ALCS PREVIEW

Here's how the Astros stack up with the Rays

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PROBABLE STARTERS

Sun, Oct. 11 - HOU: Framber Valdez vs. TB: Blake Snell

Mon, Ott. 12 - HOU: Lance McCullers Jr. vs. TB: TBD

REST OF SERIES TBD

STORYLINES

  • Rays Rematch - The Astros defeated the Rays in five games in the ALDS last year. It was a close series, as the home team won each game. Home field advantage is a moot point this year due to the neutral site, but the Astros no longer have Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Yordan Alvarez, Roberto Osuna, and more available to them as they did last year. Conversely, the Rays have seemingly only gotten better on paper.
  • Contrasting Styles - The Rays and Astros operate in two totally different ways offensively. The Astros were dead last in MLB in strikeouts, while the Rays struck out the most. It's Houston's greatest advantage heading into the series. If the power stroke the Astros have had in the postseason travels with them to San Diego, the offense should be able to put pressure on Tampa Bay. The Astros may have the edge offensively, but the Rays certainly have the edge on the mound. The Rays outperformed the Astros in nearly every pitching metric, and the lack of off days highlights the importance of depth, which the Rays have and the Astros don't.
  • Battle of the Scouting Reports - The Houston Astros new General Manager was hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays, where he spent the last 14 years of his life. James Click knows the ins-and-outs of the Rays, and it's certainly an advantage. It'll be important for the Astros front office and Dusty Baker to be on the same page and optimize scouting reports. A bungled decision to use Deivi Garcia as an opener in game two with J.A. Happ as a follower was the difference between the Yankees winning and losing that series. The Rays front office is always prepared, and they'll undoubtedly have some interesting wrinkles to throw Houston's way.


PREDICTION

The Astros will defeat the Rays in six games. No team that strikes out as often as the Rays do will be a legitimate World Series contender. While the Rays pitching staff is better, the Astros staff isn't as far behind as it seems on the surface. The Astros offense will be able to put pressure on the Rays, while the Rays will be hoping for big swings.

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