…simple as that.
Nope, I am not just copying the post from right before the previous series against the New York Yankees, though this may seem to be the case.
It’s just that this time a different starting pitcher may now be the key to the Boston Red Sox’ success in the American League Championship Series.
Last round, we talked about Chris Sale. Though Sale wasn’t quite at the level we know he can get to, he was pretty good in Game One. We all likely wondered how he would look the second time around in Game Five, but I think we are also all glad it didn’t get to that point. Most importantly, the fact that Sale was able to come out in the eighth inning of Game Four and mow the side down on 13 pitches was hopefully pretty telling. That he was able to bounce back nicely in between starts and would be even more good to go for his next one. Hopefully.
That leaves us with the Sox’ other “ace”, David Price. A disaster in Game Two at Fenway against the Yanks, he is now again slated for Game Two against the Houston Astros. Mistake? Perhaps.
We all know the postseason numbers, 0-9 in 10 starts, ERA over 6.00…yada, yada, yada. Embarrassing for a pitcher of his caliber…and of course at his current salary level.
Can it change? Can Price finally do something right in a start and be a “hero”? Get the hometown fans on his side for once?
I deem that unlikely. I would say most others do as well.
In addition to the poor career postseason stats, Price himself came up with some other beauties this year. He can’t pitch in the cold…his fingers get tingly. Or do they get tingly because of the carpal tunnel, from which he laughably says playing video games don’t affect that? Sure buddy. Then there was some stuff about being allergic to dogs or grass or something. Honestly, the guy is such an arseclown that I’ve lost track of all the excuses.
Let’s face it, Price has to take a start in this series. Because if he doesn’t, are you giving that one to Brian Johnson, Hector Velasquez or Drew Pomeranz? No thanks. Eduardo Rodriguez perhaps, but are we at the point where he can’t really give you a ton of innings now since he hasn’t started much in recent weeks? I don’t know, but something to think about. Either way, wouldn’t it be better to give Price only ONE start, say Game Four? That way, since he actually has a good track record of pitching well in relief in the postseason, maybe he can throw a few innings in Game Seven, should the series get there. Also, Houston will be warmer for him, though admittedly the dimensions of that field, as opposed to Fenway, may be a worse scenario for him. But still…
This is not to say that Nathan Eovaldi or Rick Porcello are better pitchers than Price. They are not, though they both pitched well against New York in the Division Series. But Porcello doesn’t necessarily have a sterling postseason career record either. And Eovaldi has only that one playoff start to his credit. A great one, but just that one nonetheless. But they maybe should have priority in the ALCS because they are quite simply pitching better NOW.
I suppose, either way, manager Alex Cora is going to do plenty of mixing and matching with his pitching staff all series long. Starters pitching in relief and all that. Anything to get outs. Unless you want to see Joe Kelly in a close game, that is. Which absolutely no one wants. Except for the opposition.
So maybe it all doesn’t matter? We’ll see…but with Price having to potentially make two starts in this series is concerning. And he better not lay two more eggs. That makes him a huge key to the series.
Since it seems that all we do in this space is make predictions, let’s see how things stack up on paper for the teams:
The Red Sox top four of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts are pretty damn good. But are the Astros’ top four of George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel even better? Could be. But let’s call it a wash. The rest of the lineup? Astros all the way. Looks like 5-7 is some combination of Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick. None of those guys have performed like they did in 2017 when the Astros won the World Series. Correa has been hurt of course. But wouldn’t you still take these guys over the Sox’ 5-7 of Steve Pearce/Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez/Rafael Devers and Ian Kinsler/Brock Holt? I would. Top it off with anyone the Astros throw out there at 8-9 will be better offensively than Jackie Bradley Jr. and whoever the catcher is. Looks to me like the Astros have the edge here top to bottom.
Not going to spend a lot of time here because I have to admit I don’t watch a lot of Houston Astros games to know specific defensive skill sets. But on a macro level…at catcher, while Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez can certainly handle the defense for the Sox, Martin Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year, for whatever that’s worth. If Pearce, Holt and Devers are out there, the Sox infield defense probably pales in comparison to the ‘Stros. Though, I know, Holt is good enough at second. The outfield most certainly goes to the Sox. Sssssooo…an edge here either way? I’m not sure there is one.
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton against Sale, Price, Eovaldi and Porcello. Can’t be any debate here. At first, I was thinking Astros by a mile. But at a deeper glance, it’s probably closer than we think. Sale and Verlander are probably a wash. Cole a huge gap over Price. But the other four could go either way. Though Morton was sensational last year in the playoffs. So you kind of have to give the edge to Houston here, no doubt.
We have written (and spoken) ad nauseam about the Red Sox’ bullpen woes. And now their closer has had problems getting people out. With Lance McCullers likely in the ‘pen for the ‘Stros, along with Collin McHugh and Ryan Pressly, who seemed to have been lights out, there are some strong middle guys right off the top. Add in some other useful pieces such as Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith before you get to Roberto Osuna, now you’re talking. Although Osuna is apparently a piece of crap in real life and the Sox have had success against him in the past, how does he look compared to Craig Kimbrel at this very moment? Shoot, it looks like the Astros don’t even have Chris Devenski, Will Harris and Brad Peacock on their active roster for this series. And those guys have been pretty valuable over the years. Landslide here for Houston.
People locally have been acting like Cora and A.J. Hinch are equals. But didn’t Hinch’s team win the World Series last year? Yes, with Cora’s help of course. But still. And though Cora has done a great job with the Sox this year, this is still his first year managing anywhere, so also we need to remember it is his first foray into the postseason. We all saw first-time manager Aaron Boone puke on himself in the ALDS. Who is to say Cora doesn’t do the same in the ALCS? I’m not saying he will, but we have to consider the possibility for sure. Hinch has been there. Cora has not…as a head guy. That counts.
Adding it all up? What it says “on paper” to me is Houston in five. That’s what the Blowhard is going with. Hope the Sox make it closer of course. And if they can get it back to Fenway for Games Six and/or Seven, maybe things go their way. And that’s why they play the games…
Posted on October 13, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged A.J. Hinch, Aaron Boone, ALCS, Alex Cora, American League, American League Championship Series, Boston Red Sox, Carlos Correa, Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, David Price, Fenway Park, Gerrit Cole, Goerge Springer, Houston Astros, J.D. Martinez, Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, matchups, Mookie Betts, New York Yankees, Postseason, predictions, relief pitching, Roberto Osuna, World Series, Xander Bogaerts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.