Postseason baseball has finally returned. There truly is no better time of the year, definitely not within the baseball season. And there may not be a better matchup to start the Division Series than the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros. Both teams could very well represent the American League in the World Series. However, only one team can advance to the American League Championship Series. Here is a White Sox vs Astros ALDS preview.
These two teams may be the most evenly matched in the entire postseason. Along with the Tampa Bay Rays, the White Sox and the Astros were in the mix for the best team in the AL basically all year. That is for good reason because both squads are loaded with talent.
At the plate, there are few lineups as deep as these two. On the Chicago side, their .256 batting average and .336 on-base percentage rank fourth and second in the AL respectively. Surprisingly, the White Sox only hit 190 home runs, which was 11th in the AL. Led by Tim Anderson (.309 batting average) and Jose Abreu (30 homers, 117 RBI), the White Sox have a dangerous and diverse offensive profile.
The Astros found themselves at or just below the top in most offensive categories. They were first in the AL in batting average (.267), OBP (.339), runs scored (863), and hits (1,496). They were fifth in home runs with 221, despite having the second-fewest strikeouts with only 1,222. Houston had a number of players on the offensive leader-boards including the AL Batting Champion Yuli Gurriel and the September Player of the Month, Kyle Tucker.
On the starting pitching front, the White Sox hold the slightest edge over the Astros in terms of ERA. Chicago starters finished the season with an AL-best 3.57 ERA. Houston is just behind them with a 3.60 mark. The White Sox rotation dealt with injuries towards the end of the season, but they still found themselves at the top of the AL. For Houston, Lance McCullers Jr. and Framber Valdez will be toeing the rubber in the first two games. Chicago has not yet announced their pitchers to start the series, but they have plenty of options such as Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn.
The White Sox also have the edge in bullpen ERA. Their 3.97 ERA ranks fifth in the AL, while Houston’s 4.06 mark is seventh. Both bullpens have their share of flaws though. Since acquiring him at the trade deadline, Craig Kimbrel has a 5.09 ERA for Chicago while the Astros still have issues at times bridging the gap from starter to closer Ryan Pressly. Deadline acquisitions Yimi Garcia and Phil Maton have ERA’s around five as Astros.
One of the most interesting storylines isn’t necessarily between the lines but in the dugout. Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker are the oldest managers in baseball and they have had their fair share of matchups in their managerial careers. As we know, La Russa is already in the Hall of Fame and Baker is looking to cement his HOF status.
The regular-season series doesn’t necessarily mean anything come postseason time, but it is worth a look. These two teams faced off seven times in the regular season and the Astros won five of the matchups, including a four-game sweep at Minute Maid in June. Another interesting note regarding the White Sox is their road record. The White Sox were 40-41 away from Chicago, which was by far the worst among postseason teams. Houston has the home-field advantage in this series, so it will be interesting to see if that plays any role.
Game One of the White Sox vs Astros ALDS matchup is Thursday, October 7. This gargantuan clash is batting leadoff for all of the Division Series, starting at 3:07 pm on FS1.
Embed from Getty Images