Daniel Corrigan | October 4th, 2019
The Houston Astros finished the season with 107 wins. Good enough for the best record in the AL, and the best record in all of baseball. With that, they take on the winner of the Wild Card game, the Tampa Bay Rays.
|Oct. 4||Tampa Bay at Houston||2 p.m.||FS1||Minute Maid Park|
|Oct. 5||Tampa Bay at Houston||9 p.m.||FS1||Minute Maid Park|
|Oct. 7||Houston at Tampa Bay||TBA||FS1 or MLBN||Tropicana Field|
|Oct. 8||Houston at Tampa Bay||TBA||FS1||Tropicana Field|
|Oct. 10||Tampa Bay at Houston||TBA||FS1||Minute Maid Park|
It’s safe to say that the Astros have the best one-two punch with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It’s also safe to say that they own the best rotation in all of baseball. They are all but guaranteed to own the American League Cy Young winner. Verlander finished the season with a 21-6 record with 223.0 IP and exactly 300 strikeouts. He also finished with a 3.27 FIP and a 0.803 WHIP. He would win the Cy Young with the number in any other year. But Cole finished the season with a 20-5 record and 326 in only 212.1 IP. He also had a FIP of 2.64 and a WHIP of 0.895.
To go along with this furious twosome is Zack Greinke, who came over from the Diamondbacks at the deadline. Adding Greinke to an already explosive rotation is just unfair. Rounding out the rotation for the Astros will be Wade Miley and Aaron Sanchez.
Collectively, the Rays had the second-best ranked rotation in baseball. They finished with a combined 3.65 ERA, 1621 strikeouts, and a BAA of .230. Headlining the Rays starters is Charlie Morton who fished with an FIP of 2.81 and a WHIP of 1.084. Morton was a World Series hero for the Astros in 2017 as he was on the hill during game seven at Dodgers stadium and led the Astros to a World Series title.
Also in that rotation is last year’s Cy Young winner, Blake Snell. What a fall from grace. He has been serviceable this season, but it has been a disappointing year for Snell. With only 107.0 IP and 147 strikeouts with a WHIP of 1.271. The Rays will need Snell to be sharp if they want to make a deep run this postseason. The Rays will also feature Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow, and Ryne Stanek.
The Astros feature a bullpen headlined by Roberto Osuna, Hector Rondon, and Will Harris. The only lefty on the ALDS roster is Wade Miley and there is no word on whether or not he will be in the rotation or not. My guess is that he is in the bullpen and the Astros will ride-out with a four-man rotation. The Astros bullpen was their biggest Achilles heel this season and with the depth at starting pitcher, they might not be relied on very much.
The Rays finished with the best-ranked bullpen in baseball. If the Rays want any shot at defeating Goliath, they need for the game to be close when they get to the bullpen. The Rays will roll out Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe, Emilio Pagan, and Adam Kolarek. If the Rays can get to the bullpen with a lead, they might have a shot at winning the series
Key Players Offense: Astros
Where to begin? How about the man who damn near took the MVP away from Mike Trout. Alex Bregman has been nothing short of amazing this season. Having players like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Michael Brantley, and now the surprise rookie phenom, Yordan Alvarez. If the Astros are able to jump all over the Rays starting pitching, it will be a wrap on this series. This will be the key to the Astros not only in this series but their whole World Series run.
Key Players Offense: Rays
This is not the Rays strongest department, but they do have a lot of depth and solid players here. Let’s start with the Wild Card hero, Yandy Diaz acquired by the Rays in the offseason from the Cleveland Indians. He hit two home runs in the game on route to a 5-1 Rays win in Oakland. The Rays will also feature Jesus Aguilar, Mike Zunino, Ji-Man Choi, and Tommy Pham. Like I said, the Rays don’t have all the talent here, but they have depth. If they can’t take a lead early, they may be in huge trouble.
Prediction: Astros in three
It will be a sweep by the Astros. They just have too much offense, and that starting pitching is going to be lethal to this young Rays lineup. The Rays are young, they will only get better. This series will be a good indicator of what they need to do in the offseason to take them to that next level. But for now, they have no shot.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images