MLB Postseason 2017: Red Sox vs Astros ALDS series preview

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Outfielders Andrew Benintendi
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: Outfielders Andrew Benintendi /
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BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Chris Sale (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Chris Sale (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

ALDS Pitching Matchups

Thursday, October 5 @ Houston – 4:08 p.m.

LHP Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) vs RHP Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA)

Sale joined Pedro Martinez as the only Red Sox pitchers ever with 300+ strikeouts in a season. He ultimately fell five strikeouts short of Pedro’s single-season franchise record, in part because the Red Sox skipped his start the final day of the regular season to rest him for the playoffs.

Verlander is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts since the Astros acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in an August waiver deal.

Friday, October 6 @ Houston – 2:05 p.m.

LHP Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32 ERA) vs LHP Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA)

Pomeranz made 10 starts against teams that have qualified for the 2017 postseason, posting a 6-1 record with a 2.62 ERA. The Red Sox were 9-1 in those games.

2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel returned to form this year after a down 2016 season. He missed time this year with an injury, limiting him to 23 starts and keeping him short of qualifying for the ERA title. With enough innings to qualify, he would have tied Sale for second in the league.

Sunday, October 8 @ Boston – 2:38 p.m

RHP Doug Fister (5-9, 4.88 ERA) vs RHP Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA)

Fister has been confirmed as the Game 3 starter for the Red Sox. While that may be a bit of a controversial decision, it’s worth noting that he’s the only starting pitcher candidate on this staff with a postseason win on his resume. A case can be made that Eduardo Rodriguez deserves this spot but it’s believed he’s slated for a bullpen role. The lack of another left-handed reliever aside from David Price supports that theory and helps clarify why Fister gets the starting nod.

Morton made more starts for the Astros than any pitcher on their staff and tied for the team lead in wins.

Monday, October 9 @ Boston – TBA (if necessary)

RHP Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65 ERA) vs RHP Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00 ERA)

If E-Rod is in fact in the bullpen then the Red Sox may be forced to turn to a pitcher who led the league in losses and home runs allowed for a potential Game 4. If Boston faces elimination entering this game, don’t count out Sale pitching on three days rest. Keeping Porcello on the roster allows Farrell to be flexible and push that decision off until we see how the first few games pan out.

Peacock has bounced between the bullpen and rotation but finished the year with a win in three consecutive starts, including one over Boston. The Astros could determine that Peacock can transition back to a bullpen role more seamlessly than their other starting options but he deserves the nod over Lance McCullers, who was blasted for five runs against the Red Sox last week.

Wednesday, October 11 @ Houston – TBA (if necessary)

LHP Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) vs RHP Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA)

If this series reaches five games then we could see a rematch of the Game 1 starters. It’s also possible that Sale pitches in Game 4 on short rest, which would set up Pomeranz to take the mound in a potential Game 5.

Houston is less likely to use a starter on short rest given that they have better rotation depth, so Verlander would probably be saved for Game 5.