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2018 Season Series #19: Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (35-22, 1st in AL West) continue to run the gauntlet as the Red Sox (39-17, 1st in AL East) come to Houston for a 4 game ALDS rematch

Divisional Round - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Recency Bias

The Red Sox come to town after a series sweep against the Blue Jays and setting the world on fire with one of the top offenses in the major leagues this year. Boston is either first or second in hits, runs, doubles, RBIs, average, slugging, and home runs this year. They won the Toronto series in explosive fashion with 11+ hits in each game and 22 runs plated. LF Andrew Benintendi has been red hot this last week, slashing .417/.444/.917 with two each of doubles, triples, and homers. Mookie Betts has also been one of Boston’s better players, but is a little dinged up and skipped the Toronto series with tightness in his left side. He’s expected to be on the field in Houston. Old Friend JD Martinez has not been so good lately, hitting only .217 in the last 7 days, but with 3 home runs. The bullpen has been doing work for Boston and has been solidly in the top 5 in most categories. Joe Kelly is quietly putting together a stellar season, but Kimbrel is still the big name. Boston will be looking to stay a step ahead of the Yankees with a two game lead in the AL East.

In the home dugout, the Astros return to Houston after losing a tough three game set to the Yankees. They follow that up with a four game series against the MLB best Red Sox in what is Houston’s toughest stretch until the all star break. Altuve and Gattis have both been crushing it at the plate this week, sporting an OPS of 1.297 and 1.282, respectively, in the last 7 games. Max Stassi continues to be found money as he fills in for an injured McCann with a slash line of .318/.348/.682. Unfortunately, Correa has seemed a little lost at the plate lately with an OPS of .474 and 10 K’s in his last 27 ABs. Houston’s bullpen has been overly dramatic lately, as we all know, and the Astros are in a rough spot because of all the extra usage in the middle of a stretch without a break. They should be in a little better shape today though, thanks to McHugh who played hero with a scoreless three frames to close out the New York series and rest some weary arms. Houston will try to gain some ground this series before welcoming the suddenly pesky Mariners to town, who continue to hover one game back in the West.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Drew Pomeranz, LHP (1-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers Jr, RHP (6-3, 3.98 ERA)

Pomeranz will open the series for the Red Sox after a less than encouraging start to his 2018 season. In his 7 starts since coming off the DL Pomeranz has gone less than 5 IP four times and given up at least 3 runs in all but one game. His most recent start was a downer, wherein he gave up 3 walks to go with 5 ER in only 3.1 innings of work. He strikes out people at a decent clip, but with a BB/9 rate of 5.34 and a FIP of 5.39, Pomeranz should be easy meat for the Astros’ offense.

Meanwhile, Lance comes in after his second worst performance of the season. It interrupted a string of 7 decent to good outings as he would give up 7 ER across 4.1 IP and only strikeout 2. He was bit by the long ball and allowed 3 HR, which were the first he has given up since April 17th. Lance has shown bounce back capabilities this season, though, and likes to pitch at MMP where he has a 1.73 ERA, the best of any of the Astros’ starters.

Even if Lance is shaky again the offense should be able to put crooked numbers up on Pomeranz and give him an advantage here.

Game 2: Chris Sale, LHP (5-2, 2.76 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (5-1, 2.05 ERA)

Chris Sale has been mostly Chris Sale this year, turning in solid start after solid start. His last time out was a bit of a dud however, really his only bad game of the season. Against the upstart Braves he would only go 4.1 IP while allowing 6 ER. He would strike out 8 to keep up his elite 12.48 K/9 rate, and he has a more than respectable BB/9 and HR/9 rate as well. His 2.94 FIP also seems to suggest that he’s right about where he’s supposed to be this season.

The Astros will trot out Gerrit Cole, who has come down to earth slightly from his red hot start to the season, but has still been all Houston could hope for on the mound. His last game against Cleveland was a very solid 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 K performance where he would only allow 6 base runners. He’s also continued striking out the world with a K/9 over 13 and his 2.29 FIP indicates that regression may not be much of a problem going forward for Cole.

I’m going to call this one a push as either pitcher is more than capable of silencing tough offenses

Game 3: David Price, LHP (5-4, 4.04 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (7-2, 1.11 ERA)

Price has had an up and down season so far in his 2018 campaign. He started off looking like a CY candidate before a brief sidelining with carpal tunnel syndrome. Since then he’s had a handful of excellent starts balanced by a couple that can be generously described as hot garbage. His most recent outing was good enough with 5 IP, and he only gave up 2 ER, but only had 4 K’s to go with 4 walks. Peripherals suggest that his season’s performance won’t significantly improve.

I’m getting real close to just typing “He’s Justin Verlander” for JV. He continued his excellent season in his last start, where he went 6.2 IP and give up just a single run with 5 K’s. Verlander’s 2018 continues to be one of his best seasons in a long and storied career. In the last 10 games he’s gone at least 6 IP and hasn’t given up more than 2 ER in any of those. In his 12 starts this season he’s had just one game, against Baltimore of all teams, where he went less than 6 IP (5.2) and gave up more than 2 ER (3). Unreal.

Verlander, Verlander, Verlander.

Game 4: Rick Porcello, RHP (7-2, 3.65 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton, RHP (7-0, 2.26 ERA)

Porcello had been looking more like his 2016 Cy Young self to start the season, but has since hit a bit of a wall. In the 4 games leading up to his most recent start he had gone 21 IP with 19 runs (17 earned), 3 home runs, 8 walks, and only 19 K’s. He would bounce back with a good outing against Toronto though, going 6.2 IP and 3 runs, but only 2 earned. His FIP is actually better than it would seem, which I would expect from someone more than capable of coming with his CY stuff.

Houston counters with Charlie Morton, who had a good outing against the Yankees his last time out. He did struggle a little early on and dodged some traffic while tying his season high with 2 home runs. He also had double digit strikeouts for the 4th time this season with 10 on the night, and only gave out one free pass. Charlie’s FIP does suggest some regression might be on the way, but he’s hung tight all season even when his command hasn’t been the best.

Another push as both pitchers have been excellent at times this season, though Morton has definitely had more solid outings than Porcello.

Bold Predictions for Bold Times

Boston is held to 10 runs or less for the entire series.

Sale gives up a home run to Altuve in an echo of the ALDS.

Gattis stays hot.

Astros Win 3-1.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, May 31st @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Game 2: Friday, June 1st @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Game 3: Saturday, June 2nd @ 6:15 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Fox / MLB.TV

Game 4: Sunday, June 3rd @ 5:35 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCEC 1490 AM/103.7 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: ESPN

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (21 votes)
  • 27%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (37 votes)
  • 35%
    Series Split 2-2
    (48 votes)
  • 17%
    Red Sox Win 3-1
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    Red Sox Sweep 4-0
    (6 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now