The Boston Red Sox will head to Texas to take on the Houston Astros in the biggest series to this point in the season as the Red Sox are behind the Astros by 3.5 games in the American League Wild Card race; the Astros are currently the fifth seed. The Red Sox are coming in off a series sweep over the New York Yankees, outscoring them 22-9. The Astros are coming in after being swept by the Seattle Mariners being outscored 19-9. Last season the Red Sox went 4-2 against the Astros even though they were outscored 26-21.
Boston Red Sox (66-58) vs. Houston Astros (70-55)
Date: Monday, August 21
Time: 8:10 PM EST
Date: Tuesday, August 22
Time: 8:10 PM EST
Date: Wednesday, August 23
Time: 8:10 PM EST
Date: Thursday, August 24
Time: 2:10 PM EST
Probable Pitching Matchups
Game 1: James Paxton (7-3, 3.34 ERA) vs. Christian Javier (8-2, 4.49 ERA)
Paxton will get the second game of the series, making his 17th start of the season. In his last start, he faced the Nationals going six innings, giving up two runs on five hits; he walked one and struck out three. He posts a 4.08 FIP, a 1.13 WHIP, a 2.4 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. Paxton has made 16 starts against the Astros, going 9-4 with a 3.13 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. Paxton will face Christian Javier, who is making his 24th start. Javier posts a 4.63 FIP, a 1.22 WHIP, a 3.1 BB/9, and an 8.2 K/9. In his career against the Red Sox, he has made five appearances, with one of those being a start; he is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and an 11.5 K/9.
Game 2: Tanner Houck (3-6, 5.05 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (8-6, 3.37 ERA)
Houck returns to the Red Sox rotation as he gets the series starts. It will be his first start since June 16, when he got hit in the face by a line drive in a game against the Yankees; in that game, he went four innings giving up one run on four hits; he walked one and struck out two. This season before the injury, he posted a 4.21 FIP, a 1.25 WHIP, a 3.1 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9. In his career against the Astros, he has made four appearances, all in relief; he posts a 6.00 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP, and a 3.9 K/9. Justin Verlander will oppose Houck for the Astros. Verlander is making his 20th start of the season and his fourth since being acquired by the Astros from the New York Mets. Verlander combined this season posts a 3.83 FIP, a 1.19 WHIP, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 7.5 K/9; with the Astros, he posts a 3.93 FIP, a 1.44 WHIP, a 2.0 BB/9, and a 6.5 K/9. In his career against the Red Sox, Verlander has made 24 appearances with 23 starts; he is 8-8 with a 2.92 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and a 7.5 K/9.
Game 3: Chris Sale (5-3, 4.50 ERA) vs. Jose Urquidy (2-3, 5.21 ERA)
Sale will get the series’ third game against the Astros, making his 14th start of the season and his third since returning from the injured list. He posts a 3.75 FIP, a 1.11 WHIP, a 2.4 BB/9, and a 10.7 K/9. His last start came against the Nationals, and he went 4.1 innings giving up three runs, only two earned on two hits; he walked three and struck out three. In his career against the Astros, he has appeared in 14 games making 13 starts going 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9. Sale will face Jose Urquidy, who is making the ninth start for the Astros and his tenth appearance of the season; he posts a 4.98 FIP, a 1.42 WHIP, a 3.1 BB/9, and an 8.1 K/9. In his career against the Red Sox, he has made four starts going 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9.
Game 4: Brayan Bello (9-7, 3.70 ERA) vs. J.P. France (9-4, 2.75 ERA)
Bello will get the series’ final game against the Astros, making his 22nd start of the season. His last start came against the Yankees on Friday night, in which he pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits; he walked one and struck out four. Bello posts a 4.35 FIP, a 1.25 WHIP, a 2.3 BB/9, and a 7.5 K/9. In his career against the Astros, he has made one appearance going 0.2 innings, giving up just two hits, and recording two strikeouts. Bello will J.P. France, who is making his 19th appearance and 18th start of the season; he posts a 4.15 FIP, a 1.21 WHIP, a 2.6 BB/9, and a 6.7 K/9. France has never faced the Red Sox in his career.
Red Sox vs. Astros Batting Leaders
This will be a tough series for the Red Sox, and the pitching matchups will be fun to watch. The Red Sox need to take three out of four from the Astros, and that will set them up in a nice spot as they face them again next week for three more games. If the Red Sox bats and pitching stay hot as they did against the Yankees, three of four should be no problem, but I think this series will be a split, with each team winning two.