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Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
1:05 PM EST. On paper, it looks/sounds pretty good for Boston. Fresh off a series-extending Game 3 victory, the Red Sox turn to reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello to even the series at 2-2. Of course, Porcello has mostly been a mess this season, going from a league-leading 22 wins last year to a league-leading 17 losses this year, along with a league-high 236 hits and 38 homers allowed in 203 innings for a 4.65 ERA and 5.42 xERA. Porcello is the Red Sox’s fourth starter because they want to avoid relying on him as much as possible, and yet here he is with the entire season on the line. Porcello’s 39%/40% groundball/fly-ball split is also a problem that isn’t likely to play well at this park against the Astronauts.
\Charlie Morton was hardly Houston’s ace this season, but he did post a solid 3.65 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 147 innings, including a 2.54 ERA and 33/6 K/BB ratio in September. The last of those September starts came against Boston, as Morton tossed 5.1 innings of two-run ball at Fenway Park, whereas Porcello got rocked for seven runs in his lone 2017 start vs. Houston. Charlie Morton is also an extreme groundball pitcher (57%), which is something we’d much rather have working for us than Porcello’s fly-ball tilt. This game may simply come down to whether the 2016 or 2017 version of Porcello takes the mound, because the 2017 version stands little chance of not being lit up by the Astros’ lineup.
David Price saved the Red Sox’s bullpen (and possibly their whole season) in Game 3, working four shutout innings of relief after starter Doug Fister failed to make it out of the second inning. Craig Kimbrel has yet to appear in this series, so he’s fresh bordering on too fresh, and setup men Addison Reed (seven pitches) and Carson Smith (13) had light workloads Sunday. Lance McCullers wasn’t nearly as effective as Price in Game 3, but he did soak up three innings in relief following starter Brad Peacock’s early exit. No other Astros reliever threw more than 14 pitches in the blowout loss, so everyone else should be available. In particular, Chris Devenski figures to get a chance to bounce back from an ugly outing in short order.
A rainout might be the ideal scenario for the Red Sox, because it would allow them to possibly skip Porcello, flip back to the top of their rotation, and maybe even work Price back into the mix as a starter or long reliever. Barring mother nature taking charge of things, they’ll need another big effort from the lineup in a game where the Astros’ bats seem likely to do damage. Astronauts finish em off here.
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Houston -1½ +129 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.58)