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Astros / Red Sox

After another drubbing at the hands of the powerful Houston offense, we could be watching the curtains close on the Red Sox’s season. Nominally, their season rests in the right hand of Doug Fister, who once upon a time (read: a year ago) was employed by the Astros. If anyone knows how to get these hitters out … well, it was probably Chris Sale. This is Doug Fister we’re talking about here.

Houston’s in the catbird seat, and has looked dominant to this point, but we all know how Boston can muster up a nice little comeback narrative. If there ever was a chance for their seemingly lackadaisical offense to up their game, now would be it. Otherwise we’ll see this team again in April, and we’ll be one step closer to the Astros achieving their Sports Illustrated-predicted destiny.

Houston Astros (Brad Peacock) at Boston Red Sox (Doug Fister), 2:30 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 53% Astros, 47% Red Sox

Projected Starting Lineups

Astros vs. Fister (R)

Red Sox vs. Peacock (R)

George Springer (R), CF

Xander Bogaerts (R), SS

Josh Reddick (L), RF

Dustin Pedroia (R), 2B

Jose Altuve (R), 2B

Andrew Benintendi (L), LF

Carlos Correa (R), SS

Mookie Betts (R), RF

Marwin Gonzalez (S), LF

Mitch Moreland (L), 1B

Alex Bregman (R), 3B

Hanley Ramirez (R), DH

Carlos Beltran (S), DH

Rafael Devers (L), 3B

Yulieski Gurriel (R), 1B

Sandy Leon (S), C

Brian McCann (L), C

Jackie Bradley (L), CF

Injuries/Availability

Betts is obviously not 100 percent healthy after having trouble with a nagging left wrist injury during Game 2, and Pedroia hasn’t fully recovered from his knee issues either. And you already know about Eduardo Nunez bowing out of the ALDS after his injury in Game 1. So that’s not ideal. On the other hand, since it is do-or-die mode for the Sox, expect every pitcher not named Pomeranz to be on call in case of emergency.

Like much of the rest of this series, the Astros seem to have a startling advantage here as well. While it’s tough to imagine that Reddick is completely healthy, the team has three starting pitchers ready to go in Game 3, and a bullpen that’s fresh as a daisy. They’re fine.

Outlook

Simply put, the outlook is pretty dim for the Red Sox. Fortunately for them, they’re playing at home and against a starting pitcher far from the caliber of the two they’ve already faced in the series. Sunday’s forecast calls for dark clouds over Boston, which could be an omen as much as anything else. However, we shouldn’t forget that this Red Sox team possesses more than a modicum of talent, and a comeback isn’t completely out of reach. In the end, almost every advantage points toward the team from Texas—including a rare PECOTA pick of the away team—and a sweep could certainly be in the offing.

Indians / Yankees

After a long, long, long Game 2 in Cleveland, the series shifts to New York as the Yankees fight for their playoff lives. To be fair, this team isn’t far removed from an elimination game, so they’re probably familiar with the sinking feeling that’ll be settling into their stomachs Sunday morning. But while the Indians hold a comfortable two-game lead in the series, perhaps the cracks in their armor are showing, as their best hitter (Edwin Encarnacion) is injured and their best pitcher (Corey Kluber) looked human. (Plus, it’s only fair to say that a mangled call on a Lonnie Chisenhall “hit-by-pitch” swung the game for the Tribe.)

Nevertheless, the Evil Empire will either win or go home … uh, further home, I suppose? … tonight. And hey, after Luis Severino’s iffy outing in the Wild Card game, I’m not certain there’s a better starter they could pin their hopes on than Masahiro Tanaka.

Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) at New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:30 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 50% Indians, 50% Yankees

Projected Starting Lineups

Indians vs. Tanaka (R)

Yankees vs. Carrasco (R)

Francisco Lindor (S), SS

Brett Gardner (L), LF

Jason Kipnis (L), CF

Aaron Judge (R), RF

Jose Ramirez (S), 2B

Gary Sanchez (R), C

Michael Brantley (L), DH

Didi Gregorius (L), SS

Jay Bruce (L), RF

Starlin Castro (R), 2B

Carlos Santana (S), 1B

Greg Bird (L), 1B

Lonnie Chisenhall (L), LF

Aaron Hicks (S), CF

Roberto Perez (R), C

Jacoby Ellsbury (L), DH

Giovanny Urshela (R), 3B

Todd Frazier (R), 3B

Injuries/Availability

The big injury news coming out of Friday’s tilt was Encarnacion leaving the game with a pretty disgusting-looking ankle injury. Currently he’s considered day-to-day, which means that another banged-up hitter is likely to take his place at DH: Michael Brantley. Brantley still doesn’t look right after battling injuries all season, and his 0-for-5 performance in Game 2 didn’t exactly conjure up memories of that 2014 third-place MVP finish. On the other side, the Bronx Bombers look mostly healthy.

After all those pitchers used in Game 2, the Indians might be at a slight disadvantage from a bullpen perspective; only Danny Salazar made it out of that game without wear on his arm, and Game 4 starter Josh Tomlin ended up used as well. With the off day, there’s a decent chance everyone will be available, but the Yankees might be happy that lefties Jordan Montgomery and Jaime Garcia are well-rested if this thing gets ugly.

Outlook

Truthfully, a Game 3 victory for the Yankees would probably lean heavily on the team’s youthful bats and stellar bullpen, and it’s certainly not out of the question that the team could finally topple the Indians. The Tanaka/Carrasco matchup could be a nice little pitchers’ duel, or it could go the way of most of the rest of the playoffs and be another barnburner. Seriously, I don’t even know at this point. The Judge/Sanchez combo is potent enough to potentially lift the Yankees to another battle on Monday, especially if Joe Girardi doesn’t make another critical knob-related mistake.

But it’s not looking great for the guys in pinstripes. The mighty PECOTA projection system puts the odds for a win in Game 3 at almost exactly 50-50, which is surprising given New York’s home-field advantage. Cleveland vs. Houston in the ALCS seemed a bit like a fair accompli once we hit August, and nothing we’ve seen in the last four days changes that in the slightest. There’s a reason that the hottest team of the second half was the favorite going into this, and they should probably be the favorite in most games going forward—including this one—until something else dramatic changes.