The Boston Red Sox can beat the Astros in a playoff series

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 04: Mitch Moreland
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 04: Mitch Moreland /

The two best teams in the American League today are the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. But can the Red Sox beat the Astros despite Houston’s dominant lineup?

The answer for the Boston Red Sox? Starting pitching.

Despite a tough win-loss record for defending Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, the Red Sox have stayed afloat due to the dominance of Chris Sale, the consistency of Drew Pomeranz, and yes, the contributions of David Price and Doug Fister.

And, while the series since the All-Star break have been less-than-desirable in terms of outcomes, it’s not because of the starting pitching. In reality, the offensive production from the lineup has been the most disappointing. Never the less, the Red Sox are in first place and current with their 2016 record pace. But what will happen if they end up playing Houston in the Division Series or for the Pennant?

They won’t be able to solely rely on their starting pitching to win games against the Astros. The bullpen succeeding and timely hitting will need to happen as well.

Here is a mock ALCS prediction, should it actually happen.

Game 1: Chris Sale vs. Dallas Keuchel

Sale outduels Keuchel in his postseason debut, going seven innings and giving up two runs. The Red Sox are able to score just enough runs via doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Chris Young. Kimbrel gets his first postseason save with Boston. Red Sox win 4-2.

Game 2: Drew Pomeranz vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

The Red Sox offense surprises early and jumps out to a 5-0 lead. But McCullers settles down and keeps the Astros in the game. Pomeranz only gives up a pair but turns it over to the bullpen where Carson Smith and newcomer Addison Reed gives up a pair of rare home runs respectively. The Red Sox lose the game in extras 6-5 on a RBI double by George Springer.

Game 3: David Price vs. Mike Fiers

In his first playoff start at Fenway, Price dazzles early but gets fatigued in the middle innings, only going 5 1/3. Brian McCann makes him pay with a mammoth home right to right. The top of the order produces for both teams in the middle innings and the score is 5-5 heading into the eighth. Reed slams the door in the eighth and sets up a solo shot from Eduardo Nunez in the bottom frame. Kimbrel has a shaky ninth but the Red Sox leave Game 3 with a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4: Rick Porcello and Collin McHugh

For the sake of a good article, the teams’ four starters make up the matchup for Game 4. Both starters pitched well early, however, their pitch counts accumulate and soon turn this one over to the bullpen. Francisco Liriano deals for the Astros while Matt Barnes runs into trouble against the middle of the lineup. The Sox offense can’t get anything done in the late innings and Ken Giles gets the save.

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Game 5: Chris Sale vs. Dallas Keuchel

In a pivotal Game 5, Chris Sale doesn’t disappoint. The tall lefty goes 7.1 innings with 11 K’s in his Fenway postseason debut, the only blemish coming on a wall-ball RBI double by Alex Bregman. Never the less, Boston cruises to a 5-1 victory.

Game 6: Drew Pomeranz vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

In a return to Houston, Drew Pomeranz gives a solid performance, going six innings and allowing three runs. Meanwhile, McCullers has a similar performance and Houston is ahead 3-2 after six. Following a shutdown seventh by Matt Barnes and Carson Smith, the Red Sox grab the lead in the eighth on a two-run home run by Mookie Betts. Reed gets out of a jam in the bottom half, and Kimbrel gets the save in the ninth.

Next: Chris Sale in a race for AL Cy Young Award

By no means am I Nostradamus, but if the starters perform well enough, the Red Sox beat the Astros in six. So, would you like to see a Boston-Houston matchup in the playoffs where we may get to see Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel duel twice?