The 2021 ALCS is officially set and ready to begin on Friday. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox have become rather familiar with each other in the playoffs. The last time these two met was in the 2018 ALCS which ended with the Red Sox advancing. The Red Sox and Astros also met in the 2017 ALDS which ended in the Astros advancing. The 2021 ALCS will be the third time these teams have met in the playoffs but yet it almost feels like they have a deep playoff rivalry. So, let’s preview the 2021 ALCS and all that is sure to come with it.
Astros Keys To Victory
1.) Pitching Needs To Be Dominant
The Astros rotation and bullpen pitched decently well in every game except game three. That was the only game the Astros lost in the ALDS by a score of 12-6. Other than that, the bullpen had command of most of the late-game situations. Heading into the ALCS, the bullpen and rotation will need to be even better. The Red Sox feature a heavy-hitting lineup that can score a lot of runs quickly. For any pitching staff that is their worst nightmare for an ALCS. However, Houston has shown before that they can shut down elite lineups and it will need to happen again to beat Boston.
2.) Continue To Score Runs
The Astros had no problem scoring runs in the ALDS. In fact, they scored a total of 31 runs in the four games they played in the ALDS. Houston scored at least six runs in every game against a White Sox pitching staff that held the MLB’s 5th-best ERA and number one strikeout rate in the regular season. Boston allowed four or more runs in their ALDS series win. This opens the door for the Astros to know they can score plenty against the Boston pitching staff. If Houston can continue to score at least 5 runs, they will sit pretty good against the Red Sox.
3.) Win The First Two Games At Home
If I know anything about baseball, it is that two home games to open any series are huge. Houston 5-2 in the regular season against Boston outscoring them 42-25 across the two series. Based on that, I would say Houston knows what it takes to beat Boston. However, Boston has shown their late game heroics against Tampa so Houston cannot allow that to happen. Two big wins in Houston would help the Astros immensely.
Red Sox Keys To Victory
1.) Steal Two Games On The Road
Yes I know it is super cliche to say that the Red Sox should do the opposite of Houston and steal two road games. However, that is the reality of postseason baseball folks. I already mentioned how much Boston struggled in the regular season versus Houston. This is a whole new game though, fresh slate, 0-0 record and Boston needs to take advantage of that. Pitching has not been ideal but if they can keep pace with Houston and steal the first two road games, Boston looks real promising moving forward.
2.) Need To Outscore Houston
Again, an obvious thing that needs to happen because the team with more runs wins the game. The point here is that Houston can outscore anyone and if Boston wants to compete, they need to score 5 runs or more every game. Houston is fully prepared for a high scoring game every night but Boston will need to find a way to get runs across late yet again. The Kansas City Royals in the 2015 title run made use of late game heroics and Boston can do the same with their run scoring ability.
3.) Middle Lineup Hitters Have To Carry
The middle of the lineup for Boston was the most consistent during the ALDS. I see no reason to not rely on them yet again in the ALCS. With the heavy bats of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo, Boston has the right combo of hitters. The middle of the lineup typically features the best hitters on any team but Boston has a special group. If they can remain active at the plate, the second key to victory and this one, will combine and end in good results for the Red Sox.
ALCS Final Prediction: Astros Win 4-2
As good as Boston has been so far, Houston will be even better. I think the Astros will make baseball fans groan and cuss as they advance into yet another World Series. The Astros will prove to be too much for Bostons pitching staff and I can easily see half of the games in this series having a combined score of 10 or more runs. The final team standing I think will be the Astros, sorry Boston fans. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and feel better about picking the Astros.
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