Zylbert: Can Chris Sale Atone For Last Year’s ALDS Opposite Astros?

Zylbert: Can Chris Sale Atone For Last Year’s ALDS Opposite Astros? article feature image

Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at Fenway Park.

Betting odds: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox (ALCS Game 1)

  • Over/Under: 7.5
  • First Pitch: 8:09 p.m. ET (TBS)
  • Probable Pitchers: Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.52 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11 ERA)

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record
Regular Season: 102-73-4, +21.35 units
Postseason: 3-5-1, -2.9 units
Yesterday’s Result: Dodgers-Brewers Under 7.5, Kershaw vs. Gonzalez (loss)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

In Game 1 of this year’s American League Championship Series, there will be two starting pitchers who know each other very well squaring off to commence this rematch between AL powerhouses.

Of course, it was in last year’s ALDS when these two clubs first hooked up in postseason play — with Houston easily dispatching the AL East champs en route to ultimately securing their first title in franchise history.

Does a similar outcome await in 2018?

That remains to be seen, but the series opener will be interesting to watch unfold, as Justin Verlander and Chris Sale renew an old rivalry they shared from their days in the AL Central. In fact, this is the eighth time these two will be facing one another.

For what it’s worth, Verlander is 3-0 in the previous seven meetings, logging a 2.06 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .207 batting average against, according to STATS. Sale, meanwhile, is 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and .261 BAA opposite Verlander’s side.

Those are solid numbers all around and you can expect more of the same in this affair. First of all, you have to love how Sale has fared in his return to the playoffs after laying an egg in his postseason debut a year ago against these same Astros.

In the ALDS, he looked like his regular self, first beating the rival Yankees with an effective performance in the opener. He then played a vital role closing out the series out by pitching a dominant eighth inning in Game 4 to set the theatrics for closer Craig Kimbrel.

That version of Sale is what people should get accustomed to during postseason play. Obviously, when he’s on, the former White Sox ace is as dominant as anyone in the game.

He appears to be back to 100% health after the club monitored his workload throughout September. I like his mindset, too, calling last year’s experience in the playoffs “one of those things that you learn more from your mistakes than you do sometimes your successes.”

In other words, he’ll be very eager to begin this ALCS and continue to atone for his uncharacteristic failures last October.

As for Verlander, well, we shouldn’t have to worry about where he is mentally heading into the opener. After all, he’s pitched in plenty of big games throughout his 14-year career. He’s 12-6 in 22 career postseason starts (and one relief appearance) to go with a 3.08 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 10.1 K/9.

If you take out his five World Series outings, Verlander is actually 12-2 in the LDS and LCS combined, with his ERA dipping down to a terrific 2.46 — that also includes some nice work versus the Red Sox in last year’s ALDS, in which he picked up a pair of victories.

Yes, it’s two legitimate mammoth offenses we’re dealing with but in the end, I think it will be strong starting pitching that has the upper hand in delivering this under.

Play: UNDER 7.5 (-120)