Red Sox at Astros – MLB Pick for October 6th
Heading into Thursday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series, most expected a pitcher’s duel. Justin Verlander going up against Chris Sale made for quite the tasty starting pitching matchup, indeed. Unfortunately for Boston, Chris Sale’s first career postseason start didn’t go well. The lanky lefty was knocked around to the tune of seven earned runs on nine hits, including three home runs, in five innings of work. The Astros would go on to win, 8-2.
Facing a potential 0-2 hole, the Red Sox will turn to fellow left-hander Drew Pomeranz on Friday afternoon. Pomeranz is far from the biggest name on the Red Sox’ pitching staff, but he’s quietly put together a very solid 2017 campaign. In 32 starts, the 28-year-old went 17-6 with a tidy 3.32 ERA.
Unfortunately, there are a few worrisome trends with Pomeranz. He’s always been a guy that struggles to stay healthy, and he may not be 100 percent at the moment. While his fastball usually hovers in the 92-93 mile-an-hour range, it’s been consistently closer to 90 for his last few outings.
Pomeranz is a fastball/curveball pitcher that succeeds when changing the eye level of the hitter. Whenever his fastball velocity is down, it’s easier for hitters to adjust to the speed of the slower curveball. Pomeranz is a guy that has shown strikeout capabilities, but if his fastball velocity is down he’s going to struggle to miss bats, especially against an Astros lineup that struck out fewer times than any other team in baseball.
The Red Sox hitters will have to deal with another southpaw in Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel hasn’t quite been himself in the second half of the season, but he did pitch pretty well in September. The former Cy Young Award winner went 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA across five September starts.
We know what to expect from Keuchel. He’s not going to blow anyone away with velocity and rack up strikeouts. Instead, he depends on pitching consistently low in the zone in order to induce weak ground balls. Keuchel’s strikeout rate of 21.4 percent is above-average, but nothing special. The ground ball rate, however, is 66.8 percent, which ranks first in the majors.
Keuchel has been death on lefties and not all that much more hittable for righties. That said, it’s safe to say we can expect Boston to start eight or nine right-handed sticks against him today.
The Astros are fairly heavy favorites at home once again today at -186 on the moneyline. The value play is on the desperate Red Sox at +161, but we are worried about Pomeranz’ current form, as well as the fact that he’s facing an Astros lineup that is absolutely raking right now.