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Red Sox vs. Astros Series Preview

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The Red Sox look for revenge against the Astros at Fenway Park.

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Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Crawfish Boxes

The opponent in one sentence

The disgraced former World Series champions are trying to start anew, but their strikeout rate is still lowest in baseball by a mile, raising the suspicions of conspiracy theorists everywhere.

Record

33-26

Head-to-Head Record

1-3

Trend

Up! After a brief dip at the end of May where they lost six of seven, the ‘Stros have won six of their last ten and back-to-back series against the Sox and Blue Jays

Pitching Matchups

6/8: Martín Pérez vs. Framber Valdez, 7:10 PM ET

I was thinking about Pérez the other day and it got me thinking about modern pitching and how not everyone needs to fit into a box to be successful. This is something we all know deep down, but my preconceived notion of Pérez is that he sucks so I end up looking for ways to ding him. But he keeps pitching well so I gotta stop looking at why he’s not going to succeed and start looking for why he’s succeeding. He’s been striking out more guys this year and keeping the ball in the yard en route to some of the best numbers of his career, and arguably the best numbers of the staff.

Framber is a power sinker guy who chewed the Sox up his last time out. He pairs his power sinker with a plus curve. When both are working, he’s lethal. His spin rates will be fun to monitor as there was fuss about foreign substances on his glove.

6/9: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Jake Odorizzi, 7:10 PM ET

Eovaldi’s been on a roll his last five starts with a 2.60 ERA. He’s throwing as many strikes as anyone in baseball and it’s working for him. Eventually the home runs are going to catch up to him, but he’s managed to limit them thus far and as long as he continues to do so, he’ll be a good pitcher.

The last time Odorizzi pitched, he got bombed out the yard by Boston. His stuff looked fine in the first inning, but his fastball was as straight as an arrow, wasn’t missing any bats, and wasn’t hitting the edges of the zone. Boston will look for similar results this time around.

6/10: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Zack Greinke, 7:10 PM ET (MLB Network for out-of-market)

E-Rod is a fascinating pitcher for much different reasons. He’s remarkably inconsistent and his pitch mix is wacky. I haven’t done enough research into this, but I’ve wondered if he should narrow his pitch mix down and trash the sinker in favor of more fastballs and especially changeups. He’s had a rough go of things for the past month including a rough start against the Astros. This go-around won’t be any easier.

Zack Greinke’s Baseball Savant page paints a picture of how good a grasp of command he has on his secondaries. For instance, his changeup:

That’s absolutely perfect location for him, arm-side low on the edge. Or his curveball!

Perfect location! Greinke is one of the softest throwing starting pitchers in baseball, and he’s not doing it as a sinker-baller like Kyle Hendricks and Dallas Keuchel. I love this style of pitching and I can’t wait to watch him.

Old Friends

Matt will tell you that Ryan Pressly is an old friend, but if he didn’t play for the big club is he really an old friend or is he more like a distant family cousin you’ve never met? Ryan Pressly is no friend of mine.

Notable Position Players

Jose Altuve is still one of the best hitters in baseball and is somehow only 31. After a down season last year, he’s back to hitting above .300 with his customary power. If he can pick it back up, maybe he can eventually build a Hall of Fame case.

Carlos Correa is somehow only 26 and is back to being one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball after a down season last year. It’s not spoken enough how good this guy is. A 128 career wRC+ for a shortstop is absurd! He’s already approaching 30 career rWAR! That’s more than Xander!

Alex Bregman isn’t coming close to replicating his 2019 MVP-caliber season, but xeroxing two-thirds of his career line minus about 75 points of slugging. He remains one of the best players in baseball.

Yordan Alvarez hasn’t matched the prodigious pace that he went on in 2019 to begin his career, but he’s been really good this year! The troubling thing is that his walk rate has cratered. In 2019, he walked at a 14.1 percent clip while this year he’s walking only 3.6 percent of the time. His strikeout to walk ratio is the fourth worse in all of baseball.

Yuli Gurriel is another Astro on the rebound after a disappointing 2020. Contrary to Yordan, Gurriel has the second best strikeout to walk ratio in all of baseball.

Kyle Tucker is a many-time former top 100 prospect who’s lived up to the hype. His Baseball Savant page is chock full of red, which means he’s doing something right!

Chas McCormick sounds like a create-a-player in The Show. A $1,000 senior sign in the 2017 draft, McCormick made his way onto the Astros’ Wildcard playoff roster and is filling in for Michael Brantley while he’s hurt.

Myles Straw (not to be confused with former Red Sox prospect Miles Head) is the Astros designated speedster. He leads the team in stolen base attempts but is a Punch and Judy hitter with only five home runs in his pro career.

Martín Maldonado has been traded four times, and twice to the Astros! He’s 34 this year and striking out 30 percent of the time with a .529 OPS.

Bullpen Snapshot

Ryan Pressly is a spin-rate God. It’ll be interesting to see if his numbers are affected by MLB’s clamping down on the use of sticky stuff.

“It’s not Ryan it’s Ryne” Stanek isn’t opening games anymore, but he is still throwing gas with questionable command.

Brooks Raley is the top lefty in the bullpen. He throws four pitches with some regularity, His peripherals look fine, the savant exit velocity readings are excellent, so it’s about time for his ERA to start ticking down.

Injuries

Michael Brantely has been fighting a hamstring injury and should make his return this series.

Jason Castro was put on the 10-day IL with left Achilles soreness retroactive to 5/25. There is no timetable for his return.

Lance McCullers has been dealing with shoulder soreness and will miss this series, but is scheduled to return to the rotation soon.

Justin Verlander is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Bryan Abreu hurt his calf shagging fly balls. He’s on crutches and Dusty Baker says he’ll be out for “a while”.

Pedro Báez is dealing with shoulder soreness. There is no timetable set for his return as he’s not throwing off a mound.

It was just announced that Kent Emanuel will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Josh James’ return from hip surgery should come any day now as his mid-June timetable is creeping up.

Austin Pruitt is recovering from a hairline fracture in his pitching elbow. It is unsure when he will return.

Francis Martes is serving a full season suspension for flunking a second PED test.

Weather Forecast

It’s going to be hot this week with temperatures in the 90’s. There are chances of some scattered thunderstorms tonight and early in the evening on Wednesday, though it’s unclear how much of a threat they’ll pose to the games.