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ALCS Preview: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox

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The Astros (#2 seed) face off against the Red Sox (#1 seed) for the American League Pennant and another chance at winning it all

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

ALDS Bias

Houston

The Astros arrive in Fenway after flexing their muscles to sweep aside the hapless Indians, who have now lost 9 straight elimination games in the postseason, an MLB record that you want no part of. They did it with strong hitting and dominant pitching, outscoring Cleveland 21-6.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Alex Bregman would have an absolutely bonkers series, slashing .556/.714/1.333 with 4 walks and 2 homers in 9 AB. Both of his big boys would come off of a pair of the best pitchers in the AL Central, Kluber and Bauer. Springer has also looked more like the World Series MVP, pounding out 3 home runs and 6 hits in 14 AB. White and Gonzalez join Springer at the top of the mountain with a 1.333 and 1.264 OPS, respectively, though Marwin saw a few more pitches. Tony Kemp has also looked really good in his one appearance, batting out of the 9-hole in the DH spot.

Altuve was more steady than explosive, though he did put one in the seats during Game 1. Reddick has also been having reliably good at bats, driving in a couple on 4 hits. Correa, who is still battling a back injury, would get on on base at a .308 clip, though he would also flip his only hit of the 2018 postseason out of the park in Game 3. Yuli has also been a low-average, decent-OBP guy so far this year.

After that the only player who has produced anything has been Maldonado, who banged a home run in Game 1 before becoming a defensive catcher the rest of the way. Gattis, Marisnick, and McCann would all go 0-for-ALDS while Myles Straw would not bat in his one appearance, though he did net himself his first stolen base in the postseason, so congratulations to him.

The bullpen has been mostly on point in the postseason, with only Will Harris recording an ER on his ledger, who got burned by a walk during a garbage 9th inning rally against Cleveland. Though Pressly wasn’t tagged with an earned run, he did allow two of Verlander’s inherited runners to score after a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice, but would wiggle out of the inning with the lead.

Those were the only two hiccups as McCullers and Osuna both looked good in their appearances, with each allowing base runners but managing to get out of it. Osuna would record the only save of the series.

McHugh deserves special mention, coming in during Game 3 and shutting down Cleveland’s lineup with 2 perfect innings and 4 K’s.

Red Sox

The Red Sox return home after polishing off the Yankees in four, including two wins in the Bronx. Boston’s offense had some solid innings in the games they won and would also completely annihilate Yankees pitching with a 16 run beat down in Game 3. Their bullpen would make some of the games closer than I’m sure Cora would have liked, but wasn’t a complete and utter disaster.

Of course the player with the best single game in the DS would be Brock Holt, who was the first player in the postseason to hit for the cycle, which he did in the only game he would appear in. Christian Vazquez turned in excellent results as the dominant portion of the catching platoon, logging a 1.067 OPS and a home run in 10 PA. J.D. Martinez was the only other player with an OPS around 1.000, getting 5 hits and belting a homer while driving in 6 and walking 3 times in 14 AB.

Ian Kinsler and Andrew Benintendi were the most effective players after that, each playing in all 4 games. Benintendi looked slightly better in spite of having slightly inferior numbers, but mostly due to Kinsler striking out in more than half of his AB. Bogaerts and Steve Pearce were both solid contributors this week, the last of Boston’s lineup to post an OPS over .750.

That was surprising out of a few players, with Mitch Moreland the best at .667 before leaving a game with an apparent injury and uncertainty surrounding his return in the ALCS. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradly Jr. were the only remaining players to at least enjoy a .300+ OBP, with everyone else seeming to take the ALDS off.

As for Boston’s bullpen, it’s had a couple of heartbeat moments, with stashed starter Eduardo Rodriguez giving up 3 runs to the Yankees and Brandon Workman looking wobbly in his two brief appearances. The big name who has struggled the most is super closer Craig Kimbrel, who has given up 3 runs in his 2 outings, one in the first and two in the second, but managed to record the save in both.

After that it’s been smooth sailing for the Red Sox bullpen, with Jim Kelly and Matt Barnes looking the most steady in their time on the mound, each allowing just one runner in 2.1 and 2.0 IP. Hembree and Brasier would each keep ER off their ledgers, but did allow 3 base runners each.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Justin Verlander, RHP (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Chris Sale, LHP (1-0, 2.84 ERA)

Verlander came out firing in his first game this postseason, cruising through the first five innings before running into trouble in the 6th. He was pulled in favor of Pressly with only one out in the inning and two of the runners he left on would come around to score. But overall it was an excellent outing from a starter in October. Verlander was solid the first time he met Boston this season, going six solid innings and only giving up 2 runs.

Sale started Game 1 of the ALDS as an unknown commodity, with a shaky outing at the end of the season after a lengthy DL stint. He would reverse that, however, with a similar game to Verlander, cruising through 5 innings before running into trouble and having some inherited runners score. He would also come on for a perfect inning of work in Game 4 as Cora looked to shut down the Yankees and move on. Sale was a little roughed up the one time he faced Houston this year, dropping 4 runs in 6 innings at MMP.

Game 2: Gerrit Cole, RHP (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. David Price, (0-1, 16.20 ERA)

Cole takes the mound after twirling a gem against Cleveland where he would toss 7 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball while striking out 12. Cole never looked uncomfortable in that entire game, retiring the final 7 batters he faced and throwing heat well in the upper 90’s in the final inning of his outing. Gerrit has faced Boston twice and looked good both times, going 6 IP with just 2 ER and 8 K’s the last time out.

David Price comes into this game after an extremely brief Game 1 appearance where he would only go 1.2 IP before being lifted in the second after a homer, two outs, two consecutive walks and a single. Of course, Price has had no issues with the Astros in either the postseason or the regular season, but he has had issues lately and may give the Astros a chance to strike.

At this point there’s a chance that pitchers could switch and change about, so I’ll just cover the two team’s most likely remaining starters.

Dallas Keuchel, LHP (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Dallas makes this start after a good ALDS Game 3, where he probably could have gone a little deeper if Hinch had allowed. Though he would wobble slightly in the third inning of that game where one of the runs he surrendered would come, he wouldn’t really look stressed at any point except for a mistake pitch given up to Lindor for a homer. DK faced Boston once this year and it wasn’t exactly pretty as he would give up 5 earned run in 6 innings of work.

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

Eovaldi would have one of the best postseason debuts one could hope for, shooting off 7 innings of 1-run ball against the Yankees in his last performance. He would strikeout 5, but didn’t walk anyone as he continues to look like a solid trade for the Red Sox. Houston did face Eovaldi once this season when he was with the Rays, where he would get tagged for 4 earned run in a 6 inning loss to the ‘Stros.

Charlie Morton, RHP (0-0, -.— ERA)

Charlie is still an unknown in this postseason, having yet to throw a pitch. The final outing he had was encouraging with a strong three innings against Baltimore, but it’s unclear if the shoulder issue he was having to close September was still bothering him.

Rick Porcello, RHP (1-0, 1.59 ERA)

Like Chris Sale, Porcello has one start and one relief appearance under his belt this October, though each would reverse as starter and reliever. Porcello has looked good, with 5 innings of 1-run baseball in his Game 4 start, but he did only strikeout one, so he wasn’t exactly tying hitters up. Porcello has seen Houston twice and wasn’t fooling anyone his last time out against them, where he would give up 4 runs in 5.2 innings of work.

Fun Fact

Astros in 5.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Saturday, October 13th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 2: Sunday, October 14th @ 6:09 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 3: Tuesday, October 16th @ 4:09 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 4: Wednesday, October 17th @ 7:39 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 5*: Thursday, October 18th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 6*: Saturday, October 20th @ 4:09 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

Game 7*: Sunday, October 21st @ 6:39 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM / ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT

*If Necessary