Verlander has been at his best since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a trade on August 31. McHugh is 16-0 in September and October since 2014. They need to assume Game 3 in Boston is a lost cause, and hope the baseball gods smile on them when it comes to pass.
The two teams will face each other in the AL Division Series starting Thursday in Houston.
Even if Farrell gives the nod to someone else in Game 3, Sale or Pomeranz could end up starting four of the possible five games in this series. Max Scherzer is recovering from a hamstring he hurt last weekend, and general manager Mike Rizzo said the team hasn't determined when the two-time Cy Young Award victor will face Chicago.
One thing is for sure: The road will not be easy. Chris Sale needs to pitch like Chris Sale, for at least Game 1. He has a different feeling entering the playoffs this year after a trade just before the deadline for players to be eligible for the postseason brought him to Houston for another shot at a ring at age 34. Runs will surely be at a premium as Sale has had a historic regular season with 308 strikeouts. Overall, Jose Altuve leads the Astros with 204 hits and 81 RBI while Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel have combined for 316 hits and 146 RBI. In fact, Houston was just 21-24 against southpaws. Besides Mitch Moreland (10-for-29), the rest of the Red Sox core has been quite bad.
Hanley Ramirez (23 homers), Mitch Moreland (22) and Andrew Benintendi (20) are Boston's other leading sluggers, while Eduardo Nunez, Dustin Pedroia and Christian Vasquez also have the ability to come up with key hits.
Let's start with one statement: Astros manager A.J. Hinch has selected Justin Verlander to start Game 1 of the ALDS.
If necessary, Game 4 would be played Monday at Fenway Park and Game 5 would be played Wednesday in Houston.
Pomeranz had thrown a 1-2-3 sixth, or Farrell might have opted for the bullpen sooner. He had a 3.72 ERA in his time with NY and struck out 59 batters in 65.1 innings.
The Red Sox have the better closer, mainly because Craig Kimbrel is better than everyone's closer. The 28-year-old lefty has a 1.31 ERA in six career starts against the Astros, who haven't faced him since July 2016 while with the White Sox. They certainly have the guys to do it. Moreland has been here before; Ramirez has been terrific in the postseason; Devers could be what Xander Bogaerts was in 2013. But Gregerson got bombed in September, posting a 7.71 ERA in 9.1 innings.
When the Boston Red Sox signed former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher David Price to a $217 million contract in late 2015, they didn't envision him as a reliever. This prediction is a no-nonsense, no punches held back prediction of the Boston Red Sox-Houston Astros ALDS matchup.
But baseball is variable - highly so - and anything can happen, especially given that the Houston offense has been so much better than the Boston offense this season.
The Red Sox and Astros played seven times during the regular season, with the Astros taking four of those games. He says the Astros hitting should put them over the top.
World Series or first-round flameout? The Sox are always the better team on the field when Sale pitches.