Things to know for the ALCS: Red Sox vs Astros

NBC Sports Boston Staff
NBC Sports Boston

The American League Championship Series will feature the two best teams, record-wise, in baseball. The 108-win Red Sox and the 103-win Houston Astros will face off in the ALCS after the Sox beat the Yankees and the Astros swept the Indians in the Divisional Series. The two teams played each other very closely this season, setting up the series to be a classic.

SEASON SERIES:
@ HOU, Loss, 4-2
@ HOU, Loss, 7-3
@ HOU, Win, 5-4
@ HOU, Win, 9-3
vs HOU, Loss, 6-3
vs HOU, Loss, 5-3
vs HOU, Win, 6-5






NUMBERS TO KNOW:
Houston won series, 4-3
Red Sox runs per game: 4.43
Astros runs per game: 4.86


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BATTLE OF STRENGTHS
This series pits the number one offense in the majors against the number one pitching staff. Boston led MLB in every major offensive category except triples and homers. Houston led the league in ERA, strikeouts, and batting average against. Boston has two MVP candidates in Mookie Betts (.346, 32 HR, 30 SB, .438 OBP) and JD Martinez (.330, 43 HR, 130 RBI). Houston has five aces: Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.52 ERA, 290 K), Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88, 276 K), Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.74), Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.13, 201 K), and Lance McCullers Jr. (10-6, 3.86, 142 K). While the Boston pitching (eighth-best ERA) and Houston batting (sixth in runs) are very good in their own right, this series is about Red Sox bats vs Astros arms.

EOVALDI EFFECT
Nathan Eovaldi career vs. righties: 3.05 K/BB, .249 BAA, .298 OBP
Nathan Eovaldi career vs. lefties: 2.04 K/BB, .288 BAA, .348 OBP

As you can see, Eovaldi is better against righties than lefties. It was actually a big reason why the Red Sox acquired him: to face the right-handed heavy lineup of the Yankees. And he's done very well in that role. In four starts against the Yankees since being acquired, he's pitch 23 innings and allowed just one run.

Houston's big bats are righties, too: George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, and Carlos Correa. Marwin Gonzalez is a lefty and he's been hot this postseason (.538, 2 2B, 5 RBI in ALDS), but most of the threats for the Astros are righties. Expect Eovaldi to have an impact on this series.

PEN PROWESS
Not only do the Astros have the best overall ERA (3.11), but they have the best bullpen ERA (3.03) in the majors. If you run down the bullpen, there really are no weak links.

Will Harris: 5-3, 3.49 ERA, 64 K, 56.2 IP
Josh James: 2-0, 2.35, 29 K, 23.0 IP
Collin McHugh: 6-2, 1.99, 94 K, 72.1 IP
Ryan Pressly: 2-1, 2.54, 101 K, 71.0 IP
Tony Sipp: 3-1, 1.86, 42 K, 38.2 IP
Roberto Asuna: 2-2, 2.37, 32 K, 38.0 IP, 21 SV




That is a stacked bullpen. Harris' 3.49 ERA is the worst in their pen, and it's better than Boston's whole bullpen (3.74). On the bright side, the Red Sox were second in the majors in runs (267) and average (.268) in the seventh inning or later.

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