This Red Sox team is a much different looking team than the one that got swept by the Indians last October.
Last year, the Sox relied on David Ortiz to carry the offense and when he went cold, the team was doomed. This year, while not nearly as prolific, the Red Sox are a more balanced offense that is much more of a small ball lineup ranking 27th in the MLB in team homeruns.
They’ll look to build off the experience of last years humbling sweep at the hands of the Indians in their ALDS series against the Astros.
Many are saying the Red Sox are underdogs in the series, but when you take a closer look at it this series, it’s a flip of the coin. While the Astros have the better offense, headlined by Altuve who is a ridiculous hitter, I’ll take Sale and Pomeranz over Verlander and Keuchel, and the Red Sox bullpen has been on fire in the closing weeks.
Sale, like he has most of this season, will be the key to the series. Making his first postseason appearance in game one, he is slated to go against Verlander who is no stranger to the big stage.
Sale led the MLB with 308 strikeouts, but the Astros are a team that hits power pitching quite well. So Sale will have to keep them off balanced by mixing his speed on his fastball which will be key along with keeping his slider tight on the corners.
While Verlander is no scrub, when Sale is on he is the more dominant pitcher. Losing game one will be a critical blow to the Sox, so Sale has to step up and carry the Sox on Thursday.
Another key to watch throughout the series is the teams bullpens. The Astros bullpen has been shaky at times, and the Red Sox are no stranger to late game comebacks as they’ve proven time and time again this year.
On the other side the Red Sox bullpen has been one of, if not, the best in the MLB in the last few weeks. The recent emergence of David Price has got to have you feeling good if your a Sox fan. He looked filthy against Houston, like really filthy. That’s a really important development because Price could be the Sox answer in game three.
On the offensive side the Sox have a lot of questions as they don’t have any proven postseason hitters. That could be their downfall, but that doesn’t mean they can’t emerge this series. Betts, Bogarts, and Benintendi have to be at their best if they hope to keep pace with the high powered Houston offense.
Not just offensively, but they also have to be great in the field because they can’t be giving up runs to a team that will certainly do enough to score on their own.
Overall the Red Sox are underdogs in the series and should be. But don’t count them out just yet, because this is exactly the type of team that will surprise you.