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  1. Alright guys, in terms of “must win” games, this is about as close as they come in mid April. The Sox currently sit 6-8 on the season and are 2.5 games beyond the Royals for 1st place. The good news is the Twins are also off to a sluggish start and have an identical 6-8 record to us. While it’s still super early no doubt, losing the first game of this double header puts us in a tough spot given the fact a less reliable pitcher will likely be starting game 2 (Stiever / Lopez). To eliminate the chance of ending today with a 6-10 record, Keuchel needs to bring his A game, both eating a considerable amount of innings and getting us a win. Unfortunately for us, Dallas is off to a rough start with a 5.44 FIP and xwOBA in the 20th %tile so far on the season. It’s really hard to draw too many conclusions based on three starts, but Dallas is seeing unusual increases in his BB & HR rates and has really been beaten up on his bread & butter sinker. Looking at his Statcast figures, his stuff & movement pretty much look consistent with previous seasons, so I think we’re simply seeing a guy rounding into form after a limited camp. That being said, he does need to figure out his shit and soon. He’ll never be the 1.99 ERA guy we saw last year, but we do need him to consistently give us around six solid innings and that’s critical now more than ever with heavy bullpen workload expected for game two. For the Red Sox will Tanner Houck, a 24 year old former 1st round pick who will making his fifth major league starter. His arsenal is built around his four seamer (92 to 95 MPH) and slider with a sinker also in the mix. The slider is his primary weapon with a nasty 56% whiff rate this year in a small sample size. Sox right-handed hitters are really going to struggle today if they don’t lay off this pitch down & away, which puts even more pressure on our left-handed bats to do some damage. On paper this is a scary matchup despite us facing a rookie, but the Sox have typically played well when their backs are against the wall. If Dallas can improve his command and limit his mistakes, I think the Sox can steal game 1, but that also requires the offense to start hitting with runners in scoring position. Can’t keep throwing away opportunities and expect to win non Lucas / Lance starts. Hopefully today we start seeing some much needed regression to the mean in that area. Let’s fucking go!
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