The Boston Red Sox will be looking to better their performance from last year’s ALDS, where they were swept.

Last season, the Boston Red Sox won their first division title since 2013 and roared into the playoffs on the back of David Ortiz’s historic final year in the big leagues. Their path to the World Series looked clear after the Cleveland Indians lost two big names from their starting rotation. We all know what happened, though. The Indians raced past the Red Sox with just enough starting pitching and the unhittable stuff of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

The Red Sox struggled to find their identity without Ortiz this year. The power numbers are way down as they finished last in the AL with 168 home runs. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez struggled the most without Ortiz hitting between them for protection. While the Red Sox look different, they still won 93 games thanks to the presence of Chris Sale and the rise of Drew Pomeranz. Pitching and defense are what the Red Sox will have to rely on this year to get past the loaded Houston Astros in the ALDS.

It may seem like a longshot, but the Red Sox have the horses to shut the Astros down and enough offense to hang in there and win three close ballgames. Here are the five biggest reasons the Red Sox will upset the Astros and get through to the ALCS.

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 30: Mookie Betts #30 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning of a game against the Houston Astros on September 30, 2017 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

5. A year older and wiser

The Red Sox exciting young core was getting their first taste of the postseason last year and looked totally overwhelmed by the pressure to send David Ortiz out with a World Series ring. This is a different year, and even though the faces are mostly the same, the Red Sox have a different feel without Big Papi dominating the clubhouse. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are the leaders now and this time they will be ready to handle the pressure.

Boston was the heavy favorite in the ALDS last year, and it weighed on them, especially after the Indians jumped out and then rode Andrew Miller to victory. The Red Sox can play freer this year in the ALDS, and that will help them pull the upset of the Astros.

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