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2021 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (28-24, 2nd in AL West) close out the homestand with four games against the Red Sox (32-20, 2nd in AL East)

MLB: MAY 26 Red Sox at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Narrative

The Red Sox come to town in the midst of an early season dog fight with the Rays for the AL East. The Rays have surged into the top of the standings to knock the Sox from their perch, where they had been comfortably sitting for a majority of 2021. They’ve done it mostly thanks to a potent offense, which does not bode well for a struggling Astros pitching staff.

The Red Sox are slashing .261/.321/.447, which gives them an MLB best OPS of .768. Boston also leads the league in slugging, probably due to the fact that they have 115 doubles, which is 14 more than anyone else in the majors. They are also prolific hitters in general with 459 knocks, good for second just behind the Astros.

While the offense has been world-class, the pitching has been decidedly less so for the BoSox. As a staff, pitchers in Boston are sporting a 3.85 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and a .247 BAA. None of those marks crack the top ten in the league, though they’re not exactly a bunch of slouches. The 3.85 ERA is certainly better than expected when some of their other stats are taken into account, and shows an ability to knuckle down and get outs when needed.

It’s hard to pin down whether starters or relievers are the weak link fore Boston as neither group has really performed at an elite level this season when looked at as a whole. The starters have been slightly better in the month of May, but that might have to do more with quality of competition. So far Boston’s offense has been able to paper over the pitching, but with a staff mostly in the mid to lower part of the league when it comes to stats it’s hard to see them being able to do so all season.

Of course, the Red Sox weren’t really supposed to be in this position anyways as the AL East has really defied expectations all season. With four teams that have a record above .500 the East is currently the deepest division in baseball. But we’ll probably need another couple of months before we can ascertain who will be in the hunt all the way to the finish line.

Quick Notes

“It’s over .900(0)!”: J.D. Martinez (.328/.399/.587), Rafael Devers (.284/.354/.607), and Xander Bogaerts (.326/.387/.565) have all been leading the charge in Boston as all three feature and OPS north of .900. The next closest is Alex Verdugo (.287/.345/.461), who sits at .806.

Double the Fun: Rafael Devers is currently tied with Nolan Arenado for the MLB lead in doubles at 17, but he’s hardly alone. Bogaerts (14) and Martinez (13) both join him with double digits for their totals this season.

Martinez Returns: Sighs of relief have been emanating from Boston as J.D. Martinez has seemingly returned to form in 2021 after a poor showing in the shortened 2020 season. Another return that I’m sure we’ll all hear about, because it’s talked about endlessly every time these teams play each other, is that Houston cut him so now he’s back in town and blah blah blah.

Big Bad Barnes: I may have given the impression that the Red Sox pitching is not that great but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have dominant arms in the bullpen. Matt Barnes has been an absolute anchor at the beck end of the pen for Boston, successfully converting 12 of 13 save opportunities this season. He also has a sparkling 2.63 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and .138 BAA across 24 IP. His 41 strikeouts are also good for 2nd most in MLB.

Rule 5 Gem: Garett Whitlock has been a revelation out of the bullpen for the Red Sox after they snagged him from the Yankees’ AA affiliate in this year’s Rule 5 draft. He went 13.1 innings before giving up his first run in the majors, after which he readjusted and added a slider to his arsenal to help remain at the top of his game. Whitlock might be due some regression since this is baseball and all, but the Red Sox now see this rookie as a part of their future.

Darwinzon Hernandez: I just like this reliever’s first name.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP, 5-3, 5.06 ERA, 54 K’s) vs Jose Urquidy (RHP, 3-2, 3.22 ERA, 33 K’s)

The Astros will have a chance to jump on top of the series as they face off against the struggling Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez has had a nightmare month of May, having pitched to a 6.48 ERA across 5 starts. He was chased after giving up 4 runs in 4 IP in his most recent outing against the Phillies.

Game 2: Garrett Richards (RHP, 4-3, 3.83 ERA, 47 K’s) vs Luis Garcia (RHP, 3-3, 2.93 ERA, 54 K’s)

Garrett Richards gets the ball for the Red Sox in Game 2, but you’ll probably remember him more in an Angels uniform than a Boston one. Unlike Game 1’s starter, Richards has been pretty good in May, rolling into town with a 4-1 record and a 2.65 ERA. He has walked four in each of his last two outings though, so control may be an issue for him in this game if that trend continues.

Game 3: Nick Pivetta (RHP, 6-0, 3.86 ERA, 59 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 K’s)

Pivetta has yet to receive a loss while in a Red Sox uniform, which spans back to last season when he was traded to Boston by the Phillies. The big righty was able to strike out 9 across 6 innings in his most recent start against the Braves, but also surrendered 4 earned runs. This will be his first career start against the Astros.

Game 4: Martin Perez (LHP, 3-2, 3.55 ERA, 48 K’s) vs Jake Odorrizi (RHP, 0-2, 6.75 ERA, 15 K’s)

Perez comes into this game after three straight wins, including two quality starts. He has a 2.60 ERA in the month of May across 5 starts and has probably been Boston’s best starter in recent games. Perez has been tough when pitching at MMP and owns a 2.97 ERA across five career starts in Houston.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, May 31st @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / ESPN, ESPN (out-market-only)

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Game 2: Tuesday, June 1st @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Wednesday, June 2nd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / ESPN

Game 4: Thursday, June 3rd @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Red Sox - WEEI 93.7, WCCM 1490 AM/103.7 FM, WAMG 94.9/890 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Red Sox - NESN / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (6 votes)
  • 30%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (16 votes)
  • 41%
    Series Split 2-2
    (22 votes)
  • 15%
    Red Sox Win 3-1
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Red Sox Sweep 4-0
    (1 vote)
53 votes total Vote Now