In the playoffs, it becomes a bit skewered when looking at the rotation. The normal five-man rotation becomes four and even three with desperation. For the season, the Boston and Houston rotations were quite close. Boston’s starters had a 17.0 fWAR and the Astros an 11.5 fWAR. Where it is of concern is momentum.
Boston’s rotation the last week of the season did little to impress with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz all having difficulties, but it is now a new season. What could be the dividing factor is finding a pitcher of Sale’s capabilities and Houston may just have that and it is not Dallas Keuchel. For September Boston’s rotation is ranked eighth and the Astros second. A very bad time for a slump.
A late season move that brought Justin Verlander to Houston and the results have been painful for any opponent looking at facing the Astros. Verlander is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA since joining the Astros. Boston recently saw Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, and Lance McCullers and Astros manager A.J. Hinch can send one to the bullpen for the series.
The Red Sox have Sale and Pomeranz on solid ground, but the remaining is one gigantic question mark. Porcello led the league in home runs allowed and losses – not a good sign for facing that Houston lineup. Rodriguez simply had nothing and may be out of the picture in favor of veteran Doug Fister. With a predominantly right-handed hitting batting order by Houston, it may be Fister.
There are two issues that make this area one of concern for Boston. The first is the slump by the Red Sox’ group and the second is the addition of Verlander to Houston. Boston needs Sale to be on his game which means the potential for a game five for Sale and Pomeranz to do what he did in the division-clinching game.