With the series tied 1-1, the Red Sox and Astros take their ALCS tussle to Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night. Nathan Eovaldi gets the start for Boston, and Dallas Keuchel will be on the hill for Houston. The Astros are -135 favorites at the majority of sportsbooks, while the Red Sox can be had at +125. The betting total is 8.5 runs.
Eovaldi produced a high-quality start as a big underdog in Game 3 of the ALDS when last seen, pitching seven innings of one-run ball. However, he lost his only start against the Astros this season on June 20, allowing four runs on seven hits, including four home runs. Jose Altuve went deep twice while George Springer and Alex Bregman each added one of their own. In 15 career at-bats against Eovaldi, Altuve has a 1.175 OPS. Carlos Correa has been successful against Eovaldi too, going 4-for-13 lifetime. He has a .364 OBP since the playoffs began.
Keuchel had a solid start against the Indians in the ALDS, allowing two runs in five innings of work. He has a 3.28 ERA in nine postseason starts, which includes 5.2 innings of one-run ball against Boston in the 2017 ALDS. However, Keuchel has a 7.46 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox. He’ll have to pitch carefully to Mookie Betts (3-for-6) and Xander Bogaerts (3-for-9). And J.D. Martinez, who is 0-for-7 to begin the ALCS, could be a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
Alex Cora should not be afraid to go to his bullpen early against the right-handed batting-dominant Houston lineup, as his relievers have excelled against righties in the postseason. Right-handers are batting .106 against Ryan Brasier, .152 against Craig Kimbrel and .180 against Matt Barnes.
Kimbrel got the save in Game 2, but it wasn’t void of drama. Bregman only just missed getting all of a pitch from Kimbrel, as the ball he hit died in the shadow of the Green Monster to become the third and final out of the ninth.
“I missed it,” Bregman told reporters afterwards. “If I got it, it would have been on the street behind Fenway Park.”
A.J. Hinch’s bullpen appears to be stronger than Cora’s. Lance McCullers, who continues to pitch well in high-leverage situations and can deliver multiple innings, could be called upon if Keuchel struggles.
“[McCullers] feeds off that adrenaline and that anxiousness that comes with that time,” Hinch told reporters after his pitcher’s 1-2-3 eighth inning in Game 1.
Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna have been spotless when called upon in this year’s playoffs. If the Red Sox don’t get out to an early lead, they’ll struggle to win Game 3.
Prediction: Astros win, 6-4
The play: Astros – 135
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