It's playoff time

Previewing the Astros-Red Sox American League Divisional Series

Will the Astros make the plays they need to in order to beat the Red Sox. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Tomorrow afternoon the Astros start their quest for the 11 playoff wins they need to get the first World Series in franchise history. First up, the Boston Red Sox whom the Astros won 4 out of 7 games against in the regular season. Big disclaimer on that, though, they never faced Chris Sale. On the flip side, the Red Sox never went up against Keuchel this season either. So, how the series will ultimately go is hard to predict, but I’m going to give it a shot:

Game 1 – 3:08 PM Thursday, October 5th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: Sale v. Verlander

Although the Astros didn’t face Sale this year, they did play him a couple of times last year. Altuve went 3 for 7 against him including a homer, while Springer and Correa combined to go 3 for 15 with five strikeouts. However, I’d argue that Altuve is the same great hitter, and Correa and Springer are improved, meaning there’s a good chance they do even better than those numbers suggest. Verlander and Sale have gone head to head twice this year when Verlander was with the Tigers. In the first meeting on April 10th the Tigers won 2-1 as Verlander edged out Sale by giving up just one run in seven innings while Sale gave up two in seven and two-thirds. In the second head-to-head matchup, Verlander did much worse, giving up three runs in just five innings while Sale gave up three in seven innings of work as the Red Sox went on to win that one 11-3. I think Verlander pitches a great game and benefits from the strong Astros offense behind him that do enough against Sale to get the series started with a win at home. Prediction: Astros win 4-2.

Game 2 – 1:05 PM Friday, October 6th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: Pomeranz v. Keuchel

Pomeranz has done really well against the Astros this year in two starts, going at least six innings in both starts and giving up just one run in each game allowing the Red Sox to win both, one in Houston and one in Boston. However, Keuchel at home is almost always a lock to be lights out, and I expect nothing less in a playoff game. I think with the crowd behind them, the offense pulls this one out behind a strong showing from Keuchel. Prediction: Astros win 5-1.

Game 3 – 1:30 PM Sunday, October 8th @ Boston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

We don’t know who the pitchers will be just yet, but I expect it’ll be Peacock going for the Astros on Sunday. I think the Red Sox offense will be fired up to be at home, enough to allow them to edge out their one win against the Astros on Sunday. That being said, it would not surprise me by any means if the Astros get the three-game sweep. Prediction: Red Sox win 5-4

Game 4 (If Necessary)- Time TBD Monday, October 9th @ Boston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

Game 4 is another game that’s hard to give exact numbers and reasoning on since so many things could change depending on decisions the Red Sox could make if they are down 2-1 or vice versa for the Astros. The Red Sox could be desperate enough to put Sale back out on extremely short rest or start Porcello or Rodriguez. I think the Astros will be up 2-1 and trust Morton to get the job done and he does just that. Prediction: Astros win 7-3

Game 5 (If Necessary) – Time TBD Wednesday, October 11th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

I don’t see this series going 5 games. If it does, however, there are a few things to consider. The ghosts of 2015 could sneak up on the Astros where they blew a 2-1 lead and lost the series to the Royals, allowing the Red Sox to sneak one over. I think this team is too mature for that, though, and with home field advantage, I don’t see them falling to the same fate in 2017. Prediction: Game Not Necessary, But If I’m Wrong, Astros win 6-2

Ultimately, I think this Astros offense will be too much for the Red Sox to handle, especially if they play like they did the last week of the season. I expect Verlander and Keuchel to be dominant, and for the Astros to get a great effort out of Peacock and Morton, whom I expect to be the third and fourth starters. That means you potentially have Mchugh and McCullers in the bullpen, which if brought in to pitch only pitch one or two innings could do some real damage. Kimbrel may be a monster, but Giles has been pretty dominant as well, and guys like Musgrove and Devenski have been great too. All of this isn’t to say the Red Sox aren’t dangerous or talented, I just think the Astros get it done with home-field advantage.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome