Two familiar foes will face off in the American League Division Series as the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics will begin their series on Monday, October 5. After knocking off worthy opponents in the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox respectively, these teams will battle it out. This ALDS will be an extension of the war they had in the regular season, but on a grander stage. There are plenty of juicy storylines between these teams, so here is a preview of Astros Vs Athletics.
As residents of the AL West, these teams faced off ten times in the regular season. The A’s managed to handle the Astros in seven of those ten matchups. Neither team was particularly impressive offensively, but Oakland got the big hits when they needed them. The A’s averaged about 3.8 runs per game, solid but not spectacular. The Astros averaged just 2.5 runs per game in the season series. Both pitching staffs were great, but Oakland prevented Houston from getting those big hits, which was the difference in the series.
On the batting front, these team’s run totals are similar, but they got there in different ways. The Astros scored five more runs than the A’s: 279-274. Even the home run totals were very close: Astros hit 69, A’s hit 71. However, their team batting averages were completely different: Astros at .240, A’s at .225, second worst in the AL. The way Oakland gets it done at the same level as Houston is by walking at a much higher rate. The A’s walked 238 times, compared to the Astros 192. Drawing walks is a strength of the A’s offense, and walks have been the bane of the Astros pitching staff.
Houston walked the fifth-most batters in the AL, giving 217 free passes. Oakland on the other hand, walked only 165 batters, the second fewest in the AL. These numbers are reflected in their team ERAs: Astros at 4.31, A’s at 3.77. While there is a pretty wide gap between the ERAs, diving deeper shows that the A’s do have a major weakness in their pitching staff that must be exploited. This weakness is the starting rotation. The A’s starting staff has an ERA of 4.49. If the Astros are to win this series, it is imperative to score early and often. They won’t have as many opportunities against the bullpen, as their ERA is 2.72, best in the AL by over half a run.
Other Interesting Storylines
These teams are not on the best of terms after the Ramon Laureano–Alex Cintron incident. While the majority of vitriol is between those two, these teams would love to send each other home. It is the postseason, so the regular season bad blood is likely to boil over here, but a lot of eyes will be on these teams.
Despite meeting ten times in the regular season, the A’s somehow managed to avoid pitching Mike Fiers against the Astros at any point during the season. Fiers of course was the man who notified the media about the Astros sign-stealing scandal in 2017. Fiers was a member of that Astros team although he did not make the postseason roster. It will be fascinating to watch, when Fiers and the Astros face off.
The final storyline isn’t major, but it is an interesting little note. This ALDS will take place in Dodger Stadium as a part of MLB’s postseason bubble. Dodger Stadium is where the Astros won the 2017 World Series. While that World Series is clouded by the scandal, the Astros have some great memories there nonetheless.
All Division Series from the AL to the NL will be great watches, but Astros vs Athletics may just steal the show.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images