The Boston Red Sox continued their stretch of high-scoring games yesterday, as now all four of their games this season have gone over the total. After taking the loss in the opening game to the Pirates, the Red Sox will look to even the series tonight, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a pitcher strikeout prop in this one.
It was a less-than-ideal start to the season for Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford yesterday as he allowed seven earned runs in four innings of work. The Pirates hit three homeruns off Crawford, with two coming from Bryan Reynolds. Those seven runs became too much for the Red Sox to overcome as they dropped the game 7-6 despite hitting three homeruns themselves and having their bullpen not allow a run in five innings of work.
Boston will turn to Nick Pivetta today on the mound in the hopes he can keep the Red Sox from allowing five or more runs for the fifth straight game. In 2022, Pivetta went 10-12 with a 4.56 ERA and 175 strikeouts. The right-hander has one of the better curveballs in the game, as he is in the 80th percentile in curveball spin; however, he was in the bottom five percent of the league last year in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.
Pivetta will take on a Pirates lineup that, despite putting up a strong performance yesterday, is still hitting .212 on the season. The player that has been doing the most for the Pirates' offense is the same player that has requested a trade numerous times in Bryan Reynolds. Young talent Oneil Cruz has also performed well to start the year and, in yesterday’s game, was able to pick up a double.
On the mound for the Pirates, today will be right-hander Roansy Contreras. The 23-year-old went 5-5 last year with a 3.79 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 95 total innings. Today will be the young right’s first start of the season, and he is coming off a decent Spring Training in which he had 9 ⅓ innings with ten strikeouts and four earned runs.
For my prop play in this one, I’ll be targeting Roansy Contreras over 3.5 strikeouts at (-135) on BetMGM. In 18 starts last season, Contreras went over this total in nine of them, and today he will take on a Red Sox lineup that struck out ten times yesterday.
In 2022, the right-hander was in the 82nd percentile in chase rate and the 64th percentile in whiff percentage. Contreras can really spin his off-speed stuff, which resulted in a .163 batting average against his slider and a .212 average against his curveball last season. The Pirates starter was also in the 80th percentile in fastball velocity in 2022, so he can overpower hitters if needed.
Last season, Contreras also recorded more strikeouts on the road than in his home ballpark. Boston has struck out eight or more times in three of their four games, so this season and Contreras has the stuff that can keep them on that pace. I think we could see a jump in production from the righty if he keeps his walks down this season, so for right now, I think it’s an excellent time to jump on the lower total.
Roansy Contreras Over 3.5 Strikeouts (-135) on BetMGM