Our MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, looks at the performances of each team over the last month to help him analyze the series price being offered in this matchup and to make his MLB pick.
The Boston Red Sox visit the Houston Astros in the American League Divisional Series with the Astros favored on the MLB odds board at -165 on the series price at 5Dimes. The series starts on Thursday in Houston with Chris Sale going for Boston and Justin Verlander starting for the Houston Astros.
I’d like to look at both teams’ performances over the last month in pitching, offense, and defense to see where they rank. Looking at the entire year is great and all, but I’d like to know how these teams are faring right now. Beginning with starting pitching, the Astros are ranked 2nd in the MLB in overall WAR, while the Red Sox are down at 21st over the last 30 days. This is a big discrepancy over their full-season numbers where they are ranked 10th and 11th – nearly identical. Houston’s addition of Justin Verlander to the rotation late in the season has pushed them over the top in this regard, and they also recorded a 18-5 record in the last month versus a 10-10 record for the Red Sox. Advantage Houston.
The bullpens for these teams have statistics that diverge over the last month of the season. Where the Red Sox has a 4th place ranking that dropped to 5th, the Astros have an 8th place full season ranking dropping to 23rd over the last 30 days. The problem appears to be dingers, and Houston has had the worst HR/FB% in the MLB over the last 30 days at 20%. Perhaps the Texas heat, or playing extra road games because of Hurricane Harvey are to blame. Advantage Red Sox.
The Astros hold the #1 ranking in overall offensive WAR over the entire season, but rank just 7th in the MLB over the last month. They hold a team .270 average over that time frame and a +112 wRC+. The Red Sox offense has been cold over the last 30 days and rank 25th in the league. They’ve barely been above replacement value and the team has a combined .244 batting average over the last month and a .309 OBP. Huge advantage to the Astros in this regard.
One of the more interesting comparisons between these teams is defensive WAR, as over the entire season the Red Sox are ranked #1 and the Astros sit at 29th. These statistics are the hardest to draw value from in a single game situation though, and can’t be dialed into the last 30-day period. Still, I’ll give the advantage to the Red Sox here.
With the Astros having an edge in starting pitching and overall offense in this series, I believe that the chalk given to them is warranted. One interesting thing to note about the statistics is that Houston’s bullpen ranks lower in overall WAR because they pitched less innings than the Red Sox. I see that as a positive overall. I’d take the Astros with the home field advantage to win this series and advance to the American League Championship series.Free ALDS Pick: Astros AdvanceBest Line Offered: at 5Dimes