The Houston Astros will square off against the Oakland Athletics during the American League Division Series.
The American League Division Series kicks off Monday inside Dodger Stadium with No. 6 Houston Astros versus No. 2 Oakland Athletics.
The Astros have lost seven out of 10 games to Oakland but the Twins series seemed to raise their spirits.
Instead of best of three, this next one will be best of five so let’s look at the potential starting pitchers.
Zack Greinke will remain a starter but no one is sure how many innings he will go as he only threw four against the twins. Houston has been keeping him on a tight leash so the opposing team does not get too familiar.
The right hander is 3-3 with a 4.03 earned run average. His postseason stats look good with only a 2.25 ERA, according to baseball reference.
Framber Valdez has a 3.57 ERA, but will be up in the air as a starter since he can relieve too. However, with five games you need to utilize the pitching strategically. The Astros bullpen is young and unpredictable. It will be interesting to see how they use Valdez.
Lance McCullers Jr. did not pitch in the Wild Card series but will be a starter for Houston. He has gotten rest but needed some exposure to live batters as this is his first season post Tommy John surgery.
McCullers Jr. maintains a 3.39 ERA and has experience in the postseason. He gained a starting role in the 2017 World Series, which led to victory.
Cristian Javier could make a starting appearance with a 5-2 record and 3.48 ERA.
Lastly, Jose Urquidy is back and has been pitching well. He started game two for the Twins and will be back for the ALDS.
There are five potential starters with five games of play, but where will Valdez fall with relieving or starting? Usually, starters need five days of rest between pitching, so who knows what happens if game 5 happens.
Right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers has caused a storm in the MLB. He exposed the Astros cheating scandal but is now moving on. His 2020 stats include a 4.58 ERA with 59 innings pitched. He is a locked starter in the ALDS.
Fiers throws a fastball 52% of the time, according to pitchers list, with a changeup, slider and curveball every now and then.
Left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea is 4-3 with 54 innings and 45 strikeouts, which lead to a 4.50 ERA.
Chris Bassitt throws right-handed and with 63 innings in 2020, he maintains a 2.29 ERA with 55 strikeouts. Another left-handed pitcher, Jesus Luzardo, has a 3-2 record and a 4.12 ERA.
Lastly, Frankie Montas is 3 for 5 with a 5.60 record and would probably be used if necessary.
Oakland overall pithing is solid, considering they are ranked at no. 2 and are 36-24, while Houston is 29-31.
Key Offensive Players
Both teams have great hitters. I mean hello, they both have advanced to the next round of playoffs.
George Springer is not only a great defensive player, but he is consistent offensively. This lead-off batter has a .359 on base percentage in the playoffs and a .250 batting average in the regular season, according to baseball reference.
Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have been showing up this postseason. Slowly, all of Houston’s batters are getting their groove and smiles back.
Correa is batting .500 in the postseason, or 2 games with 6 at bats. Michael Brantley is hitting .286 and Kyle Tucker .375 as well this postseason.
For Oakland’s postseason statistics, catcher Sean Murphy is batting .375 with shortstop Marcus Semien and designated hitter Khris Davis batting .250, according to MLB.
Despite the difference in these team records, this match-up should be intriguing. One team will walk away victorious and advance. Will it be the underdogs with a young pitching staff or Oakland with a solid, consistent team?