In terms of my own planning, which I know is everyone’s number one concern from the schedule makers to you the readers, it worked out very well for this ALCS to start on a Friday. That allows me to make the easy roundtable question: Who is going to win and in how many games?
To be completely honest, I did not expect the Red Sox to still be here. It’s not that I didn’t think it was possible to beat the big bad Rays, but it took everything we had to beat the Nationals earlier this month. At this point, I’m not going to count this team out. The Astros have the best offense in the league and much better starting pitching. I think the Red Sox lineup can hang with anyone, but the pitching is going to be an issue. If Eovaldi continues to roll, Sale goes on a redemption tour, and Rodriguez picks up where he left off, the Red Sox punch a ticket to the World Series. I’m going to be optimistic and say Red Sox in six.
I’ve been doubting this Red Sox team since the beginning of the year, when I predicted that they would finish with a win total in the low 80’s and miss the playoffs, and they’ve proven me wrong time and time again. With the lineup hitting the way it is, the key to the ALCS will be whether the Sox’ pitching continues to hold up; it’s essential that Chris Sale turns things around, and guys like E-Rod and Nick Pivetta build off their strong ALDS performances. I’m going to doubt them one more time and say the Astros will take the series in 7 games, but at this point, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if I’m wrong.
The Red Sox already knocked off the best team in the American League record-wise in the Rays, so I don’t see what would stop them from knocking off the second-best team in the Astros. With that being said, I believe the Red Sox will need to do what they did against the Rays in order to have a chance against the Astros. In other words, Boston will need to win one of the first two games in Houston on Friday or Saturday. If they do that, they can maintain home field advantage going into the part of the series that will be played at Fenway Park, which they took advantage of in the ALDS. If not, it would not surprise me at all to see a very impressive Astros team win their third American League pennant in the last five seasons.
Bayleigh Von Schneider
The 2021 Red Sox and the ALCS, two things I never believed I’d be saying in the same breath. If you did, well, I don’t want to call you a liar, but I mean, come on, you are simply just a liar. The playoffs are not always about the best team on paper being successful. A lot has to do with being the most red hot team, and well, a team with a great deal of confidence. The 2021 Red Sox is a team playing with all the confidence in the world. The series, I believe, will be a tough played one, the Houston Astros have the advantage in both pitching and lineup depth. The Red Sox might make this a series, but I see the Red Sox losing to the Astros in six games. I hope and pray I am wrong. I was wrong about the ALDS, as I didn’t even think the Red Sox could be Tampa Bay. The 2021 Red Sox, they’re playing with a chip on their shoulders, so I’d nothing more for them to prove me wrong, and play in the Fall Classic. Go Sox.
This series can go well for the Sox, but I think it will depend on the performance of Boston’s starting pitching. It seems like Alex Cora is going to retain his postseason “rover” method, as he employed during the 2018 playoff run. Of course, this strategy consists of deploying starters in larger chunks of relief from the bullpen, and was seen in Game 162, and Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS as well. So far, these appearances have saved Boston from their mediocre starting pitching performances, as Nathan Eovaldi performed well in Game 3, but the same cannot be said for Eduardo Rodriguez in his initial appearance, and Chris Sale in Game 2. This same strategy will probably not go well against the Astros: a team that has close to no gaps in their lineup and will attack any error given to them by Boston’s staff. Therefore not only longevity, but also consistency of Boston’s starters will be vital to win this series. If the bullpen can perform as it has been over the past month or so, coupled with this starting pitching improvement, I would infer that the Sox have a good chance to win this series.
After what the Astros just did to the White Sox, it’s difficult to expect them not to win this series because of how good their offense is. They scored 7.75 runs per game in the ALDS and that was after posting a MLB-best mark in wRC+ (116) during the regular season. Taking all rooting interest out of it, I think the Astros will win this series in five games. However, I also thought the Rays would take out the Red Sox fairly easily and Tampa Bay was fourth in MLB in wRC+ in the regular season (109), so here’s hoping I’m wrong again.
The Red Sox are going to beat the Astros - but it’s going to take at least six games. Lance McCullers is out but Chris Sale has looked shaky for a few weeks. Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, E-Rod, and Nick Pivetta will have to repeat their ALDS performances. Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez will, hopefully, be a little healthier.
The Houston Astros are starting off with Fernando Valdez and Luis Garcia. The Red Sox get to send their aces. And that’s going to be the key. It might take a few games in the middle to battle through but, somehow, the Sox were dealt the better hand in lineup construction. Thanks for that, White Sox.
I’m going Astros in 5. They’re the better, deeper team and for as much as I don’t want it to happen I think they will handle things fairly easily.
I learned my lesson. Doubt this team at your own risk. Just because I can’t make heads or tails of how this team is going to perform doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of performing at an elite level. The Red Sox didn’t look good against Tampa Bay during the year and they beat them handily. The Red Sox looked hapless against the Yankees during much of the second half and then trounced them at home. So I fully expect the Red Sox to take care of the Astros in six games and head to the World Series. All of this probably means they will defy my expectations and get swept, such is the way of the 2021 Red Sox.
The five days of drama, twists and turns, clutch hits, and late nights that we saw in the Rays vs. Red Sox series was likely just an appetizer for what we will see over the next nine days. There is a ton of playoff experience on both sides and two lineups that don’t give the opposing staff a chance to breathe. The Astros hitting led MLB in numerous metrics, giving them a slight edge. Their entire lineup, with the exception of Maldonado, has a wRC+ over 110. Their best hitter by that metric, Kyle Tucker at 147, usually hits seventh! Yuli Gurriel was a sneaky AL batting champ, and Yordan Alvarez is a budding superstar, in addition to the cast of characters that you already know.
If Lance McCullers is out for the series and replaced in the rotation by Jake Odorizzi, the Red Sox staff has the edge. Tanner Houck and Christian Javier will play similar relevant roles as the long man out of the bullpen with starter experience, who could become the de facto starter if an arm is knocked out of the game early. This Astros team will not be intimidated by the big moment, in fact they’ll thrive off the hate at Fenway. They’re all used to it. On our ALCS preview podcast, I went with Astros in six, but a McCullers absence would level the playing field greatly. I’ll shift to Astros in seven if he is out, but I won’t be shocked one bit if “Dancing On My Own” is blaring from the visiting locker room speakers in Houston next weekend.
I said in the ALCS preview podcast that my prediction was Astros in five, but that was before Lance McCullers Jr. was left off Houston’s roster with an injury. I think that’s a significant enough injury to make me change my thought process here. That said, my change goes from thinking this will be easy for Houston to it being a bit more drawn out. But at the end of the day, this offense is too relentless, and puts too much pressure on defenses, for me to think the Red Sox can win four games. I expect a fight, and this team is built for defying expectations, but I’ll go Houston in seven.