The Red Sox came away from last weekend disappointed to go down 1-2 to the Astros in Fenway. Now, after a trip to Toronto, they head down to Houston hoping to extract some revenge. Can the Red Sox go into Minute Maid Park and spring a surprise on the best team in baseball right now?
5/24 Chris Sale vs. Wade Miley (L) 8:10 pm NESN
5/25 David Price vs. Brad Peacock (R) 7:15 pm FOX
5/26 Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Justin Verlander (R) 2:10 pm NESN
The Red Sox three starters in this series have a combined 7-10 record. Rodriguez has four of those wins and three losses. In those wins he averages one earned run allowed per game. In the losses, that number is 6.67. As for Sale, he is 1-5, with all those losses coming in the first six games. Despite allowing just six earned combined in his last three starts, Sale has not managed to get a single decision. Both of Price’s wins have come when he has allowed precisely zero earned runs. If he allows any earned he has either taken the loss or a no-decision.
Justin Verlander is in the form of his life this season. The 36-year old pitcher has a 2.24 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. To put some context on that Verlander has started 11 games this season. In eight of them he has allowed zero or one earned runs. Even when he struggles the worst he has done is allow for earned runs.
Brad Peacock and Wade Miley have not been as good as Verlander overall. However, pitching in Houston they have been incredible. Peacock has a 2.89 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 28 innings at home. Miley has 21 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings, but has a ridiculously low 2.31 ERA and a .94 WHIP.
J.D. Martinez started his career in Houston back in 2011. In his three seasons with the Astros he hit just 24 home runs with a .251 batting average. He has hit over 20 home runs in every season since he left Houston. In each of the last three seasons, Martinez has hit at least one home run in Minute Maid Park.
Houston’s offense has been great this season in general, but wow their numbers at home are impressive. As a team they have a .302 batting average, a .529 slugging and a .228 ISO. Leading that charge is George Springer, with his 17 home runs, four stolen bases and .313 batting average. He has seven of those home runs and a .333 batting average at home.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Rotation: Arguably this is the Red Sox first choice threesome for a playoff series. A healthy Nathan Eovaldi would also be in the conversation, but right now this would be the ideal three. However, all three have had their struggles this season. With three very good pitchers opposing them, the Red Sox starters need to at least show they can compete with the Astros starters in this series.
Hitting: The key for the offense in this series is just putting pressure on the pitchers. In Minute Maid Park, the highest WHIP among these pitchers is the 1.00 value for Peacock. These pitchers have had their way at home this season, and the Red Sox need to change that. If the offense can string hits together and put these guys in situations they are not used to, then just maybe they can break open a couple of them in their homefield stronghold.
After the Astros took two games in the series last weekend in Fenway there is perhaps not much optimism for this series. The Astros already seem like a very complete team, while the Red Sox are still figuring themselves out.
The key goal this weekend needs to be competitive. Obviously three wins would be great, but if that does not happen we just need to see the Red Sox be competitive. Even if the series ends with three wins to the Astros, as long as the Red Sox pitchers show promise, and the hitters put some hits together and apply pressure, there will be a lot of positives to take away from this series.