Houston: RHP Lance McCullers: 6-7, 3.22 ERA, 125 2/3 innings, 129 SO, 43 BB, 3.00 SO/BB Ratio
If you've followed the Astros at all this season you know that they relied heavily on Lance McCullers in the rotation this season despite him never throwing a pitch in Triple-A. Had it not been for Carlos Correa, the Astros fan base would probably be talking about promoting McCullers as the AL Rookie of the Year. The fanbase just simply did not expect him to pitch like he has this soon.
He had a good season in High-A last year but struggled with control and command which expected to hold him back for at least another season. But, as with just about every thing else this season, we have been satisfyingly proven wrong. He dominated Double-A into an unexpected call-up straight to the majors that left us all running around like a bunch of excited chickens with our heads chopped off.
Sure, we expected it to be a single game fill in but it ended up being a full-time gig (aside from a few breaks to control innings).
His electric fastball/curve combination have been the calling card for his success. His fastball averages nearly 95 MPH and his curve is lethal. But, don't forget about his changeup that hits nearly 90. Not a huge separation but that pitch but it moves so much for such a hard pitch.
As a rookie pitcher in his first post-season action, there has to be concern for the nerves. However, this is the same kid who skipped Triple-A and never missed a beat. He handled the majors like a pro. And, in his one game agains the Royals he allowed just one run over seven innings. A good track record with eight days rest is as good as you can ask for a rookie.
Kansas City: RHP Yordano Ventura: 13-8, 4.08 ERA, 163 1/3 innings, 156 SO, 58 BB, 2.69 SO/BB Ratio
Well the Astros have seen one side of Ventura. As Perry discussed late last week, Ventura has had a very up and down season which even included getting sent down to the minors. He's had his fair share of blunders but he also has his fair share of gems. He's a young pitcher with an electric fastball and that's not uncommon with that profile.
The biggest thing for Astros fans is to wonder which Ventura comes out today. The Royals put the series on his shoulders in game one with an expectation to get out to a good start and the Astros tagged him early for three runs and chased him out of the game.
Sure, Ventura is young. He's just 24 years old but this isn't your typical 24-year old. This is his third season in the league. He's accumulated over 360 innings of regular season ball. He's pitched in big games before. This is the same pitcher that tossed seven scoreless innings in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game 7 against the Giants.
There's reason to take some confidence in going against him again in Game 4. But, there's no reason to bring arrogance as he's more than capable of turning it around and dominating. He'll bring his electric fastball.