MLB Picks Today: Red Sox at Astros AL Division Series Game 1
Red Sox at Astros ALDS Game 1
It's what you've all been waiting for! The MLB Playoffs officially starts here, and it kicks off with the Red Sox (93-69), winners of the AL East, against the Astros (101-61), who took the AL West easily. Both teams are starting their aces, as Chris Sale and Justin Verlander take to the mound. Surprisingly enough, Sale is an underdog in this spot, away and against a hot Houston offense.
Despite a great bullpen and arguably the most consistent closer in the league, the Red Sox just don't have enough hitting to keep up with the Astros.
Sure, Sale has a great record against the 'Stros, but unless he pitches a complete game, the red hot Astro bats will get to the bullpen. And that's if Sale brings his A-game.
Verlander is an ace and should hold his own, but even if he just plays mediocre, he's sure to get enough run support to get him and his team the win to take Game 1 of the series.
Boston is 1-4 in their last 5 Divisional playoff games, and 1-5 in their last 6 ALDS games on the road. The Astros, on the other hand, are 6-0 in their last 6 first games of a series, and 4-1 in their last 5 against AL East opposition.
Take the Houston Astros at -120 at Sports Interaction
Let's run down both teams to see where they stand. The visiting Boston Red Sox will get a boost when 2B Dustin Pedroia and 3B Eduardo Nunez return from injuries sustained late in the season. One of their bright spots is their bullpen though, and they shouldn't be afraid to go to a bullpen that has the likes of David Price, Addison Reed, and Carson Smith, despite the former's inflammation injury. Closer Craig Kimbrel is ust the cherry on top of a great bullpen, but they might need more from their offense against a team that can bat.
Boston starter Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA), acquired from the White Sox in that blockbuster deal that saw Yoan Moncada move to Chicago, will try to put his mediocre September behind him and get back on track here against the Astros. He's had success against them in the past, going 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA in six starts against them, allowing only 5 walks and striking out a monstrous 65 in 48 innings. Sale's lackluster September saw him go 3-4 with a 4.30 ERA in his last 8 starts.
Even worse, the Florida native gave up four home runs in his last time out.
The Houston Astros won their division with eight more victories than Boston, and hit the 100 win mark, but just failed to beat out the Indians for best record in the AL. While they fell short there, the Astros are clearly number one in batting. They lead the MLB in BA with .282, with Jose Altuve at the helm, OBP with .346, and slugging with .478. Home runs weren't a problem for them, as they hit 238 as a team, good for 2nd in the league. And don't think they just hack away at the plate, because their strikeout rate is a mere 17.8%, the least of any club. And with Josh Reddick possibly returning for Thursday's afternoon bout, Houston should be even more dangerous.
Acquired from the Tigers, Justin Verlander has been excellent for this Houston team. In his five starts with them, he's a perfect 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. The former MVP is no amateur to the postseason, and brings a 7-5 record with a 3.39 ERA in 16 playoff starts to Minute Maid Park on Thursday. In his two starts against the Red Sox earlier in the season, he allowed 4 runs, 3 of which were unearned, in 12 innings of work.
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