clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 ALCS Preview: Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros

New, 93 comments

The Astros and Red Sox become postseason foes yet again as they battle for the right to represent the American League in the 2021 World Series

MLB: ALCS-Workouts Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

After 6 and a half months the Astros find themselves in familiar territory as they prepare to duke it out with the Red Sox for another crack at a trophy. They’ll have to do it against a version of the Red Sox that no one had penciled in to be among the final four teams still left in the tournament.

Boston spent all of 2020 getting slapped around, finishing dead last in the AL East during the COVID-shortened season and missing out on the expanded playoff format. While they weren’t expected to be hot garbage this season, most of the more serious baseball prognosticators didn’t see them as a team built for a deep playoff run. But sometimes the nerds lose, so here we are.

So far the playoffs have been nothing short of a complete success for the Sawx. Boston handled the Yankees fairly easily in the Wild Card game and were able to steal home advantage before knocking the Rays off in the ALDS. Now they face the Astros, who are trying to ride a wave of boos, jeers, and questioning of their lineage all the way to their third World Series appearance in five years.

And that wave has been a big one. After waiting a full year for release, fans of other teams have done their best to let the Astros have it every time they’ve stepped up to the plate in an opposing team’s stadium. While the Red Sox have history in that very same regard, the sentiment has not been nearly as venomous when it comes to the Bean Towners. To that effect, I am certain the Astros will hear the most ironic boos in the history of jeering when they head to Fenway for Game 3.

But all that aside, the Red Sox are a good team with an offense built to do damage. Their biggest weakness is their pitching, but with the Astros looking at the loss of Lance McCullers, both staffs are a little suspect right now. Either way, this should be a fun series, so buckle up friends, because I expect it’s going to get loud in Minute Maid Park tonight.

Regular Season W/L Splits: 49-32 at home, 43-38 on the road, 46-48 against teams over .500

Season Series: Astros won 5-2, +17 Run Differential


Offense

The Red Sox have become quite offensive in the playoffs, plus they’ve gotten pretty good at hitting too (wocka wocka). In the five games they’ve played so far, Boston is slashing .328/.372/.547 as a unit. Their .919 OPS is best in the tournament so far, and a little more than 100 points higher than the Astros, who are #2 at .803.

It’s also been home run after home run for the BoSox, who have mashed 11 taters so far including an epic walk off dong in extra innings in Game 3 of the ALDS. They also have 9 doubles and have driven in 32 runners so far this postseason. Really, the only offensive stat that Boston looks deficient in is stolen bases, with only 1 bag swiped so far.

But they really haven’t needed much small ball with four players sporting an OPS north of 1.000 in the playoffs. That includes old friend Kike Hernandez (.435/.440/.826), who has been an absolute wrecking ball this October, as well as Xander Bogaerts (.350/.435/.650), Kyle Schwarber (.316/.409/.632), and Rafael Devers (.300/.417/.600). Honorable mentions go to Game 3 hero Christian Vasquez (.353/.353/.529) and Alex Verdugo (.348/.348/.565), both of whom have also been swinging the lumber quite well.

In a short sample size this lineup looks both stacked and hungry to advance. Astros pitchers will have their hands full no doubt, but the same could be said for the Red Sox’s pitching staff.


Pitching

The Red Sox’s pitching staff should have their hands full with an Astros lineup that is looking both stacked and hungry to advance. The Red Sox have lined up their first two starters and it looks like it will be Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi on the bump in Houston.

Sale is a bit of a question mark for this series. He made ten starts at the end of the regular season after working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but looked pretty awful in his last two including the postseason. That includes a debacle in Tampa during the DS where he gave up a grand slam and five earned runs in just an inning of work.

Meanwhile, Nathan Eovaldi is definitely not a question mark and he gives the Red Sox a solid chance to steal home field advantage again. He’s looked more like Boston’s ace than anyone else this postseason, turning in masterful performances in both the Wild Card and a pivotal ALDS Game 3. Eovaldi has only surrendered three runs in 10 IP so far this postseason.

As for the bullpen, well, who knows how Cora will work it? One thing he has shown while managing the DS is that he’s not afraid to deploy starters in pivotal moments and ride the hot hand for as long as he needs to, but not much farther. Regular season starters Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta have both had extended relief outings that helped Boston clinch their ALCS berth. Expect to see phenom reliever Garrett Whitlock in the mix for high leverage situations as well.

The Red Sox don’t have a whole lot of lockdown pitching after that though, and while their staff isn’t exactly a bunch of pushovers, it won’t be quite so easy to stitch innings together in a seven game series. It will be interesting to see how Cora deploys his pen knowing that he’ll have to cover at least four games this time around.


Poll

Who wins the Pennant?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (5 votes)
  • 7%
    Astros Win 4-1
    (16 votes)
  • 55%
    Astros Win 4-2
    (117 votes)
  • 21%
    Astros Win 4-3
    (46 votes)
  • 4%
    Red Sox Win 4-3
    (10 votes)
  • 7%
    Red Sox Win 4-2
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Red Sox Win 4-1
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Red Sox Sweep 4-0
    (1 vote)
212 votes total Vote Now

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Chris Sale (LHP, 5-1, 3.16 ERA, 52 K’s**) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 11-6, 3.14 ERA, 125 K’s**)
When: Friday, October 15th @ 7:07 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

AD

Game 2: Nathan Eovaldi (RHP, 11-9, 3.75 ERA, 195 K’s**) vs Luis Garcia (RHP, 11-8, 3.48 ERA, 167 K’s**)
When: Saturday, October 16th @ 3:20 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX/FS1

Game 3: TBD vs TBD
When: Monday, October 18th @ 7:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM
Watch: FS1, FS1-INT

Game 4: TBD vs TBD
When: Tuesday, October 19th @ TBD
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM
Watch: FS1, FS1-INT

Game 5*: TBD vs TBD
When: Wednesday, October 20th @ TBD
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM
Watch: FS1, FS1-INT

Game 6*: TBD vs TBD
When: Friday, October 21st @ TBD
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, ESPN Radio, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FS1, FS1-INT

Game 7*: TBD vs TBD
When: Saturday, October 22nd @ TBD
Listen: White Sox - WMVP 1000 AM, ESPN Radio, WRTO 1200 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX/FS1

*if necessary
**regular season stats