The MLB postseason has already been highly entertaining. Between outstanding play, gritty performances, and the occasional controversy, the postseason has had a little bit of everything.
With a ton of excitement and intrigue already, it is amazing to think we haven’t even begun the Championship Series yet. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the American League Championship Series stacks up as the Boston Red Sox will take on the Houston Astros.
How They Got Here
For the Boston Red Sox, they have already played two series to this point. In the Wild Card round, they were able to take down their longtime divisional rival, the New York Yankees, 6-2.
They moved from one AL East opponent to another in the ALCS as they took down the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays three games to one. After dropping the first game to the Rays, they went on to outscore Tampa Bay 26-15 to win the series.
For Houston, they were also able to eliminate the Chicago White Sox three games to one. After dominant back-to-back performances at home, the Astros let Game 3 slip 12-6. They were able to bounce back in Game 4, though, as they beat the White Sox in Chicago 10-1 to wrap up the series.
The Astros are the slight favorites to win this series. They are currently -156 to win the pennant while the Red Sox are +132.
In terms of the World Series, the Astros are the favorites at +170 while the Red Sox are +400 to win it all.
Regular Season Head-To-Head
In seven games during the regular season, the Astros came away with a five games to two advantage. In fact, the Astros took three of four from the Red Sox in Houston before taking two of three on the road at Fenway Park.
In the seven games, the Astros outscored Boston 42 to 25 (12 of those 25 came in the final game, a 12-8 Boston win).
By The Numbers
Offensively, these are two of the best offenses in baseball. During the regular season, the Astros ranked first in scoring (5.36 runs per game), first in batting average (.268), third in slugging percentage (.444), first in on base percentage (.339), and second in run differential (+209).
Not to be outdone, the Red Sox ranked fourth in scoring (5.16 runs), third in batting average (.263), second in slugging percentage (.453), fifth in on base percentage (.330), and ninth in run differential (+90).
On the defensive side, the Astros ranked seventh in scoring defense (4.09 runs allowed per game) and seventh in team earned run average (3.80). The Red Sox ranked 17th in scoring defense (4.62 runs) and 15th in ERA (4.26).
Breaking Down The Red Sox
The Red Sox may be one of the best stories of the postseason. Last year, they finished dead last in the AL East with a record of just 24-36. This season, Boston finished 92-70, which was tied for second in the AL East.
To top things off, they beat two of their division rivals in back-to-back series as they took down both the Yankees and the Rays. Now, they are hoping for a repeat of 2018, when they beat the Astros four games to one in the ALCS before going on to win the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The offense for this year’s Red Sox is led by third baseman Rafael Devers. During the regular season, he hit .279/.352/.538 with 38 home runs, 113 runs batted in, and 101 runs scored.
Other major contributors include J.D. Martinez (.286 avg., 28 HR, 99 RBI), Xander Bogaerts (.295 avg., 23 HR), and Kike Hernandez (.250 avg., 20 HR).
Hernandez has been especially dominant in the postseason hitting .435/.440/.826 with two home runs and six runs batted in.
In terms of their pitching, the Red Sox best starter has been Nathan Eovaldi. In two games, including the Wild Card win over New York, Eovaldi is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and has 16 strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched.
Manager Alex Cora will also look for contributions from the likes of Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, Eduardo Rodriguez, Garrett Whitlock, and others.
Speaking of Cora, he does have quite a bit of familiarity with Houston as he was an assistant coach with the organization prior to coming over to Boston.
Breaking Down The Astros
Like Boston, the Astros have one of the deepest lineups in baseball. In fact, their number seven hitter for much of the ALDS was Kyle Tucker, who hit .294/.359/.557 with 30 home runs and 92 runs batted in during the regular season.
Aside from Tucker, they have the winner of the AL batting title in Yuli Gurriel to go along with Jose Altuve (.277 avg, 31 HR, 83 RBI), Yordan Alvarez (.277 avg/, 33 HR, 104 RBI), Carlos Correa (.279 avg., 26 HR), Alex Bregman (.270 avg., 12 HR) and Michael Brantley (.311 avg., 8 HR).
With a lineup that deep, it is no wonder why they outscored the White Sox 31 to 18 over four games, and why they lead or are close to leading most offensive categories.
On the pitching side, there is a little bit of concern for Houston. In Game 4 against Chicago, Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA) was forced to leave the game after just the fourth inning with forearm tightness. If he has to miss any time, that will be a huge blow to Houston.
Aside from McCullers, Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA) and Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.48 ERA) have been staples in the rotation while Ryan Pressly (26 saves, 2.25 ERA), Ryne Stanek (3.42 ERA), and Kendall Graveman (3.13 ERA) hold down the back end of the bullpen.
The Astros will also have home field advantage in this series. The Astros have been remarkable at Minute Maid Park as they were 51-30 there during the regular season and won both of their games there in the opening series.
Who Will Win The Series
Really, this is one that you could probably flip a coin on. Both of these teams are playing well and both offenses in particular have the capability of putting up a crooked number.
The Astros probably have the advantage in terms of their pitching staff; however, that advantage could lessen if Lance McCullers Jr. is forced to miss time with the injury he sustained in Game 4 of the ALDS.
Still, with a deeper collection of arms and home field advantage, the early edge has to go to Houston.
At the end of the day, though, buckle up because this is destined to be a really fun and exciting matchup between two American League powerhouses.