Rivalry gets different look

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Well, as very apropos for 2020, it was a weird opening weekend here in Total Bases land. All games saw either a weather-shortened conclusion or a change in starting pitchers, nullifying all bets on the initially-announced matchups.

We won’t let that deter our hunt for weekend over/unders, so we’ll get right back to it with another series involving the New York Yankees. It’s a pretty big one, too, with the Bronx Bombers seeing their eternal rival, the Boston Red Sox, for the first time in this pandemic-plagued world.

The script isn’t as familiar, though, as while the Yanks are looking good out of the gate, the opposite has been the case for Boston, largely thanks to horrid starting pitching. As of Tuesday morning, Red Sox starters ranked tied for third-worst in the bigs so far with a 7.02 ERA.

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Struggles were to be expected from a pitching staff that was already missing Chris Sale (elbow), Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) and Colin McHugh (personal). Those growing pains might only increase opposite a dangerous Yankees lineup. Let’s see how the matchups shake out.

Friday

Ryan Weber vs. James Paxton: Weber is part of Boston’s erratic patchwork to a rotation that desperately seeks depth. New York certainly won’t have any mercy and this could be a rough outing for the 29-year-old after he got worked over in his season debut. Weber posted a 7.94 ERA in three starts last year.

On the other side of this series opener is Paxton, someone with a far more reliable track record. But he, too, is coming off a tough first assignment of the campaign. When he’s on his game, Big Maple is one of the best in the game but he still has to get in his groove, apparently. OVER

Saturday

Zack Godley vs. J.A. Happ: Continuing the theme of patching up a pitching staff as the season goes on, enter Zack Godley, who the Red Sox only just signed last week. After a nice debut showing with the team in relief, Godley pretty much returns to a starting role by default. Doesn’t mean he can be trusted.

Happ finally figures to make his 2020 debut after his first start got postponed Monday in light of the potential coronavirus breakout at Citizens Bank Park. It’s always worth noting when Happ takes the hill against the Sox. In 25 lifetime meetings (24 starts), the former Rookie of the Year is 11-4 with a 3.00 ERA. He still has to settle in, though. OVER

Sunday

Matt Hall vs. Jonathan Loaisiga: In his first start of the year on Sunday, Loaisiga was solid while limiting the defending champion Washington Nationals to only one run, albeit in three innings. That’s the role Loaisiga is expected to play, handing the ball off to the bullpen somewhere in the middle of the game.

His counterpart, Hall, just received his first career start on Tuesday — and in a similar capacity. Considering Hall amassed a disastrous 9.48 ERA (!) and 2.07 WHIP (!!) in his two prior years in the major leagues as a reliever, I wouldn’t expect him to open up things how Boston would want. Those Yankee bats should have their way. OVER

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