Red Sox vs Astros ALCS Preview

After a pair of exciting ALDS matchups, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros will face off in the ALCS. This will be the third time in the past five years that these two will play each other in the postseason. In the two previous matchups, the winner of the series went on to win the World Series. With a trip to the World Series hanging in the balance, here is a Red Sox vs Astros ALCS preview.

Lineup

Offensively, these teams are really similar. Both teams boast some of the deepest lineups in all of Major League Baseball. The Astros are at the top of almost every offensive statistic. They lead the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, and hits. They are second in doubles, OPS, while also striking out at the second-lowest rate. The Red Sox offense, however, is not far behind on the team leaderboards. Boston is first in doubles, second in slugging percentage and third in hits, batting average, and OPS.

Starting Pitching

While these two teams were really close offensively in the regular season, Houston had the clear edge on the starting pitching side of the game. According to ERA and innings pitched, the Astros rotation was the second-best in the AL. They posted a 3.63 ERA in 881.2 innings, both second-best in the AL. They were pitch to contact at times this season, however, fanning 835 batters in their 881.2 innings. Boston’s rotation had more swings and misses: 852 strikeouts in 812 innings, but did not fare as well on the run prevention side. Their 4.49 ERA was the eighth-best in the AL, a far cry from Houston’s 3.63 rotation ERA.

Bullpen

Within the pitching staff, the Red Sox strength is their bullpen. Boston’s bullpen ERA in the regular season was 3.99, sixth-best in the AL. It may have gotten even better when they added Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck to the ‘pen. The pair had five total appearances out of the bullpen in the ALDS, combining for 15.2 crucial innings and giving up five runs. The Red Sox needed these two after not getting a whole lot of length from their rotation in the ALDS. Houston wasn’t far behind in the regular season though. Their bullpen ERA was seventh-best, at 4.06. Outside of a blowout loss in the ALDS, the Astros bullpen pitched well in that series.

Interesting Storylines

The biggest storyline that may have a real impact on the outcome of the series is the health of Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers left his start in Game Five of the ALDS with right forearm discomfort which put his status for the series up in the air. McCullers has been left off the Astros ALCS roster, so he will be unable to pitch in this series, which is a huge blow for this Houston squad.

The regular-season series rarely means anything when the postseason comes around. However, it is interesting nonetheless. Houston won the season series five games to two, outscoring Boston 42-25 in those seven games. 12 of Boston’s runs came in one of those games, however.

Another interesting storyline is the relationship between Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the Astros. Cora was a coach for the Astros while the sign-stealing was occurring in 2017. He served his suspension in 2020 and has found his way back to the ALCS, facing his old team. There are going to be a lot of baseball fans who have disdain for both of these teams because of these connections. That disdain won’t get in the way of these teams battling it out for a World Series appearance though.

The 2021 ALCS between the Red Sox and the Astros begins Friday on Fox.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Lance McCullers Jr.,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.