Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS Game 1 Betting Preview and Pick

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Starting pitcher Framber Valdez #59 of the Houston Astros. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

Two familiar teams look to make another trip to the World Series when the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros open the ALCS on Friday night.

Boston upset its way past the Rays, while the Astros knocked off the White Sox to meet in a matchup of two teams tainted by the sign-stealing scandal of two years ago. Let’s see the MLB odds.

Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

Friday, October 15, 2021, 9:07 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park

Two familiar teams look to make another trip to the World Series when the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros open the ALCS on Friday night. This will be the fourth time in the last five World Series that either the Red Sox or Astros have represented the American League, with each franchise winning one world championship over that time.

Boston faced the prospect of a three-way play-in against the Blue Jays and Mariners to even reach the postseason before coming from behind to win on the last day of the season. The Sox then knocked off the Yankees in a one-game Wild Card, before they upset their way past the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays in the Divisional Series.

The Astros cruised to the American League West title, then cruised past the Central Division champion White Sox in the Divisional Series to reach an ALCS that matches two teams tainted by the sign-stealing scandal of the late 2010s. The Astros changed managers and general managers in the wake of a sign-stealing, trash can banging scheme getting revealed in 2019.

They’re now led by veteran skipper Dusty Baker, who is looking for his first title as a manager. Red Sox manager Alex Cora is back after serving a one-year suspension for Boston’s own sign-stealing scandal. Cora was also a coach on the Astros staff when Houston developed its trash can plan.

Getting Healthy

The Red Sox are as healthy as they’ve been since they began their postseason run. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez injured his ankle over the season’s final weekend and missed both the Wild Card game and the first game of the Divisional Series.

He’s played in the three ALDS games since then and recorded a hit in all of them, going 7-for-15 with a home run and four RBIs. “It’s doing a lot better. The swelling has gone down a lot,” Martinez said. “I mean, night and day from what it was. It obviously still hurts.

You know, certain things, certain movements still bother it, but it’s a lot better than it was yesterday and the day before and the day before. So since the first day I started playing, it’s a lot better, and that’s all you can ask for.” In addition to Martinez, the Red Sox offense has been led by Rafael Devers and Kike Hernandez. Devers hit in all four ALDS games and has two homers and six RBIs in the last three games.

Hernandez had seven straight hits during games two and three. He had a 1.329 OPS in the series with two home runs. Chris Sale will get the game one start, which was a bit of a surprise. Nathan Eovaldi, the game two starter, would have been on full rest, and Sale, the team’s ace, was batted around in his last start, giving up five runs in just one inning of work—a career-worst for him.

Pitching Takes a Blow

The Astros are struggling with a new injury to a key contributor. Reportedly, their top starting pitcher, Lance McCullers Jr., is not available for the series. He left his start in the ALDS with discomfort in his forearm and had an MRI afterward. The team hasn’t made any official statement on his status.

Framber Valdez will get the game one start—McCullers wouldn’t have been on schedule to start until game three anyway. Valdez is 3-1, 2.86 in five career playoff starts. He gave up four runs in 4.1 innings against the White Sox in his last start.

The Astros are also raking at the plate, which should help make up for the loss of a top starting pitcher. They scored 31 runs in four games against the White Sox, who had one of the top pitching staffs in the American League.

The Pick

With the American League East’s four-team race for three of the spots in the postseason occupying most of the attention over the last few months, the Astros have been flying along, comfortably off the radar.

For a team that has been the center of fans’ outrage for two years, that’s a welcome place to be. For your MLB picks, look for the Astros to get off to a strong start against Sale, who is still bouncing back from major arm surgery.

MLB Pick: Astros (-135) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Astros (-135)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.