It was an easy go of it for the defending World Series Champions in the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series as they swept the Cleveland Indians. On the other side of the American League, the Boston Red Sox were the ones that bombed the Bronx Bombers and defeated the New York Yankees on Tuesday night in their series. That puts us on a collision course for a rematch of a series we saw in the ALDS last year between the Sox and the Astros.

Game one will get underway, in primetime (you're welcome Alex Bregman), on Saturday night at 7:09 pm. The matchup we should see is Justin Verlander vs. Chris Sale which is a delicious pitching matchup that I can not wait to witness.

Both pitchers had phenomenal seasons. Justin Verlander had a 16-9 record, a 2.52 ERA, threw 214 innings, struck out 290 batters, and walked only 37 hitters. In the other corner, Chris Sale was 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, threw 158 innings (missed some time due to injury), still struck out 237 batters, and walked only 34.

As far as how both fare in the postseason, Verlander is a career 12-6 pitcher in 22 starts while posting a 3.08 ERA, has thrown 140 innings, has 157 strikeouts, and 40 walks. Sale hasn't had a lot of postseason experience but did not have a good time of it when he faced this Astros team last year in the ALDS. He was 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA over 10 innings pitched and gave up four home runs. If the Red Sox want to get to the World Series Chris Sale NEEDS to be better this time around for Boston.

Astros X-Factor:

In order for the Houston Astros to be successful in this series, they're going to need to continue to get consistent bullpen performances out of their back end pieces. Ideally, they'll be able to get length out of the starters which will put less stress on the pen but this Red Sox offense is really good.

Red Sox X-Factor:

For Boston to continue their run to a World Series they're going to need to swing the sticks well against this deep starting rotation of the Houston Astros and try to dig into their bullpen. The big players will have to play big, I'm looking at you Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi. It would help to get some contributions from some of the secondary players as well. It's a tall task I know, but if they're able to get to the starters and get them out of the game, the Sox will have a much better chance of being successful.

 

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