The Boston Red Sox have their plan of attack in place.
After bludgeoning the Houston Astros 12-3 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, the Red Sox will aim to take a 3-1 series lead in Tuesday's Game 4 at Fenway Park.
Nick Pivetta avoided a relief appearance Monday, so he'll get the start Tuesday night. The right-hander is well-rested; his last outing came on Oct. 10 in a dazzling four-inning relief effort against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Pivetta has allowed just three runs on seven hits with 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings of work this postseason, but Tuesday will mark his playoff start. If the veteran gets pulled early, Tanner Houck is the likely candidate to replace him, with Josh Taylor and Ryan Brasier also available after not pitching Monday.
Left-hander Chris Sale also is available out of the bullpen for Game 4, manager Alex Cora confirmed Tuesday. If Sale isn't needed, though, Cora confirmed he will get the start in Wednesday's Game 5.
That would be the ideal situation for Boston, as it would allow postseason ace Nathan Eovaldi to start a potential Game 6 in Houston on Friday. Sale lasted just 2.2 innings in Boston's Game 1 loss to Houston but allowed just one run, showing signs of improvement after a five-run implosion against the Rays in the ALDS.
Potential Red Sox rotation, Games 4 through 7
|Game 4||Nick Pivetta|
|Game 5||Chris Sale|
|Game 6*||Nathan Eovaldi|
|Game 7*||Eduardo Rodriguez|
If the Red Sox can avoid using Sale on Tuesday and the seven-time All-Star can put forth multiple solid innings in Game 5, Cora will have two very good options: Use Eovaldi out of the bullpen in Game 5 if Boston is on the verge of clinching the series, or have Eovaldi start a potential Game 6 clincher (assuming the Red Sox win one of their next two games).
What if the series goes to seven games? It would likely be all hands on deck, but Eduardo Rodriguez -- who delivered his best outing of the postseason Monday -- would be a strong candidate to start on four days' rest.
In short, the Red Sox' rotation is lining up pretty well for the rest of this series as they attempt to punch their ticket to the World Series. As for the Astros? Their starter Tuesday is erstwhile ace Zack Greinke, who has allowed 25 runs over his last five appearances.