Fox has the national TV telecast of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Red Sox and Astros, although I worry this might get lost in the grand scheme of things on a terrific Saturday of college football. For example, No. 11 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia will be going on at the same time (3:30 ET kickoff).
The ALCS takes a break after Saturday’s game and then shifts to Boston for the middle three (if necessary) starting Monday. For what it’s worth, the Astros won Game 2 of their ALDS at home against the White Sox 9-4. The Red Sox won Game 2 of their ALDS at top-seeded Tampa Bay, 14-6. That really changed that series because Boston was down 5-2 after one inning.
So let’s get into the MLB odds for this one.
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 04:20 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park
Red Sox Probable Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi
Pretty surprised that Red Sox manager Alex Cora – who of course was the bench coach of the cheating 2017 World Series champion Astros; that led to Cora being suspended for the 2020 MLB season – decided to go with Chris Sale in Game 1 on Friday instead of Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi was Boston’s best pitcher in the regular season, going 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a career-high 195 strikeouts in 32 starts. Eovaldi led all qualified American League pitchers in walks per nine innings (1.73). He was second in homers allowed per nine-inning (0.74) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.57). He also led AL pitchers in FanGraphs’ WAR at 5.6.
It was Eovaldi whom the Red Sox turned to in the winner-take-all wild-card game at Fenway Park with Boston an underdog on the MLB odds against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. Eovaldi’s contract is worth about $280 million less than Cole’s, but Eovaldi was much better that night in allowing one run and four hits over 5.1 innings with zero walks and eight strikeouts in earning the victory.
In Game 3 of the ALDS vs. Tampa Bay, Eovaldi also pitched at Fenway and allowed two runs and three hits over five with eight strikeouts and a walk in a no-decision. He is from the Houston area (Alvin) and faced the Astros once this season, allowing five runs and 11 hits over 5.2 innings of a home loss on June 9.
Eovaldi admits it’s “special” to pitch near his hometown but: “Yeah, they have a tendency of rubbing guys the wrong way,” he said of the Astros. “I don’t necessarily hate any team, but they’re not high up on my list.”
Jose Altuve has had some regular-season career success off Eovaldi, going 6-for-19 with three solo homers. Alex Bregman is 3-for-6 with a homer and two doubles. Boston is 5-1 on the MLB odds in its past six Saturday games.
Astros Probable Pitcher: Luis Garcia
Houston is the betting favorite at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks to win this series, but you have to downgrade the Astros a bit because ace Lance McCullers will not pitch in the ALCS and isn’t even on the roster. He was lifted in Game 4 of the ALDS vs. the White Sox on Tuesday with forearm discomfort. Thankfully, no structural damage and perhaps McCullers Jr. can pitch in the World Series should the Astros get there.
It’s the fifth straight trip to the League Championship Series for the Astros and the only other teams to do that in the divisional era (since 1969) are the Braves (1991-99) and the A’s (1971-75). In 2017, Houston beat the Yankees and won the World Series.
The Astros lost the 2018 ALCS to Boston, which won the World Series. Houston beat the Yankee in 2019 but lost to Washington the Fall Classic, and last year the Astros lost to the Rays.
It will be 24-year-old rookie right-hander Luis Garcia on the mound – he is considered a rookie even though he pitched five games in 2020. Garcia was 11-9 with a 3.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 167 strikeouts in 155.1 regular-season innings. He led AL rookie pitchers in WAR (3.0), wins (11), innings (155.1) and strikeouts (167) – those 167 Ks were the second-highest strikeout total by a rookie in club history.
Garcia’s best pitch is a cutter as opponents hit just .175 off it (28-for-160) with 65 strikeouts. He faced Boston on June 1 at Minute Maid Park and got the win, allowing one run and five hits over seven.
Garcia did pitch once in the 2020 postseason, throwing two scoreless innings of relief in a no-decision vs. Tampa. His first postseason start didn’t go nearly as well as in Game 3 of the ALDS last Sunday in Chicago, he was tagged for five runs and five hits in 2.2 innings. That was the one game Houston lost.
No Red Sox batter has more than three career at-bats off him. Alex Verdugo is 2-for-3. Hunter Renfroe 1-for-3 with a double. All-Stars Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and JD Martinez are a combined 0-for-9 off him with five strikeouts. The Astros are 1-4 in their past five Saturday games. Still, should be a close one so let's roll with Boston's run line for our MLB pick.
*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.