Do the Houston Astros struggle that bad against left-handed pitching?
The Astros roster is something the team can control, while who they will face is not. The Astros just announced the 25-man roster for the ALDS. We all know that the Stros will face the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Most people haven’t taken into consideration that Chris Sale is not the only lefty starter the Astros will face. Will this be a disadvantage for the team that causes them not to advance?
Outside of Sale, the Red Sox have Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez slated to pitch at some point. David Price has been a starter in his career but will come out of the bullpen this October. The Astros have been a team that has consistently struggled with left-handed pitchers, especially dominating ones.
Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello is the other pitcher to get a start possibly. Porcello is a right-handed pitcher who finished ahead of Justin Verlander last year for the Cy Award. Facing the Astros only three times in his career, Porcello is 1-1 with a 5.49 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. However, Porcello has had a bad season with an 11-17 record with a 4.65 ERA.
If the Astros are up 2-1 going into game four, would the Red Sox feel comfortable running Porcello out there? Would they come back with Sale on three days rest? If that’s the case, then the Astros could potential face all left-handed starters versus the Red Sox.
What’s the history versus the Red Sox starters?
Let’s take a look at the Astros career stats versus the Red Sox left-handed starters.
Sale: 5-1 record with a 1.31 ERA while striking out 65 hitters in 48 career innings.
Pomeranz: 2-2 record with a 3.69 ERA while striking out 33 hitters in 39 innings.
Rodriguez: 0-1 record with a 27.0 ERA while striking out two hitters in 1 1/3 innings.
Of course, Sale is the big concern with Pomeranz a close second. Not sure the Red Sox would pitch Rodriguez if the Stros have a 2-0 lead in the ALDS. Just this last week, the team knocked around Rodriguez in his first start against the Astros.
Like I said earlier, the Stros have a reputation of struggling versus left-handed pitchers. That is not the case anymore. Let’s take a look at the slash line for Houston this season.
Right-handed pitching: .283/ .345/ .482/ .827 in 4,185 at-bats.
Left-handed pitching: .278/ .348/ .466/ .814 in 1,426 at-bats.
There is only a minimal difference versus lefties and righties. Tyler White (1.333), Carlos Correa (1.066), Jose Altuve (.977), Alex Bregman (0.974), and George Springer (.972) led the team in on-base plus slugging versus lefties. The reason that White made the roster could be because of his success versus lefties in a small sample size.
Sale has made it known that he could pitch on three days rest, so the Astros need to figure out how to beat him. In five starts versus the Astros in his career, Sale is 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA while striking out 65 hitters in 48 innings pitched. Altuve is the only one to have real success against Sale with a .381 batting average with a homer.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***