Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros – Astros in 4
The Astros have a lot to play for here. Remember, this is a city that was just devastated by Hurricane Harvey, so don’t count out the home field advantage.
The Astros have more than that though. They have two top-end pitchers in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
They have arguably the AL MVP in Jose Altuve. They have guys who can hit for power up and down the lineup, but also guys who have a lot of speed.
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The Red Sox, of course, have Chris Sale, and that is a big plus, but he will be going up against the red-hot Verlander. But, I think Keuchel vs. Drew Pomeranz is a mismatch in favor of Houston. And, Game 3 will feature Doug Fister vs. an unnamed starter. That game could be high-scoring, which favors Houston.
It is important to remember, most of the Red Sox had down years at the plate, and the team didn’t score runs at a clip one would expect.
I can’t see the Red Sox coming out of this series, and think Houston can win it in four.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians – Indians in 5
The Cleveland Indians may be the best team in the 2017 MLB playoffs, but they are in for a dogfight with the mighty Yankees.
Terry Francona has made a few curious decisions with his rotation, but it still holds a tremendous advantage over New York’s.
Corey Kluber will take the mound in Game 2, and he would have an advantage over anyone in baseball at this point. Facing C.C. Sabathia gives Kluber an edge, and with Carlos Carrasco following, the Indians could have New York on the brink of elimination.
However, as they showed against Minnesota, the Yankees’ offense makes up for a lot of sins. Aaron Judge is back to hitting as he did in the first half. Guys like Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and others have had strong seasons in pinstripes and will steal a game for Cleveland.
In the end, this series is likely to be close, but in the postseason, I think pitching has the edge. While the bullpens are pretty close with David Robertson poised to fill the Andrew Miller role for the Yankees, the Indians’ rotation has an advantage over anyone.
The problem is that this challenging series won’t allow the Indians to set up their rotation to face the Astros, a team that in some ways is similar to them.