Astros have the edge over the Red Sox in the bullpen
By Eric Huysman
The Astros bullpen is one of the main reasons this team should repeat as champs in 2018.
If you are an Astros fan, you were probably keeping an eye on the Yankees versus Red Sox ALDS. If you weren’t doing that, you were probably trolling Mike Clevinger or Indians fans on social media. Maybe you were meditating, preparing yourself for the emotions of the ALCS. Now the Astros know who they will be facing after Tuesday night’s game.
The Red Sox beat the Yankees on Tuesday, winning the ALDS 3-1. Like the final game of the Astros vs. Indians, the outcome of that game was decided early in the game. The Yankees made it more of a game, but the Red Sox will host the Astros Saturday night. We will see Justin Verlander take on Chris Sale in Game 1.
This will be a clash of teams with the best records.
For now, I have the visual of Craig Kimbrel almost blowing the lead in Game 4 of the ALDS. This brings up the question, how does the Astros bullpen compare to the Red Sox? So far during the playoffs, AJ Hinch has only used a reliever for only 9 2/3 innings versus the Indians, via ESPN. The bullpen holds a 0.93 ERA with the lone run on a meaningless run scored off Will Harris. They have allowed three walks and have struck out nine hitters.
Granted, the Red Sox have played in one more game than the Astros, but they have a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings pitched. They have issued 11 walks and stuck out 17 hitters. Many would say that they would trust Kimbrel over Roberto Osuna. Even if that’s true, Kimbrel’s supporting cast is not so great.
Comparing the bullpen.
During the regular season, the Astros bullpen had a 3.03 ERA with 586 strikeouts in 499 2/3 innings. This was including the outlier Ken Giles, who has since been traded. The thing that has helped the Astros bullpen is how deep into games the starting pitchers go. This has kept them fresh and postseason-ready.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox bullpen has almost 90 more innings logged in the regular season compared to Hinch’s bullpen. The Red Sox have a 3.72 ERA with 628 strikeouts in 587 1/3 innings pitched. Ironically, both teams finished the regular season with 46 saves. Yes, the Red Sox had more strikeouts, but that factors in the extra innings.
Astros relievers have 10.56 strikeouts per nine innings pitched compared to the Red Sox’s 9.62. Looking at the stats, it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox have a better bullpen. Let’s take a look at the relievers from the ALDS roster to see which one is better.
While there may be bias here, the Astros bullpen just has star power. Especially how McHugh has adapted to the bullpen and how valuable Pressly has become. Left off the roster was Joe Smith and Hector Rondon, among others.
Hinch has not been forced to rely heavily on the bullpen so far with strong starts by Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Dallas Keuchel. Sipp and James are still raising their hand and saying, “put me in coach!” You will see the Astros rely primarily on Osuna, Pressly, and McCullers. The bullpen is one of the main reasons this team should repeat as champs in 2018.