With the regular season in the books, the Red Sox will head to Houston to kick off a five game series against the Astros on Thursday. With that in mind, I thought I’d give a preview of the series and what I expect from the Red Sox in the postseason.
Game 1: Thursday, 4:08 PM ET, Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander
For the first time in his career, Chris Sale will be making a postseason start. And despite not having any experience, I have total trust in him. It’s hard not to when you record 308 strikeouts in a single season. He will be matched up against another horse, and one with playoff experience in Justin Verlander. Since being acquired by the Astros on September 1st, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner has been outstanding. Posting a 1.05 ERA in 34 innings with the Astros, it’s looking like a Game 1 pitching duel.
Game 2: Friday, 2:05 PM ET, Drew Pomeranz vs. Dallas Keuchel.
Back in April, I never could have seen this coming. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner going up against DREW POMERANZ in a playoff game? No way. Give me Price or Porcello is what I would have said, but not anymore. Pomeranz just completed the best regular season of his career. The numbers may not agree, but if you do what he did in the American League East, that’s a great year. This will be his first career start in the playoffs, coming off of a 2016 postseason where he allowed two earned runs in less than four innings pitched in two appearances. The way I view Pomeranz has totally changed as this season has progressed, from chump to second best starter in this rotation. He’ll be matched up against Dallas Keuchel, who last pitched in the postseason in 2015 and owns a 2.57 ERA in playoff action. Not as shiny as the Sale-Verlander matchup, but still, there is potential here.
Only the first two games’ starters have been announced, but I have a pretty good idea of who we will see from both sides. It depends on the situation, but I expect Eduardo Rodriguez to pitch Game 3, Doug Fister to pitch Game 4, and Chris Sale Game 5, if it is necessary. The key to all this is David Price. He could start, but I like him much more as a weapon out of the bullpen. What he’s done since returning from the DL has been extraordinary, and he has experience doing this in the postseason. I don’t expect him to be Andrew Miller or anything, but I think he could silence a lot of critics in this series.
Offensively, the Astros have the advantage. Correa, Springer, and Altuve is something the Red Sox cannot compete with. Guys like Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia need to step up. Rafael Devers will be stepping into a unique situation. I’m not positive, but he has to be the youngest player on any team’s postseason roster. I’m also excited to see what a healthy Eduardo Nunez can do for this team and where he’ll be plugged in the lineup and on the field.
It’s never easy, and advancing to the ALCS will certainly be a challenge for this Red Sox team. As expected, the Astros are favorites in this best of five series, but never tell me the odds. Chris Sale is here to play, David Price is here to play, and Mookie Betts is here to play. The Astros may very well win this series, but let’s see if the Red Sox can challenge them.
Well, that’s all I got for now. The series doesn’t start for another few days so this could be updated. Until then, enjoy the Wild Card games.