The Boston Red Sox just finished off a tough New York Yankees team in the division round, knowing that a much more difficult challenge awaits them in the Houston Astros.
Against the Yankees, the Red Sox could be confident in a pitching advantage. Even with David Price‘s disastrous performance, the Yankees simply did not have the talent to keep up with Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.
When the Red Sox starters went deep against the Yankees, and the bullpen avoided difficult situations, they flourished, and effectively shut down the best power in the MLB.
Against the Astros, it will be a completely different story. Even if they continue to get the very best out of those three, and do not put Price in a position to hurt the team again, the Astros still have the potential to be better.
The Astros have the deepest and most consistent rotation in the playoffs, and the Red Sox know losing just one Sale game could be enough to ruin their season.
The Red Sox need to be confident in their pitching and it is even more important that they avoid the bullpen in this series. That being said, the Red Sox should understand that pitching will not be the difference for them in this series.
The Red Sox need to rely on their pitching, but now is the time for the offense to prove that no rotation can slow down their offense. Even if the Astros get a clear pitching advantage, the Red Sox offense needs to neutralize all of that, and make things as easy a possible on their rotation.
We saw the kind of damage the Red Sox can do against the Yankees, but they will need even more of it against this Astros team that has tremendous depth and balance on offense too.
The Astros put a very different kind of pressure on a team than the Yankees. Fearing pure power is one thing, and the Red Sox had their top tier pitchers shut that down. With the Astros, they are facing pressure pressure in a lot more different ways.
The fact that they have the most dominant and deep starting rotation automatically puts pressure on any opposing pitcher. The Red Sox starters cannot expect the same kind of run support they saw against the Yankees, and then they have to start thinking about what they will be doing with their bats.
These teams are set up in a way that could be a pitchers duel or a slug fest. The Red Sox know that they will be able to find their advantages, with a lineup that knows they are capable of getting to any pitcher.
What we know for sure is that the Red Sox will need more balance against the Astros, while making sure they get stellar performances from their top tier talent.
Both of these teams will be rested up and have a fresh rotation. The Red Sox still do not have the kind of trust in their rotation that the Astros have established, but there is a lot of optimism after stellar performances from the end of their rotation against the Yankees.
It should be a long and exciting series, and the team that sees their starting pitchers go deeper into games will get a significant advantage. The Red Sox will need to trust their starters even when they are taking some hits. With the offense they have behind them, the pitchers on the Red Sox will have an extra luxury of comfort, but that only happens if the offense is constantly putting more pressure on the best starting rotation in baseball.