SERIES PREVIEW

Astros vs. Twins: It's time to flip the switch

It's playoff time! Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tue, Sept. 29 - HOU: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03) vs. MIN: Kenta Maeda (6-1, 2.70)

Wed, Sept. 30 - HOU: TBD vs. MIN: Jose Berrios (5-4, 4.00)

Thur, Oct. 1 - HOU: Lance McCullers (3-3, 3.93) vs. MIN: Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.38)

STORYLINES

Flip the Switch: The Astros limp into the playoffs with a 29-31 record, definitely a beneficiary of the expanded postseason picture for 2020. However, once the postseason starts, all the teams are 0-0. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve started to show glimpses of turning the corner in the final series against the Rangers, while Kyle Tucker and George Springer carried the offense down the stretch. If those four can click combined with the ever-so-steady Michael Brantley, then the Astros have the opportunity to play spoiler in Minnesota.

Home Dreamin' vs. Road Demons: The Minnesota Twins played 24-7 baseball within the confines of Target Field, while the Houston Astros were 9-23 when they played anywhere other than the juicebox. It's certainly an ugly split, and the lack of home field advantage is definitely a factor for the Astros.

Who Chunks Up the Deuce: Zack Greinke is slated to start game one, while Lance McCullers looks poised to take the rubber in game three. One of Framber Valdez or Jose Urquidy will take the mound in game two. Urquidy was nails in the World Series last year. He's a bulldog that performs consistently and gives the team a chance to win every time he takes the hill. Look for Dusty to use Urquidy in game two, while keeping Framber available as a bridge to more trusted relievers.

Doors Open & Close: The series in Minnesota could be the last time that George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and Yuli Gurriel ever suit up for the Astros. Three of those four have been key contributors in Houston since 2017, while Brantley joined the fray in 2019. World Series title or not, 2020 represents the close of the Altuve-Springer window in Houston. While it's possible Springer could come back, Altuve isn't going anywhere, and the Astros will still be good, future titles will come with a new-look roster on the backs of guys like Bregman, Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez.

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