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World Series odds update: Are the Red Sox for real?

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

April 17th, 2021

After suffering a series sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles to begin the 2021 season, the Boston Red Sox went from looking like a fringe playoff candidate to a punchline. But the Red Sox righted the ship in short order, reeling off nine straight victories before dropping the series finale against the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, on Thursday afternoon.

The Red Sox opened the campaign at +5000 to take the Fall Classic, but have since fallen to +3300. Are bettors right to be encouraged by Boston’s strong start, or is it fool’s gold? We’ll investigate below.

World Series 2021

Tue, November 2 2021, 11:00 PM

Los Angeles Dodgers

+325

New York Yankees

+600

San Diego Padres

+800

New York Mets

+900

Chicago White Sox

+1100

Atlanta Braves

+1100

Houston Astros

+1600

Minnesota Twins

+1800

Oakland Athletics

+2000

Tampa Bay Rays

+2000

Martinez is mashing

Though he’s not the only Red Sox batter producing at what’s likely an unsustainable pace (Xander Bogaerts is batting .370, Christian Arroyo .313), the driving factor behind Boston’s early success at the plate has been J.D. Martinez.

Many were quick to write off Martinez following a disastrous 2020 in which he hit .213 with only seven homers and 27 RBI. But he’s bounced back in a big way this season, as he currently leads baseball in doubles (seven) and RBI (16) while batting .378. And that comes despite being held hitless in Minnesota.  

Eovaldi, Pivetta among pleasant pitching surprises

Boston was unable to weather the loss of both Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez last season, but there was hope for improvement in the rotation with at least the latter in the fold. Rodriguez has done his job thus far, producing a 3.60 ERA and 1.000 WHIP while striking out 12 through 10 innings.

What bettors and oddsmakers weren’t counting on was outstanding production from Nate Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta. The former is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP through three starts, while the latter (who owned a 5.50 ERA in four seasons with the Phillies) has won both his starts while producing a 3.27 ERA.

The Boston bullpen has upped its game as well, authoring a 3.35 ERA – the seventh-best mark in the majors – through 51 innings.

The rotation will only improve if and when Sale returns from Tommy John surgery. He went under the knife last March, so a return by the All-Star break isn’t unthinkable.

AL East ripe for the taking

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but the AL East appears up for grabs early in the season.

The Red Sox are currently the only team above .500, with the Tampa Bay Rays (6-8) suffering a World Series hangover, and the New York Yankees (5-8) falling well short of expectations thus far.

The Toronto Blue Jays (6-8) have been the victims of some early bad luck with injuries in a season where they needed just about everything to go right. The Orioles – a respectable 6-8 so far – are still rebuilding and can’t be expected to contend.

Conclusion

After just about everything went wrong for Boston in 2020, it seemed like a stretch for them just to make the playoffs in 2021. But the bounce-back kings (won the World Series in 2008 after a .500 campaign, and the 2013 World Series after a 74-win season) could conceivably bottle this strong start and capitalize on their division rivals’ misfortune. The +3300 odds are fair at this point.

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