contusion)
J.P. France vs. Brayan Bello
France has been one of the feel-good stories of the 2023 season, a 14th-round pick turned AL Rookie of the Year dark horse after injuries thrust him unexpectedly into Houston’s rotation, but Red Sox handed him easily his worst start in the Majors last time out. The righty got lit up for a whopping 10 runs on 11 hits in just 2.1 innings in a loss to Boston last week, raising his season-long ERA from 2.75 to 3.51. The righty had been the picture of consistency prior to that blowup, allowing three runs or fewer in every one of his starts since the beginning of June.
Bello was the recipient of all that run support, cruising through seven innings of one-run ball to pick up his 10th win of the year. The righty did give up nine hits and three walks over those seven frames, though, and he’s been a bit shaky since his sensational start to 2023, with a 1.52 WHIP so far this month. Bello’s changeup is devastating (.181 BA against, 41.3% whiff rate) but he’s yet to find a consistent arsenal behind it.
Bello has been walking a bit of a tightrope of late, and I think he comes crashing down against an Astros lineup that just put up 13 runs in Monday night’s win. Both of these lineups have been top-10 units over the month of August, and both pitchers’ contact-friendly styles don’t mesh well with Fenway Park — a place that loves turning otherwise-harmless batted balls into hits. After 18 runs in the opener, I’m backing the over again here.
Pick: Over 10.5
Last week’s implosion notwithstanding, I still have slightly more trust in France than Bello based on how they’ve been throwing the ball recently. Combine that with all of Houston’s firepower at the plate, and this one feels more like a coin flip than the moneyline makes it out to be — so I’ll grab the team with the better odds.
Pick: Astros +102