The Boston Red Sox take on the reigning champion Houston Astros at Fenway Park this weekend in a potential postseason preview.
The Boston Red Sox return home to take on the Houston Astros for a three-game weekend series that begins Friday night. These teams met in the postseason last year with the Astros advancing en route to a World Series title. They have been the two best clubs in baseball this season, potentially putting them on a collision course for this year’s playoffs.
An October meeting between these teams would undoubtedly be more entertaining than last year when Houston dominated the first two games before eliminating the Red Sox in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. The narratives between them extend far beyond current Red Sox manager Alex Cora serving as the bench coach for the 2017 Astros.
Red Sox versus Astros pits an unstoppable force against an unmovable object.
The Red Sox enter the day with the best record in baseball at 97-44. Houston is tied with the New York Yankees for second at 87-53. Boston has the best home record (48-18) while Houston has been the best on the road (47-21).
These teams split a four-game series in Houston back in June. The Red Sox outscored the Astros 19-18.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Boston owns the best lineup in baseball, leading the majors with 766 runs scored, 520 extra-base hits, a .268 batting average, .455 slugging, .793 OPS, and .339 wOBA. Houston’s lineup is no pushover either. They are fourth in runs scored, top-10 in virtually every other category and actually lead the majors with 111 wRC+ this season. The Red Sox have a clear edge on offense but the Astros are more than capable of putting up crooked numbers against anyone.
Houston has the best pitching staff in baseball with a collective 3.08 ERA, 3.18 FIP, .216 batting average against, and 10.51 K/9. Their starting rotation owns a 3.16 ERA and their bullpen has a major league-best 2.93 ERA. The Red Sox pitching staff stacks up as well as anyone in the American League. They are second in the league and fourth in the majors with a 3.62 ERA. Boston’s much-maligned bullpen ranks sixth in the majors with a 3.48 ERA.
The Red Sox rotation ranks a respectable fifth in the majors with a 3.71 ERA but that figure trails the Astros rotation by a significant margin. However, Boston has suffered more injuries, forcing them to use spot starters who have dragged down the team’s ERA. Nine different pitchers have made 4+ starts for the Red Sox this season. The Astros have only turned to a starter outside of their primary five-man rotation five times all season.
Teams don’t need more than four starters for a postseason series, negating any advantage the Astros have at the back of their rotation. Assuming both teams reach the postseason with their top-four starting pitchers healthy, the gap between these rotations is narrower than it seems.
The Red Sox have a pair of MVP candidates. Mookie Betts lead the batting title race with a .335 average and his 9.0 WAR leads the majors among position players. J.D. Martinez is chasing the Triple Crown. The Astros lineup boasts reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve and they have a young third baseman in Alex Bregman who warrants consideration this year.
Sale and Verlander are arguably the front-runners for the Cy Young Award. Sale leads the league with a 1.97 ERA and 13.5 K/9 but the time he’s missed on the disabled list could cost him. Verlander is fourth with a 2.73 ERA, third with an 11.87 K/9, and second with 188 innings pitched.
There is certainly no shortage of star power in this series.
Ultimately, this series won’t matter much in the standings. Houston would need to sweep in order to have any realistic shot of catching the Red Sox for the league’s best record and home field-advantage.
However, this meeting presents both teams with a late-season test to warm up for when it matters most in the postseason. A chance to measure themselves against another elite team. You better believe that means something to these players and the winner of this series will certainly keep that in mind if they do meet again in October.