AL heavyweight fight: Astros vs. Red Sox

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There’s a matchup of American League heavyweights set for this weekend from Fenway Park, where the surging Boston Red Sox will host the fellow perennially-contending Houston Astros in a rematch of last year’s ALCS.

Of course, it was the Sox who prevailed in that series, needing only five games to do so, en route to the club’s ninth World Series championship in franchise history. This will be the first encounter since between the two AL powers. And it could be an explosive one based on how scorching hot both teams are.

Entering Tuesday’s action, the first-place Astros were on a six-game winning streak and 9-1 in their last 10. Offense has been the driving force, as Houston plated 8.2 runs per game during that stretch, with the over going 8-2.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, carried a five-game streak of their own into Tuesday while also winning 11 of 13 to fully propel out of their early-season rut. Like with the Astros, it’s been the offense leading the way. During the aforementioned 11-2 stretch, Boston scored 7.7 runs per game and produced a 9-4 record toward the over.

That begs the question: Should you be vying for overs when these two behemoths go at it? Let’s look at the pitching matchups.

Gerrit Cole vs. Rick Porcello (Friday): These days, when you see Porcello’s name listed as one of the probable pitchers, it’s understandable if you automatically think of a high-scoring affair. As a matter of fact, the over has gone 7-1 in the former AL Cy Young Award winner’s last eight starts. Given his ugly 5.15 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, Porcello figures to have a tough time in the series opener.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s an annual viable Cy Young contender in Cole. The seven-year veteran is enjoying another nice campaign in his second year with Houston. During his first season as an Astro, Cole was solid against Boston, but when he saw them in the playoffs, the Sox got to the right-hander for five runs in six innings. Even a quality start here might not be enough to keep this score on the low side. OVER

Corbin Martin vs. Hector Velasquez (Saturday): In his major league debut last Sunday, Martin was nothing short of dazzling. Although he didn’t make it out of the sixth inning, the 23-year-old still posted 5.1 impressive frames in limiting a potent Texas Rangers lineup to just two runs while scattering only four baserunners. He also struck out nine. A hot Red Sox lineup that is starting to perform like last year will be a stiffer test for the rookie, however.

Another inexperienced starter, Velasquez, is also slated to take the hill (though that could change if David Price is ready to return from injury) on Saturday for Boston, adding to the possibility of a high-scoring contest between two dangerous batting orders. Velasquez is coming off a nice outing that saw him record a season-high five innings and yield only two runs to the Seattle Mariners for his first win in 2019. He may be no match for this Astros lineup, though, that ranks second in baseball in team batting average (.287) and first in OPS (.892). OVER

Brad Peacock vs. Chris Sale (Sunday): It took a little while but it appears Sale is out of the shocking slump that plagued him through the season’s first few weeks. Prior to his assignment on Tuesday, Sale had recorded four straight starts of allowing two earned runs or fewer. Within that span, he racked up a whopping 42 strikeouts — compared to only six walks — in 26 innings. Yeah, he’s back.

Peacock isn’t really close to Sale’s elite level but, just like he did a couple of years ago when last a member of Houston’s rotation, the former 41st-round draft pick has continued to quietly provide steady work as a starter. He’s been really good most of the time, too, holding his opponent to one run or fewer in four of his seven starts. He may be able to keep up with the sizzling Sale. UNDER

Last Week: 2-1

Season: 12-8

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