Boston Red Sox: How Chris Sale matches up vs. Houston Astros

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Chris Sale /

In Game 1 of the 2017 America League Division Series, Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale will attempt to keep a dangerous Houston Astros offense in check.

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Your back-to-back American League East champion Boston Red Sox will take the field in the first game of a best-of-five playoff series. Pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming.

On the hill in Game 1, to nobody’s surprise, is Chris Sale. He is a man who needs no introduction, but I’m going to give him one anyway. Sale leads the MLB with 308 strikeouts on the year. That’s 40, yes FORTY more than Max Scherzer, the man with the second most strikeouts this season.

In 2017, Sale is 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97. He has been dominant in many games, but has shown vulnerability late in the season. How will he fare in his first career playoff start against an incredible Astros lineup?

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 26: Chris Sale /

How Chris Sale Stacks Up

The Astros, statistically, are the best hitting team in Major League Baseball. As a team, they lead the league in batting average, hits, doubles, OBP, slugging, and OPS. They’re second in the MLB in home runs. Four different players have at least 23 home runs, and three more have at least 18.

Leading the way for the Astros is the MLB batting title-holder and soon-to-be American League MVP Jose Altuve. Altuve has been nothing short of incredible and is a shoe-in to cause the Red Sox some trouble.

What’s most impressive about the Astros, however, is their extremely high rate of contact. For a team with such high power numbers, it’s astounding that they have the fewest strikeouts in the MLB. It will be very interesting to see them match up against the MLB’s K leader.

Though this offense is scary on paper, they have struggled in their careers vs. Chris Sale. The only player who has more than 3 career hits against Sale is Jose Altuve. Shocker. Not coincidentally, Altuve is the only Astro to have a career batting average above .250 against Sale.

This Astros lineup is batting a pedestrian .209 in their careers vs. Sale with an OBP of just .222 and a slugging of .313. Take Altuve out of the equation and their team average vs. Sale drops to .170.

Unlike teams in the AL East, the Astros have not yet encountered Chris Sale this season. Having not seen his stuff, they will struggle early on in the game. Expect some K’s the first (and hopefully second) time through the order.

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Entering the Unknown

As I mentioned before, this will be Chris Sale’s first career playoff start. So, while we don’t know exactly what to expect, we can assume that Sale is fired up in advance of losing his postseason virginity.

"In a post on WEEI, Chris Sale is quoted as saying “”For me, just it’s going to be hard not to but try not to put too much emphasis on it. Just try to treat this just like another game. You get a little amped up sometimes and that can kind of go crazy. So I’m going to just try to go out there and pitch my game and act like this is just another one along the way.”"

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my Chris Sale how I like my favorite song by Gnarls Barkley: Crazy. It’s no secret to anyone in Boston that Sale has a few screws loose upstairs. That, however, is what makes him so good. Sale’s competitiveness is what allows him to go deep into games and give the Sox a chance to win every time he pitches.

I have a feeling that the dog mentality in Chris Sale will show tonight and the Astros will be in trouble as a result. The lanky lefty is going to do whatever it takes to keep them off-balance.


I may be biased and optimistic, but pessimistic is no way to live, my fellow Sox fans. I predict 7 complete innings from Chris Sale while giving up only 1 run on 5 hits. He will be focused, competitive, and hungry for postseason success.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Predicting the entire 2017 MLB Postseason

As for the Red Sox offense, they will have their hands full with Justin Verlander, who has been scary good since joining Houston. I think they will manufacture runs like they’ve been doing all year, but I think this one will be a pitcher’s duel for the most part.

Final Prediction: Boston Red Sox 4, Houston Astros 1.