The Boston Red Sox are set to take on the Houston Astros in a best-of-five series starting Thursday at 4:08 p.m.
To commemorate this important series, here are the four biggest factors that are going to play a role in the Red Sox winning the series.
“The Secret Weapon” David Price
David Price is going to have a pivotal role this postseason. Since he is not ready to make any legitimate starts yet, he is going to pitching out of the bullpen. He has been in this spot since the middle of September and has provided a great deal of use. He will be used in spots in which someone is needed to eat up innings and/or hold leads for an extended period of time.
Since making these relief appearances, he has tossed a solid 8.2 innings with letting a single run score. This past Saturday, against the Astros, he came in with runners on first and second with no outs. He got out of the inning without falling victim to a run.
Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander Game 1
This game is going to set the tone for the series. If the Red Sox can jump on top of Justin Verlander in a big way, that will set the mood for the remaining games of the series. It’s all about the mental edge. They already have this edge on Lance McCullers Jr. after they beat him up by scoring five times against him last week.
However, unlikely, but if they do manage to do damage on the former Detroit Tiger, that could send up red flags in the entire Houston rotation.
One concerning thing about this series is that Boston has just a .204 batting average against the entire Houston pitching staff this season. That is their second lowest among American League teams. Their team batting average while at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Astros, is at an even worse .189. They have to play the first two games of this series at that facility, and if necessary, a fifth.
In his 2017 campaign, Drew Pomeranz has had his way with the Texas-based club. In his two starts against them, he has put some dazzling numbers. His ERA over a total of 12.1 innings is 1.46, and his WHIP is under 1.0.
He will be and has been playing a major role in the Boston rotation, as the right-hand man to Chris Sale. In the entire postseason run, he will more than likely be going back to back with Sale as the one-two punch. If these two happen to get roughed up, the future will not be all that bright for this team’s chances to win anything.
The Health of Eduardo Nunez and Dustin Pedroia
Eduardo Nunez was forced out of playing contention on Sept. 9 and has only played once since then. He reaggravated his knee in his first game back on the 25th. That forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.
While there is no real timetable on his injury, his presence will be a necessity in the playoffs. He will be needed as Dustin Pedroia also experienced a knee injury earlier in the season. This has been limiting his playing time significantly. This could be used as resting time, but there has been no official word on that.
These two men have platooning at second base for the most part, and it seemed to have been working until the series of injuries. They finished the season with the two highest batting averages among batters on the team. They both also finished within the top four for the highest on-base percentage as-well.
Missing one of these men is bad enough, but if both happen to be injured, that could play a major role in the demise of the offense.