Red Sox vs Brewers: Can pitching matchups help Boston against NL Central leaders?

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

It was a phenomenal showing at The Trop this week as the Boston Red Sox swept the Tampa Bay Rays to bring their record to 26-24 on the year. They also managed to pull ahead of the Rays 4-3 in the season series.

The rollercoaster that is the 2024 Red Sox has once again come to the "high" portion, and now there are nothing but good vibes going around as the Milwaukee Brewers come into Fenway for a three-game weekend series. This should be a fun one. Here's what the pitching matchups will look like.

Red Sox vs Brewers: Can pitching matchups help Boston against NL Central leaders?

Game 1 on Friday: Bryse Wilson vs. Kutter Crawford

The Red Sox may very well have their best three starters going in this series, while they also get to miss the Brewers' best in Freddy Peralta, who just pitched on Wednesday.

Bryse Wilson takes the mound for the Brew Crew on Friday, and he's 2-1 on the season with a 2.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9. On the road, he's been quite impressive going 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 6.5 K/9.

The good news for the Red Sox is that Wilson's numbers could be a little deceiving as his expected ERA on the season is 4.94, which is a massive jump from his standard ERA. His FIP on the year is also 4.95. Both would suggest he's (1) getting a little lucky this year, and (2) his defense has contributed greatly to his low ERA.

It's still going to be a tough matchup considering the quality of starting pitcher that has already had success against the Red Sox this season,.

On the flip side, Kutter Crawford should give the Red Sox a sizable advantage in the starting pitching department. He's 2-2 on the season with a 2.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 2.66 FIP. He's also really performed at home this season. Despite having a career 2-10 record and 5.04 ERA at Fenway, this year he's 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 8.5 K/9.

The Brewers are 8-8 in series openers and 3-3 in Bryse Wilson starts while the Red Sox are 6-10 in series openers and 3-7 in Kutter Crawford starts.

This is sure to be a tough spot for the Red Sox, but they can certainly take this opening game. They've got the momentum as well as the better starting pitcher.

Game 2 on Saturday: Colin Rea vs. Nick Pivetta

Nick Pivetta was very good in his previous start, going six innings, allowing one earned run, and striking out eight in a winning effort against the St. Louis Cardinals. One would have to believe he can bring that momentum into Saturday's contest, though there will assuredly be elevated competition.

On the season, Pivetta is now 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, and 0.7 BB/9. Just for reference, his walks per nine are trending better than George Kirby's (0.8 BB/9)- a pitcher who's well-known for how accurate he is. Pivetta has done a very good job this year at living in the strike zone.

Pivetta has only thrown 5.2 innings at Fenway this season while allowing two earned runs and striking out eight. Perhaps one could look to last year's numbers at Fenway to get a broader scope of how the right-hander performs in Boston. In that case, last year Pivetta went 6-6 with a 4.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 at home.

Opposing the Boston righty will be Colin Rea who's making his first ever appearance against the Red Sox. On the season, he's 3-2 with a 4.07 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9. Like Bryse Wilson, his expected ERA (5.59) is quite elevated from his actual one.

Until recently, Rea was quite good on the road, but now he's pitching to the tune of a 1-1 record with a 4.74 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, and 6.6 K/9 away from American Family Field.

Both pitchers in this matchup have higher FIPs than one would want to see; Pivetta owns a 4.52 FIP while Rea owns a 4.68. Home runs have seemingly bitten both right-handers this early in the season as each has allowed seven long balls.

The Red Sox are 3-2 in Pivetta starts while the Brewers are 6-3 in Rea starts. This is another matchup where it'll be a battle; the Brewers have come through for their mediocre pitching so far in 2024, but there's still a reasonable expectation that the Red Sox should win this game with the better of the two starters in their corner.

Game 3 on Sunday: TBD vs. Tanner Houck

Finally, the Red Sox will likely face a combination of several Brewers pitchers while they trot out their strongest starter so far in Tanner Houck for Game 3.

There's quite a few guys the Sox can face in this game. This will be the fifth day for rookie Robert Gasser, so there's a chance the Sox could see him take the mound. Gasser has impressed so far, going 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 3.14 FIP across 17 innings. His K/9 is a little low at 3.2, but his walks are also quite impressive at a 0.5 BB/9 clip. Gasser could very well be the strongest pitching prospect the Brew Crew has in their system.

They also have four long relief options who can double as starting pitchers in Tobias Myers, Mitch White, Jared Koenig, and Bradley Blalock.

Myers is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, and 6.86 FIP this season across 18 innings in the Big Leagues.

White has thrown for three different teams already this year, but he's pitching to the tune of a 1-1 record, 7.59 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, and 6.42 FIP across 21.1 innings.

Koenig is 4-1 this year with a 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 4.24 FIP.

Blalock, a rookie, has not yet thrown in MLB, but he's 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9 in Double-A this season. Last year, he went 6-1 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 across Single- and High-A.

Any one of these guys could give the Brewers length on Sunday.

It's much simpler on the Red Sox side with Tanner Houck, who has obviously been a revelation this season pitching to a 4-5 record with a 1.94 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 2.21 FIP. Above all else, pounding the strike zone has been the biggest reason for Houck's breakout. His lowest BB/9 for his career was 2.7 in 2021, and he's already beating that by a full walk this year.

At home, the right-hander is 1-3 with a 2.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 8.2 K/9. Like Kutter Crawford, Houck has improved drastically at Fenway in 2024 from what he's done throughout the course of his career (8-16 with a 4.04 ERA).

And for whatever it's worth, the Sox are now 5-5 in Houck starts.

Regardless, this third game of the set, like the first two, will give the Red Sox a distinct advantage in the starting pitching department. Given the fact that they're also coming into this series having swept Tampa Bay while the Brewers got beat by the Miami Marlins, one would be well-within their right to believe the Red Sox should be able to grab at least two of three from the Brew Crew this weekend. They did, after all, take the series from an arguably better Brewers team in Milwaukee last season.