Astros Series Preview: An ALDS Rematch vs. the Red Sox
After going 1-2 in New York, the Astros continue on to play another AL warrior (No pun intended). The Boston Red Sox (39-17) come back to Minute Maid Park, for the first time since the ALDS last year.
The Red Sox have been no slack of a team this year. Their power resurgence has helped them be among the top offensive teams in baseball (.268/.331/.469). Their pitching has been superb (3.56 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .232 BAA, 554 SO). Plus their coaching staff, managed by former Astros BC Alex Cora, has worked around almost any obstacle that got in their way.
The team, compiled of stars like Mookie Betts (.359/.437/.750) and J.D. Martinez (.322/.379/.663) has been one of the major tone-setters in the MLB this year.
After last years lack of power in the lineup, the Red Sox knew they needed to add another few bats to help them get to the next level. They added several players, including former Astro Martinez (18 HR, 47 RBI) and Mitch Moreland (.312/.379/.632). They have provided the much-needed depth, power, and OBP, which lacked in Boston last year.
That said, the Astros are right up there with the Red Sox in AL supremacy. You should really say that the Red Sox are right up there with the Astros.
Slugging their way through the past few weeks, the Astros have looked more like the team all fans anticipated. Overall performance through the past stretch has been more consistent, despite the record reflecting poorly on the overall picture. Under-the-radar contributors including Tony Kemp (Last 15: .278 BA, 10 H, 8 RBI) and Max Stassi (Last 15: .313/.353/.542, 15 H, 10 RBI), have helped the Astros get beyond prior struggles. Besides for a few pitching hiccups, the overall production from A-Z has improved.
Starting from playing the Angels in Anaheim, the Astros have gone 9-7, outscoring their opponents 81-49. Hot Astros like Evan Gattis ( Last 15: .298/.375/.745, 6 HR, 16 RBI) and Jose Altuve (Last 15: .381/.409/.603, 24 H, 12 RBI), has powered the offense back into a more consistent, and often destructive offense.
Even though the bullpen has had its struggles, in general, the pitching has continued to show why it can be the best in baseball. Yes, some of the bullpen pitching stats can be deceiving (7 blown games), and some starters have hit mild rough patches. Still, the Astros will put the troubles behind and focus on the future.
It’s another weird four-game weekend series:
Thursday: 7:10 PM CT
Lance McCullers Jr. (6-3, 3.98 ERA, 68 K) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-2, 6.75 ERA, 31 K)
Friday: 7:10 PM CT
Gerrit Cole (5-1, 2.05 ERA, 109 K) vs. Chris Sale (5-2, 2.76 ERA, 104 K)
Saturday: 6:15 PM CT
Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.11 ERA, 98 K) vs. David Price (5-4, 4.04 ERA, 59 K)
Sunday: 6:35 PM CT
Charlie Morton (7-0, 2.26 ERA, 85 K) vs. Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.65 ERA, 70 K)
The ALDS rematch will feature several headline matchups. Cole will face off against Chris Sale, fighting over who is the AL strikeout leader. (Cole number one in AL with 109 K, Sale number two with 104 K.) Some of the best talent in baseball including, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Betts, and Andrew Benintendi will look to gain millennial supremacy among the group. The best pitching in baseball (Astros) will be facing the best offense in (Red Sox).
It will be one of the biggest tests for either team this year, and the prize for the one on top this series could result in having home-field advantage in October.
Next: Astros: Max Stassi’s opportunity for 2018 and beyond
Who will come on top?
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball References, MLB.com, and ESPN**