Two more wins and they're in

ALCS Game 6 Preview: Astros vs. Rays

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a wild ride in Game 5, where the Astros would gamble and win on a bullpen day, they live to play ALCS Game 6 on Friday and get to hand the ball to their best pitcher right now, Framber Valdez. With a win, they will force one more game, a decisive Game 7, with a chance to become the second team in MLB history to erase a 3-0 series deficit in a best-of-seven series. But first, Game 6:

Game Facts

When: Friday, October 16th, 5:07 PM Central.

Where: Petco Park - San Diego, California.

TV: TBS.

Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Framber Valdez vs. Blake Snell

Series: TB leads 3-2.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central)Pitching MatchupHome Team
Game 1Final: Rays 2, Astros 1Framber Valdez (L) vs. Blake Snell (W)Rays
Game 2Final: Rays 4, Astros 2Lance McCullers Jr. (L) vs. Charlie Morton (W)Rays
Game 3Final: Rays 5, Astros 2Ryan Yarbrough (W) vs. Jose Urquidy (L)Astros
Game 4Final: Astros 4, Rays 3Tyler Glasnow (L) vs. Zack Greinke (W)Astros
Game 5Final: Astros 4, Rays 3John Curtiss (ND) vs Luis Garcia (ND)Astros
Game 6Fri 10/16, 5:07 PMFramber Valdez vs. Blake SnellRays
Game 7*Sat 10/17, 7:37 PMLance McCullers Jr.+ vs. Charlie Morton+Rays

All games played at Petco Park.

* If necessary
+ Projected starter

Game Storylines

A great time to bat first

After playing the home team in the last three games and batting second, building their momentum along the way, Houston will now switch back to the visiting team for Game 6, and if they force it, Game 7. Heading to the plate first presents them a chance to continue their recent momentum and set the tone right away in the game, if they can score, especially on another first-inning home run.

Beyond that, while they have done increasingly better to get hits and bring in runs, the Astros still need to improve. In particular, Alex Bregman could use a slump-busting performance. Since going 2-for-4 in Game 1, he has gone 1-for-15 over the last four games, including some tough-luck outs along the way. If he can heat up and have a good day, that bodes well for Houston.

A great time to have your best arm on the mound

Dusty Baker stated that had Game 5 gone to extra innings, they would have been forced to bring in Framber Valdez to pitch some innings. Instead, Correa's walk-off home run has them in a prime position to stay in and possibly win this series. Valdez has been Houston's best arm down this stretch, including giving his team six two-run innings in a Game 1 loss.

After the bullpen day on Thursday, they will need him to have a similar or better start, as they can't afford to dip into their bullpen too early. Having used seven of their relievers in Game 5, including an extended appearance by Enoli Paredes and more than an inning by Ryan Pressly, it'll be interesting how Dusty Baker navigates the back-half of the game, especially if it's close or if the Astros are down. To his credit, he's had a couple of good days of right calls and gambles, so we'll see what he can pull from up his sleeve.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome