Justin Verlander Houston Astros
Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Boston Red Sox during Game One of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are probably in too big of a hole to return to the World Series, but they should be able to extend the 2018 ALCS and find their way back to Fenway Park. The defending champions are pretty heavy favorites over the Boston Red Sox in Thursday night’s Game 5.

Trailing Boston 3-1, Houston will look to Justin Verlander in their final home game of the series. With the Red Sox unable to send their ace to the mound, Boston is a +165 underdog in the potential clincher, per OddsShark. The Astros have +195 betting odds to extend the series.

Chris Sale has been pushed back to a possible Game 6 because of a stomach illness that put him in the hospital for a night last week. David Price will get the start for Boston Thursday night instead, still seeking his first playoff win as a starter.

After two disappointing losses, Houston could not be in a better position to keep the series going. They’ll be relying on one of the league’s most dominant pitchers against arguably the worst playoff pitcher in MLB history.

Price was unable to make it out of the fifth inning in Game 2, giving up four runs and nine baserunners in what was actually one of his best postseason starts. In 11 career playoff starts, Price has a 6.16 ERA. He recorded five outs and gave up three runs to the New York Yankees in his first postseason start of the year.

Because of Sale’s illness, Price will be starting on three days’ rest. He’s only done that one other time in his career.

Verlander will be going on full rest after winning Game 1 for the Astros with six innings of two-run ball. The veteran has pitched to a 2.38 ERA in seven playoff starts with Houston since last season. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those starts, going at least six innings in all but one outing and giving up well below a baserunner per inning.

Maybe Boston’s hitters are playing so well that it doesn’t matter which starter they are facing. The Red Sox scored seven runs in their Game 2 victory, and they put exactly eight runs on the board in both Game 3 and Game 4.

But Houston’s lineup has performed well enough to win multiple games this series, scoring at least five runs three times. Considering the Game 5 starting pitching matchup, the Astros should be able to do enough on offense to survive for at least another two days.

Game 5 Prediction: Houston over Boston, 7-2