MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Red Sox vs. Astros: Can Chris Sale Stop Houston Offense in Game 4?

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Red Sox vs. Astros: Can Chris Sale Stop Houston Offense in Game 4? article feature image
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Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Framber Valdez

Astros vs. Red Sox Odds

Astros Odds +110
Red Sox Odds -121
Over/Under 9.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 5:08 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

A series that felt over just three games in suddenly has new life with the Astros’ come-from-behind victory on Tuesday night. Houston has now snatched back home-field advantage from the Red Sox with two of the next three games coming in Texas, but it will first have to face the daunting task of containing this brilliant offense in Boston.

The Red Sox were humbled at the plate for the first time all series in Game 3. Can they get back to dominating at the plate? Let’s take a look at the numbers below.

Astros Need Length From Valdez

The Astros rose from the dead on Tuesday night thanks to some exceptional work from their bullpen — which is not something we’ve said a lot in 2021. Brooks Raley, Cristian Javier, Phil Maton and Kendall Graveman kept the Red Sox at bay long enough for Jose Altuve to tie the game in the eighth before the floodgates opened in a seven-run ninth. Now, Houston is back in this series — but at what cost?

The Astros’ Achilles heel this entire season — and in October — has been their bullpen. Entering Wednesday, Houston’s relievers own a 3.74 ERA this postseason after an ERA of 4.06 during the regular season. There have been a few bright spots, and Tuesday’s win was certainly one.

With that being said, you have to wonder what this unit has in the tank on Wednesday. Javier was forced to work three innings, which pretty much takes him out of Game 5, and Graveman’s likely unavailable after throwing 30 pitches across two innings. That means that the Astros will effectively be without their two best relievers entering the most important game of the season.

Because of this, they’ll need a strong start from Framber Valdez — something they didn’t get in a Game 1 win. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks. He pitches to contact, which doesn’t always play in parks like Fenway or Minute Maid, and the Red Sox’ ability to get the ball in the air and work counts has worked to his detriment. Valdez’s command problems have come back after a low 5.6% walk rate last year, rising to 10.1% this season.

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Red Sox’s Offense Looks To Pick It Back Up

Though he did give up five hits in his Game 1 start in Houston, it was encouraging to see Chris Sale continue to pump in his fastball at an average of 95.3 mph, according to Statcast. The lefty is still trying to find himself after Tommy John surgery, but making it through with just a run against his name has to be considered a win for him (and Adam Ottavino, who got out of a jam with two inherited runners).

Boston’s bullpen has looked pretty good in this series, all things considered, with a few exceptions. One would be Tanner Houck and Hansel Robles blowing Game 1, and the other would naturally be Martin Perez and Nate Eovaldi letting Boston’s grip on this series slip in Game 4. Other than that, the core of this bullpen has been pretty effective. It would not be surprising to see the Red Sox pull Sale early once again if he runs into trouble.

Boston’s offense has been unseasonably hot this postseason, so if all else fails, it has proven it can flat-out out-slug the Astros. The Red Sox have now hit a league-best 21 homers in the postseason, 10 better than the Astros in second-place, who have clubbed 11.

They have the top OPS at .909 and a ridiculous 100 hits in 333 at-bats. There’s no stopping this offense, and even though they don’t prefer hitting lefties, they still owned a 102 wRC+ against southpaws this regular season and have beaten up on some Astros left-handers.

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Astros-Red Sox Pick

The Astros earned some respect back with a massive win, but the margins were mighty thin. If not for a borderline call from Laz Diaz with two outs and two strikes on Jason Castro, we may be sitting here talking about how Houston’s bats are still asleep at the wheel, and to hit Martin Perez is no great feat for a competent lineup.

The fact of the matter here is that two of Houston’s best weapons out of the bullpen worked a combined five innings on Tuesday with the team desperate for a win. That’s going to put the Astros in an ugly spot should Valdez falter, and I do expect him to face some adversity against an offense that has also led the postseason in walks with 34. The left-hander simply took a step back this year and has carried that into October.

The Red Sox should actually be in a decent place even if Sale struggles, considering they only used three true “relievers” and still have Tanner Houck fresh in the bullpen. I think Sale’s fastball velocity and performance down the stretch give him the benefit of the doubt here anyway, and he should finally make it out of the third inning.

Pick: Red Sox ML (-121)

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