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Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
2:00 PM EST. Eduardo Nunez collapsed on his way to first base in Game 1, apparently re-aggravating the right knee injury that bothered him throughout September and necessitated the brace that was visible through his uniform. Nunez has been replaced on the ALDS roster by outfielder Chris Young. That would appear to put Hanley Ramirez in the lineup as Boston’s starting designated hitter again. Hanley Ramirez hasn’t hit well for the last couple of months, so Nunez's injury is especially bad news for Boston. The fact that they are trailing 1-0 in the series after starting their ace in Game 1 isn’t exactly good news, either. Houston reminded everyone that they had the best offense in baseball this season by a mile. Altuve homered three times, reminding everyone that he’s a serious MVP candidate. The Astros looked like a beast of a team, reminding everyone of the Sports Illustrated cover from 2014 that predicted a Houston championship in 2017. Aside from all that, Houston has the look of a team that knows they are going to win while the Red Sox have the look of a team that knows it’s going to lose.
With a fastball that averages less than 89 mph, the 29-year-old Dallas Keuchel certainly isn't your prototypical front-of-the-rotation starter but his combination of swing-and-miss off-speed pitches, and extreme groundball inducing stuff, makes him one of the best in the game. Keuchel keeps the ball on the ground at an elite level primarily by throwing a heavy sinker 47% of the time. The sinker induces grounders at a 75% clip, but he also sports a 50%+ groundball rate on all of his other pitches (four-seam, slider, cutter, change-up). When a team is playing as good as the Astros are, the pitcher feels it too.
Meanwhile, Drew Pomeranz is mired in mediocrity. Pomeranz has put up a nice 3.32 ERA but a pedestrian 4.42 xERA and 1.35 WHIP through 32 starts tells a different story. Pomeranz is getting ahead in the count but not throwing enough strikes, which all but cements another subpar control year. Pomeranz features two primary pitches: a four-seam fastball that generates a bunch of whiffs (52% of pitches; 12% swing and miss) with a complementary curveball (36%; 10%). Pomeranz has mediocre ratios with a healthy dose of strikeouts. There isn't much room for further growth, as Pomeranz's lack of control continues to hold him back and he’ll now face a team that is seeing beach balls at the plate. Lastly, Drew Pomeranz is rattled very easily out there. An error will get him, a bloop hit will send him reeling or anything luck driven and he’ll lose his mind. The Red Sox are up against to begin with and Pomeranz isn’t the guy to get them back into this series. Houston likely whacks them again.
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HOUSTON -1½ +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)