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Rookie Gets Start For Bosox vs. A’s

Updated: .May 19, 2017

By Charles Jay

The Boston Red Sox had to find a guy somewhere. They have injuries in their pitching rotation, which have caused them to reach down to the Triple-A for their Thursday night game against the Oakland Athletics. Hector Velasquez comes in to make his major league debut as the Sox get ready for a 10:05 PM ET game at the Coliseum. And if you are an America’s Bookie customers, you can take advantage of two different “Live Betting” options in your sportsbook interface, to stay in the action even after they throw that first pitch.

The Sox are the third place team in the American League East, four games behind the New York Yankees. But they can’t contend if their rotation falls apart. Thankfully Chris Sale and reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello are intact, but there have been recent injuries to Drew Pomeranz, David Price and Steven Wright, so that All-Star rotation has thinned out. They were trying to use Kyle Kendrick as a stopgap, but he gave up six runs in back-to-0back starts, so that didn’t work.

And now they turn to Velasquez, who was pitching in Mexican baseball last season, is not necessarily a kid at age 28 and has been very effective for Pawtucket this season, with a 1.55 ERA.

He will oppose Sonny Gray, who the Athletics need in a bounceback if they are going to be respectable. Gray was third in the Cy Young voting just two seasons ago, so you know that he can be extremely potent when he is healthy. The A’s hope they have found that in him.

In the baseball betting odds posted on this game, this game is a pick’em:

Oakland Athletics (Gray) -110
Boston Red Sox (Velasquez) -110

A’s +1.5 Runs -165
Red Sox -1.5 Runs +145

Under 8.5 Runs -120
Over 8.5 Runs +100

Gray’s 2.73 ERA a couple of seasons ago was brilliant, but he has suffered from arm and shoulder injuries since, and it is a project nurturing him along until he regains his All-Star form, if that indeed happens. But one good sign is that Bob Melvin allowed him to throw more than 100 pitches last time out, as he gave up two runs over six innings against the Texas Rangers.

Kendrick wasn’t the only guy the Red Sox have put into the pitching lineup without a big benefit. Roenis Elias, Henry Owens, Sean O’Sullivan and Brian Johnson have also been used, and the Pawtucket guys have compiled a collective 8.30 ERA when they have started with the big club.

Velasquez had an 18-4 record with a 2.37 ERA while pitching for two Mexican teams in 2016, and part of that involved winter ball, which is not all that unusual south of the border. As a result, the Sox did not rush his arm, giving up some short stints in the minors before letting him go more innings.

This is the kind of guy who could cross up an opposing lineup if they haven’t seen him before, because Velasquez is cagey; he has about eight different pitches that he can throw for strikes, and so some hitters may never see exactly the same pitch twice. This happens because he can play with different grips on his fastball and change-up, for example.

Boston has not really found the big power stroke this season, but they do hit .268 on the road, while the A’s are sometimes spinning their wheels on offense. The Red Sox bullpen has also yielded almost two fewer earned runs per nine innings than Oakland’s relievers, so we are perfectly fine bypassing the five-inning (first half) prop and moving with the Red Sox, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues with Thursday night baseball betting.

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