The previous week (5/20-5/27) for the Red Sox has been an encouraging one to say the least. They took two out of three from the Tampa Bay Rays and the first place (at the time) Atlanta Braves. The offensive player of the week is Andrew Benintendi (.353/.455/.824, 1.278 OPS, 223 wRC+). The pitcher of the week is Eduardo Rodriguez, who got two wins while posting up a 1.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts, three walks and two earned runs. This is evidence of two players who needed to have a great week like this. Will these performances kick-start the players into performing at a better rate? Only time will tell.
Looking ahead to this week, the Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at home for three games, and then travel to Houston for a four game showdown with the Astros. The Astros split their four game series with the Cleveland Indians, and will also be playing the Yankees for the first three game series of this week. Focusing on the Astros series, the probable pitchers look to be Pomeranz, Sale, Price, and Porcello. For the Astros, it looks to be McCullers Jr., Cole, Verlander, and Morton. The Sox seem to be facing the best of the best as both Verlander and Cole are ranked first and second in ERA in the American League (1.08 and 1.86 respectively). Also, George Springer and Alex Bregman are doing quite well in the month of May. Springer posting a .341/.383/.557 slash with a .940 OPS and Bregman with a .282/.396/.529/.940 line.
The Sox offense really needs to step up more than ever against Houston. The Astros, as a team, throw 43.9% of their pitches in the strike zone, and have the highest swinging strike percentage in the majors (12.6%). The Houston bullpen should not be undermined, as they have one of the lowest contact percentages in the majors (73.6%). They also have a 2.63 ERA, which is ranked third in baseball. All in all, this Astros pitching staff is no joke since they have the highest strikeout rates, along with a top 5 walk rate and a miniscule 0.86 HR/9 figure. The Sox need to be aggressive in the zone and attack early, because there is not a whole lot of relief once the opposing starters exit. Of course, there is the obvious payback feeling for being booted in the ALDS against this same Astros team. But here’s a catch: Alex Cora is leading the charge. He was on A.J. Hinch’s World Series winning coaching staff last year, which will prove to be an advantage. This series will be epic.
Notes for the week:
- David Price has a career 1.088 WHIP with a 2.92 ERA while playing indoors (like Minute Maid Park).
- The Astros lead the league in overall run differential, however Houston has a pedestrian +34 differential at home for the season.
- The Sox will need Mookie Betts back in order to contend with the Astros this weekend. Don’t be shocked if Mookie misses the next few days.
- The Red Sox have a 3.04 ERA as a team when playing away and the Astros have a 2.63 ERA when playing at home.
- The Astros have a .235 batting average as a team when playing at Minute Maid park this season. The Sox have a .248 average when on the road.
This upcoming series with the defending champions is going to be a crazy experience. Don’t miss it.