Previewing and Predicting 2020 ALCS Matchup

2020 ALCS
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James Rowe Previews and Predicts the 2020 ALCS

Tampa Bay Rays vs Houston Astros

The 2020 ALCS is upon us and it promises to be exciting. This series presents an interesting matchup between the reigning AL champions and the best team in the American League in 2020. Many baseball fans will be incredibly invested in this matchup–with Tampa Bay Rays support encompassing those cheering for a new team to make the World Series, and others will be actively rooting against the Houston Astros because of the cheating scandal.  

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays had to grind it out against their AL East rival New York Yankees in the AL Division Series and advanced after an awesome five-game set. Mike Brosseau hit a dramatic game-winning home run off Yankees’ reliever Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of Game 5 to help lead Tampa Bay into the ALCS. 

However, their victory should have come as no surprise. Tampa Bay was the best team in the AL for the entire season and showed why they are one of the best-run organizations in the sport. What makes them especially dangerous is they are so deep that it’s hard for any teams to match up against them.

The Rays have one of the best pitching staffs in the league, arguably the number one reason for their team’s success this season. Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell lead the rotation and make as good a 1-2 punch as there is. The bullpen of Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Yarbrough, and Nick Anderson are lock-down good and lead perhaps the best relief corps in the league. What will be interesting is how Rays pitching will fare against the Houston bats. However, it would not seem to be a big concern as they were able to hold at bay a suddenly red hot New York offense.

Tampa Bay’s offense wins games unconventionally. Their numbers don’t look very good, but the Rays get it done. They have to manufacture a lot of runs, which leads them to steal a lot of bases. Moreover,  the offense has gotten a nice shot in the arm from Randy Arozarena, who has been the hottest hitter in the playoffs. Brandon Lowe, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Willy Adames make the lineup more dangerous than it first appears. 

Houston Astros

The Astros made the Oakland Athletics look young and inexperienced in their ALDS matchup, taking three out of four games. Houston’s offense seemingly came to life against an excellent Oakland pitching corps, which obliterated any chance the A’s had.  While many are not thrilled with having them in the ALCS because of a cheating scandal, the Astros will look to prove that they are a great ballclub. Houston is making its fourth straight trip to the ALCS, so the Astros hope to use their experience to move on to the World Series.

Coming into the postseason, one of the biggest concerns for the Astros was starting pitching. Ace Justin Verlander went down with a season-ending surgery, which hurt them a lot in that regards. The hope was that someone would step up–and that is what has happened. Framber Valdez has been pitching like an ace in this postseason. The hope is that he and the rest of the rotation can keep it up. The bullpen is still a question, but the Astros do have a weapon in Enoli Paredes.

One thing that has been clicking on all cylinders is the Houston offense, which suddenly awakened this postseason. The Astros always had the talent, but Astros hitters are getting hot at the perfect moment. Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa are leading a lineup that has produced a lot of runs lately. If they continue that, it could spell a Houston advance. The Astros hit the Oakland pitching corps really well. They hope they can do the same against a better Tampa Bay rotation and bullpen. 

Series prediction: Rays in six.

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