As the Astros prepare to host the Red Sox for three games in Houston, the attention turns to the starting pitchers penciled in for Games 3 and 4 of the ALCS.
Despite a rough performance from Gerrit Cole in Game 2, the Astros‘ starting rotation remains a strength in the ALCS. This upcoming stretch of games is the primary reason why Houston assembled such a strong unit of starting pitchers. Not many teams could effectively combat Boston’s offense in 2018. The Astros hope that Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton can reverse the tide in the next two games.
In what could be his final start as an Astro, Keuchel gets the Game 3 nod for Houston this Tuesday. Through 204 2/3 innings in the regular season, the age-30 lefty posted a 3.74 ERA and 3.69 FIP with 153 strikeouts. While there are individuals who roll their eyes at his numbers, remember that most teams would love to have a pitcher with Keuchel’s track record in the postseason. There is no telling how this start will go for him, but there are worse options. Let’s not take Keuchel for granted as pitching well in the major leagues, much less in a ALCS, is quite difficult to accomplish.
In his lone start against Boston this year at Fenway Park, Keuchel allowed five earned runs over six innings. In four career appearances against the Red Sox during the regular season, Keuchel has a 9.15 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. On the plus side, though, the bearded southpaw held the Red Sox to only one run in last year’s Game 2 of the ALDS. Like last year, Keuchel’s postseason start against the Red Sox takes place at Minute Maid Park.
Morton, like Keuchel, will become a free agent to the start the offseason. He will also follow up Keuchel as the Game 4 starter on Wednesday. While Morton’s future in Houston is hazy like Keuchel’s, the Astros will lean on him to hold off Boston’s bats just long enough. In two starts this season against the Red Sox, the right-hander allowed eight runs across 10 1/3 innings. While 16 hits allowed against Boston this year doesn’t inspire much confidence, Morton did strike out ten Red Sox batters while allowing three walks.
For his career, Morton posted a 4.35 ERA in four career appearances against Boston. The Astros hope that the age-34 pitcher can replicate his overall success in the regular season — 167 IP, 3.13 ERA — at least one more time.