Astros vs. Red Sox Odds
|Red Sox Odds||-116|
|Over/Under||9 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.|
The Astros have become a real pest for the Red Sox, and I’m not sure that Boston knows what to do about them. Houston won three out of four games when it hosted Boston last week. Now the Astros are one game away from completing a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
Zack Greinke is expected to start on the mound for Houston, and Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez will oppose him.
This year, the series has really been a one-sided affair: The Astros have outscored the Red Sox by a combined score of 34-13. Unfortunately for Boston, Rodriguez was involved in one of those games last Monday, giving up six runs in an 11-2 defeat.
When you factor in Rodriguez’s recent performance and the Astros’ success against left-handed pitching, it becomes clear that the Red Sox will face a stiff challenge to avoid the sweep at home.
Houston’s Remarkable Postseason Run
It’s been quite a run for the Houston Astros over the last four years. They won over 100 games in three consecutive seasons. Then last year, Houston reached the ALCS as a wild card team with a 29-31 regular-season record.
In fact, Houston has at least reached the ALCS in each of the last four seasons. I don’t think Houston’s postseason success is discussed frequently about enough; it’s a shame that the organization’s true notoriety will be the sign-stealing scandal.
There’s no question that the Astros have been one of the most talented teams in baseball recently. But they didn’t need to tip the scales so egregiously in their favor to win ballgames. We witnessed the team’s quality last year when it battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS and won the next three games to force Game 7.
Many pundits questioned how the Astros would survive after losing George Springer to the Blue Jays in free agency. However, Houston has been losing key players from its team every year since winning the World Series in 2017. Moreover, the Astros offense has been impressive yet again this season while all the talk has been about Spider Tack and other foreign substances that pitchers are using to gain an advantage over hitters.
The Best Offense In Baseball
Houston leads the league with a wRC+ value of 121. The Astros’ .271 batting average is the highest in MLB by a long shot, and their 18.1% strikeout rate is also best in the league.
Their lineup poses a significant problem for opposing pitchers, because they rarely get themselves out, nor have unproductive at-bats. Opposing pitchers are under constant pressure when facing the Astros; it’s no surprise that Houston has scored the most runs (328) in MLB.
Still, there certainly have been some good and bad spells for Houston this season. The Astros lost multiple players for several games following a COVID-19 breakout in their locker room. That was their worst stretch of games, during which they went 1-10.
Outside of that, they’ve won six-of-seven games twice this season, eight-of-nine once, and now they’re in the midst of an 8-2 run.
When this team gets cooking, it’s best to stay out of its way.
Astros’ Dominance Against Lefties
Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez is quite familiar with the pressure that comes with facing Houston’s lineup. In five starts against the Astros, Rodriguez is just 1-3 with a 7.84 ERA.
Houston’s current lineup has 54 at-bats against the left-hander, and collectively they’ve produced a .352/.410/.685 slash line. If that’s not concerning enough, then maybe the Astros’ 1.095 OPS against him will grab your attention. Or their .462 wOBA. How about a .333 ISO?
These numbers are flat-out scary for any team, and Houston has more than enjoyed its bouts with opposing pitchers — particularly southpaws. When facing left-handed pitching, Houston ranks second in MLB with a .288 average, first with a .350 OBP, and reports a 16.6% strikeout rate.
The Astros also lead the league with 31 home runs in this spot. That could be problematic for Rodriguez, particularly with the Green Monster in right field. Rodriguez’s current 1.40 HR/9 ratio is the highest of his career, and Houston’s lineup has already hit five home runs in their 54 at-bats against him.
The Astros offense has terrorized the opposing team’s starting pitching — and the Red Sox are still feeling the effects from Tuesday’s game, when Martin Perez lasted only two innings in a 7-1 loss.
Boston has three relief-pitchers who have thrown over 39 pitches during the last three days. Contrast that with Houston, which only reports one such pitcher in its bullpen. The last thing a manager wants is to have a tired pitcher face this Astros lineup.
If Red Sox can’t get any length out of Rodriguez on Thursday, it could be ‘Good night, Charlie’ before they know it.
Astros vs. Red Sox Pick
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Greinke has had his share of struggles against the Red Sox: He’s 2-5 with a 4.60 ERA against them. Nonetheless, Greinke enters Thursday’s game in good form, brandishing a 4-1 record and 2.37 ERA during his last five starts.
For me, the story of this game is all about Houston’s offense.
Earlier I mentioned the huge disparity in runs scored (34-13) during Houston’s and Boston’s six games this season. I think the Astros are on one of their streaks, and now is not the time to step in front of that train. Houston will only improve as the season wears on, particularly when Justin Verlander returns from injury.
After running the numbers, my model makes the Astros a -123 favorite, so I like the value on their current price of -102 at FanDuel.
Pick: Astros (-102)