ALDS PREVIEW

Examining the key factors in Astros ALDS matchup against White Sox

Composite image by Jack Brame

After winning their division over the weekend, Houston is set to take on the American League Central Division champion Chicago White Sox in the ALDS.

This is the first time these two clubs have played postseason baseball against each other since the 2005 World Series.

The Astros won the regular season series 5-2 and outscored the South Siders 35-21.

As playoff rosters are being constructed for both teams, here are some key players to watch when the Astros meet the White Sox in the ALDS.

Impact Players:

The Astros "Magnificent Seven" can compete with any lineup in baseball.

This offense led the league in batting average, hits, RBI's and runs scored this season.

They are top 10 in home runs and walks as well.

One of the best players for the Astros this season has been the American League batting title winner Yuli Gurriel.

The 37-year-old is the second-oldest player to win this accolade in either league behind Barry Bonds (38) who won it in 2002.

Gurriel, along with his teammate Michael Brantley, finished with the highest and second-highest batting average in the American League respectively.

Both players hit above .300 for the year, and have gotten on base consistently all season.

Yordan Alvarez supplied the power numbers this year, as he led the team in home runs (33) and RBI's (104).

The 3rd-year slugger played a handful of games in the outfield this season, and could be used in the field or a designated hitter in the playoffs.

Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker had career years in homers with 26 and 30 respectively.

Finally, Jose Altuve is having a better season than he did in 2020 and Alex Bregman has returned to form since his quad injury sent him to the injured list back in June.

Here is what the postseason lineup could look like for the Astros.

2B Jose Altuve

LF Michael Brantley

3B Alex Bregman

DH Yordan Alvarez

1B Yuli Gurriel

RF Kyle Tucker

SS Carlos Correa

CF Jake Meyers

C Martin Maldonado

This is one of the best batting lineups in baseball and could be the determining factor in deciding a playoff series.

Impact Pitchers:

Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5) and Framber Valdez (11-6) have been a great one-two punch for the starting rotation this year. The former will start Game 1 on Thursday and the ladder will most likely take the mound Friday.

Valdez had some issues with command as of late and leads the majors with 76 walks, but is great at not allowing home runs, with only a 0.7 HR/9 on the season.

The White Sox have a right-handed heavy lineup, but his elite curveball makes him a great asset to have against these righties.

With the announcement from Astros' manager Dusty Baker that veteran pitcher Zack Greinke could come out of the bullpen this postseason, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy to be the likely Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary) starters. Jake Odorizzi could be an option out of the pen as well this postseason.

The White Sox rotation will most likely be Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Carlos Rodon.

These starters went a combined 2-3 against the Astros this year and look to be a formidable staff to face in the first round.

Impact Bullpen:

Although Ryan Pressly had an All-Star season this year, the Astros still needed to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline.

Houston acquired Kendall Graveman from their division rival Mariners, and Yimi Garcia from the Marlins, while moving Cristian Javier to a full-time relief pitcher role.

These corresponding moves improved the bullpen dramatically, and gave the Astros many opportunities to hold leads throughout the season.

Odds:

According to FanDuel, The Astros are -124 to win the series and the White Sox are +106.

Up Next:

The ALDS will start on Thursday at Minute Maid Park with the game start time still TBD.

McCullers will get the start Game 1 and will most likely face White Sox ace Lance Lynn.

Here is how the ALDS format will play out.

Game 1: Thursday, Oct. 7 at MMP

Game 2: Friday, Oct. 8 at MMP

Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 10 in Chicago

Game 4 (if necessary): Monday, Oct. 11 in Chicago

Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, Oct. 13 at MMP

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome