Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#967 Boston Red Sox -135 vs.
#968 Houston Astros 8.5
Friday, May 24, 2019 at 8:10pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#967 Boston
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The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox will head on the road to Minute Maid Park on Friday night for the opening game of their heavyweight American League series clash versus the Houston Astros.

These two teams met in Fenway last weekend with Houston taking two of three on the road against the Red Sox. Houston owns the second-best record in the American League at 33-18 and they have opened up a healthy seven-game lead in the AL West standings. The Astros are an AL-best 18-6 at home, but they will have their work cut out for them against a surging Red Sox ball club. Boston has won 16 of their last 22 games to erase an 11-17 start to the season an position themselves just 5.5-games back in the AL East.  Will the Red Sox be able to get their revenge on the road in Houston on Friday?

Sale, Red Sox turning season around quickly

After winning three of their four-games in a series versus the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston’s charter flight to Houston was diverted on Thursday night because of a mechanical issue. The team’s Delta Boeing 757 took off for Houston, but was forced to land in Detroit, where the team was expected to board a new plane bound for their next series. The setback undoubtedly puts them at a disadvantage in Game 1.

The Red Sox will turn to left-handed ace Chris Sale as they continue their climb into the postseason conversation in the American League. Like the Red Sox, Sale has done everything in his power to put his slow start of the season behind him. Sale has surrendered three earned runs or less in six consecutive starts and he’s tossed quality outings in four of his last five outings. Despite his efforts, Sale still sports an unsightly 1-5 overall record and a 4.31 ERA through his first 10 starts, however, the chatter that he’s suddenly lost it is certainly unwarranted. Sale still sports an elite strikeout rate of 13.26 batters per nine innings of work, but he’s been victimized by the long ball more than ever this year — nearly doubling his home run per fly ball rate from 9.3 percent to 17.3 percent in 2019.

Sale is fresh off of a gutsy outing versus the Astros in his last start. He struck out 10 and walked five batters, giving up three runs in 5 ⅓ frames to help Boston steal the final game of their series at Fenway Park. He went 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in his previous three starts versus the Astros dating back to the 2016 season.

According to Baseball Savant, the current Astros’ roster is batting .217 in 181 plate appearances versus the Red Sox’ ace. StatCast projects Houston hitters for an expected batting average of only .221 and an expected slugging percentage of .384 off of Sale heading into Friday’s matchup.

Astros offense hitting at historic pace

Houston is trying to rebound following a disappointing series split with the Chicago White Sox after opening the four-game series with back-to-back wins. The Astros have established themselves as one of the heavyweight contenders to dethrone the Red Sox in the American League and they are doing it by hitting at a historic rate. Despite losing their last two games, Houston’s run differential is by far the best in baseball and they also rank first in BaseRuns by a wide margin. They are also rivaling the 1930s Yankees in several offensive categories, which has put them in the conversation among some of the all-time elite offensive teams.

The Astros are expected to counter with veteran left-hander Wade Miley for the series opener against the Red Sox on Friday. The 32-year-old is 4-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 10 starts this season and he’s surrendered three earned runs or less in nine of his 10 outings this year. Miley has been able to eat up valuable innings as a member of the Astros rotation and he’s averaging nearly 5 ⅔ frames per start so far this year.

In order to snap their two-game losing streak, Houston will need Miley to be better than he’s been against the Red Sox. He comes in with a 2-2 record and a 7.13 ERA in his previous four outings against Boston dating back to 2016. According to Baseball Savant, the current Red Sox roster is batting a healthy .337 in 112 plate appearances versus the Astros’ lefty. StatCast projects Red Sox batters for an expected batting average of .345 and an expected slugging percentage of .609 heading into Monday’s matchup.

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Boston will be looking to get some revenge here after losing two of three at home in Fenway Park against the Astros last week. Boston has won five of the last seven meetings in this series, including each of their last five games at Minute Maid Park. Sale has started to show signs of life after a rough start to the year, while all signs point to some regression for Miley. He’s benefited from a .255 BABIP and his current xFIP (4.45) is nearly a full run higher than his ERA. Take the Red Sox to come out on top on the road in this matchup between two contenders in the American League.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox

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These two teams have stayed under the projected total in each of their last four meetings and runs are going to be hard to come by with Sale on the mound in this spot. Houston has stayed under the projected total in six of their last seven games and the under is 9-2-1 in their last 12 games versus a team with a winning record. Meanwhile, four of Sale’s last five starts have stayed under the projected total. Look for those trends to continue and take the under in this matchup at Minute Maid Park on Monday.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.