Monday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Astros vs. Red Sox Betting Preview for Game 3
Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Houston’s Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa.
Astros vs. Red Sox Odds
|Red Sox Odds||-120|
|Over/Under||9 (-120 / +100)|
|Time||8:08 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
Boston ended Game 2 almost as soon as it started, with grand slams by J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers in the first and second innings, respetively. Once leading 8-0, the Red Sox cruised to a comfortable 9-5 win to level the series at one apiece.
The ALCS now shifts to Fenway Park in Boston for the next three games in a spot where Houston was expecting to have ace right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. to pitch. McCullers experienced a forearm injury in the ALDS, though, and is not on the roster for this series. The Astros instead turn to José Urquidy for his first start of these playoffs. Urquidy was expected to start Game 3 of the ALDS before a rainout.
Boston counters with lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who started Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS and had mixed results. The Red Sox lineup has been red-hot and is returning home, but Urquidy is the better starter. Houston has the edge in the bullpen and the Astros lineup’s success against lefties makes them undervalued in this game.
Astros’ Offense Should Back Solid Urquidy
No team in all of baseball was better against left-handed pitching this season than Houston. The Astros’ 117 wRC+ vs. LHPs was tops in the league, and they also had the lowest strikeout rate, the fourth best wOBA and one of the lowest groundball rates.
The lineup projects out really well against lefties because of José Altuve (.789 OPS), Alex Bregman (.844), Carlos Correa (.839) and Yuli Gurriel (.925), who all have excellent OPS numbers against southpaws.. But the Astros also feature lefty Yordan Alvarez in the middle of their lineup, one of the rare left-handed batters with reverse splits as he hits lefties slightly better than righties.
Urquidy is one of the more interesting pitchers in all of MLB because of his solid underlying metrics despite a low strikeout rate. Urquidy has only struck out 7.6 batters per nine innings this year, but has a sub 1.0 WHIP and a 3.62 ERA and 3.89 xERA. Most importantly, Urquidy has a 4.5% walk rate, and his elite control keeps traffic off the bases.
He hasn’t pitched in these playoffs, but he has made eight playoff appearances in his career, including four starts. In those starts, he’s gone at least four innings each time and allowed one or fewer runs in three of them. He flies under the radar in this Astros staff but may become a bigger part of this series with injuries to McCullers and now Game 2 starter Luis Garcia. In 25 2/3 playoff innings, he’s walked just eight batters and allowed eight earned runs.
While single-game pitching samples don’t mean much of anything, Urquidy did throw six innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox this season and has seen this lineup before. He won’t be phased by the road playoff atmosphere and his pitch mix of four plus pitches should keep the Red Sox lineup from keying in on him the first two times through the order.
Tough Matchup For Red Sox’s Rodriguez
Rodriguez has been net unlucky throughout the 2021 season because of a low strand rate and is due for some positive regression on that end. But Monday’s matchup with Houston is one of the worst he’ll have all season. The Astros’ success against lefties aside, Rodriguez’s improved 2021 numbers have come with an increase in strikeouts, but he’s facing a lineup that puts a ton of balls in play and doesn’t strike out.
When the Rays loaded up their lineup with righties in Game 1 of the ALDS, Rodriguez struggled to get through the order more than once and was pulled in the second inning. Houston can put six righties in its lineup and add a lefty who has reverse splits in Alvarez.
Rodriguez doesn’t have overpowering stuff to make batters miss in the zone, a major key against Houston’s lineup. He doesn’t generate a lot of whiffs or chases — 51st percentile in whiff rate and 63th in chase rate — which means the Astros’ lineup should get to him and force the Red Sox to the bullpen early.
The main bullpen length option is righty Nick Pivetta, who was excellent in long relief in Game 3 against Tampa Bay. His number one issue in the past, though, is control and walk rate. He generates even fewer whiffs and chases and is in the 29th percentile in walk rate. If he doesn’t generate chases, Houston may get a lot of free bases.
After that, the Red Sox bullpen has now blown leads in three of their last four games. It’s a unit that hasn’t been great all year, and as Houston gets more looks at them, the Astros’ hitters should key in on the main high leverage guys.
Astros-Red Sox Pick
I’m higher on Urquidy than most and have seen him as consistently undervalued in the betting market all season. But given how well Boston has been hitting the ball, I don’t trust the Astros to piece together 27 outs and get through Game 3 unscathed.
I do trust the Astros’ bats to do what they’ve done all season — crush left-handed pitching. Like they did to Chris Sale in Game 1, the Astros should chase Rodriguez out of the game pretty early and force Boston to overextend its bullpen yet again.
In a series that’s had 23 runs in the first two games, I don’t expect Boston to shut down Houston in Game 3. In lieu of playing the Astros on the moneyline, play them on the derivative team total over 4.5 runs at -110 or better. Because while the Red Sox bats may remain hot and take this game, Houston should exploit matchup edges and score plenty of runs.
Pick: Astros team total over 4.5 runs (-105)