Only in 2020.
Division rivals, the Astros and A’s, are matched up in the ALDS.
The A’s think they have finally leaped frogged the Astros for dominance in the AL West. And well they might. They finished the season with .600 W-L percentage, seven games ahead of the sub-.500 Astros. Plus, they’ve finally advanced to the ALDS after failing to get past the Wild Card Game the last two years.
But...forgive the cliche...don’t underestimate the heart of a champion. Even though the Astros might have looked sluggish and possibly downtrodden and demoralized by the cheating scandal during the season, in the Wild Card Series it looked like their old fighting spirit, and their playoff experience, asserted itself in the two game sweep of the Twins. If the A’s have really surpassed the Astros for AL West dominance, they’ll have to prove it in this five game series.
On the mound the Astros lead with an arm that missed that series, Lance McCullers. Although in his first season back from Tommy John surgery McCullers was inconsistent, (3-3, 3.93 ERA) in his last three games of the season he was magnificent. In 17.2 innings he did not surrender an earned run, allowing only seven hits and four walks, while striking out 24 batters. Caution: this was against Texas and Seattle, two of the weaker hitting teams in baseball.
The A’s start with their best, Chris Bassitt, who is having a career year, 5-2 for the season with a 2.29 ERA.
For the season the A’s have the statistical advantage. The two teams were average league-wide in hitting, but the A’s got the slight edge in wRC+, 101 to 99.
In pitching the edge again goes to the A’s. Their team ERA was 3.77, 5th in MLB, whereas the Astros were 13th at 4.31. Astros starting pitching actually has a slight edge over the A’s in terms of ERA, but the main strength of the A’s staff, and the main weakness of the Astros, are the bullpens. Here the A’s hold an ERA advantage of 2.72 to 4.39.
The Astros are most likely going to have to get to the A’s starters to win this series, and hope their own can go deep.
The A’s have four key key players associated with the Astros organization. OF Robbie Grossman, having a career year, Tony Kemp, stud CF Ramon Laureano, acquired from the Astros in one of the more regrettable trades in her history, and, of course, Mike Fiers. Nuff said.
The Astros go into this series with almost the same roster as they had against the Twins, except they added pitcher Luis Garcia and dropped IF Jack Mayfield.
Here’s the Astros lineup.
For more on this game and series see below.
For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure
Game 1: Monday, October 5th @ 3:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - ESPN Radio, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Athletics - Bloomberg 960 AM, A’s Cast, ESPN Radio
Watch: TBS, TBS-INT