After shutting out the Rays on Thursday night to go 4-3 on the road trip, the Boston Red Sox will return to Boston on Friday to kick off a weekend series against the Cleveland Indians.
The Sox currently sit two games ahead of the Athletics for the second Wild Card spot and 1.5 games behind the Yankees for the first. Cleveland is theoretically in contention for a postseason berth, but they currently trail Boston by eight games as the end of the regular season draws nearer.
Game 1 (Friday, 7:10 PM ET)
Nathan Eovaldi (10-8, 3.71 ERA) will open the series for the Sox. The right-hander pitched well last time out against the Indians, going 5.1 innings, allowing a pair of earned runs, and striking out seven. Eovaldi now has a 1.87 ERA over his last four outings, proving that he has righted the ship heading into September. Over that stretch, the veteran has punched out 30 batters over 24.1 innings of work, while walking just two.
Cal Quantrill (4-2, 2.93 ERA) will be on the bump for Cleveland in Game 1. Over his last seven appearances, Quantrill has a 1.43 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 44 innings pitched. The 26-year-old righty finished August with an opposing batting average of .195, and a K% of 26.8%. On August 28th vs. Boston, Quantrill posted seven innings of one-run ball for his eighth quality start in 10 outings.
Game 2 (Saturday, 4:10 PM ET)
Tanner Houck (0-3, 3.63 ERA) will start Game 2 for the Red Sox. In 11 games this season (nine starts), Houck has strucken out 55 batters in 44.2 innings, averaging 11.8 K/9. On August 29th, Houck allowed just one hit in 5.1 innings against the Indians, but walked four batters while hitting three. Due to his relative inexperience and difficulty managing his pitches (along with a short leash at times), the 5.1 inning start was his longest of the season. As he is now a regular part of the rotation, the Sox will look for Houck to stay under control and go 6+ innings on Saturday.
The Gonzaga alum Eli Morgan (2-6, 5.98 ERA) will take the ball in Game 2 for the Indians. Morgan has struggled in 2021, allowing a .266 opposing average and an .836 OPS. Last time out against the Sox, he allowed two earned runs in three innings pitched, walking one and striking out three.
Game 3 (Sunday, 1:10 PM ET)
Making the start in Game 3 for Boston will be Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.67 ERA). Pivetta has struggled over his last seven appearances, going 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA. In that span, he has walked 16 batters in 32 innings of work, while allowing 29 hits. In his last three starts, the 28-year-old has allowed twelve earned runs in just 10.2 IP. Pivetta will look to bounce back against an offense that is batting a meager .236 against right-handed pitching.
Zach Plesac (9-4, 4.49 ERA) will be on the mound for the Indians in the series finale. On August 31st, Plesac dominated Kansas City, allowing just two hits over seven shutout innings. The former twelfth-rounder has shown potential to be a dominant starter for years to come. In the shortened 2020 season, he posted a 2.28 ERA in 55.1 innings of work, along with a 0.80 WHIP.
Keys to the Series
The rotation was solid against Tampa Bay, allowing six earned runs in 17 innings of work (excluding Brad Peacock’s opening appearance in Game 2), good for a 3.18 ERA. Sale posted six innings of two-run ball in Game 3, and Eduardo Rodriguez tossed six shutout frames in Game 4. While those performances were uplifting, old habits die hard. The Sox will need the rotation to continue to perform if they want to take the series, and hold their WC spot.
Boston is coming in with eight players on the COVID-19 injured list. Despite the COVID outbreak, the Sox salvaged a 4-3 road trip.
The Sox also scratched two Triple-A pitchers from their starts, in order to have them ready for another positive COVID-19 test.
One day after the WooSox scratched Kutter Crawford from his start, they've scratched Connor Seabold from his scheduled outing on Friday. Sox are obviously keeping top rotation depth/bullpen length options available in case of further COVID-19 infections.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) September 3, 2021
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)