At last. The real games.
Here in Houston we’ve come to expect the thrill and excitement of the second season. We’re probably pretty spoiled. And it won’t last forever.
But for now, let us savor another ALDS, this time against the young and hungry Chicago White Sox. In analyzing this series we’ve done more than our due diligence here at TCB. For more on this series go HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
In Game 1, the Astros send Lance McCullers (13-5, 3.16 ERA) against Chicago’s Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA). If Lynn had pitched a few more innings he would have won the AL ERA crown, but as it is McCullers was second in the AL in ERA among qualified starters. He led the AL in BA (.205), opponents OPS (.628), and hits per nine innings (6.76). McCullers was second in the league among qualified starters in GB% as well at 56.4%.
The Astros were 5-2 against the White Sox during the regular season, but the last meeting was way back in July. But there are other reasons to like the Stros today.
Their home record of 51-30 is one of the best in the majors, whereas the White Sox are only 40-41 on the road. McCullers and the Astros core have a lot more playoff experience than the White Sox and a history of clutch performances.
The Astros led MLB in runs scored and wRC+ at 116 but the White Sox were not far behind hitting 109. But the Sox have the edge in team pitching, with a 3.73 team ERA versus the Astros 3.78. Surprisingly, the vaunted White Sox bullpen measures out only slightly ahead of the Astros’, with a 3.97 ERA compared to the Stros’ 4.06. Peripheral stats favor the Sox to a greater degree, but perhaps the Astros better team defense accounts for that difference.
However, if the White Sox can bring a lead into the seventh inning, they are confident their closing trio of Michael Kopech, Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendricks can shut down the game better than the Astros’ group of Ryne Stanek, Kendall Graveman, and Ryan Pressly.
The oddsmakers favor the Astros today, having them at -130. (Risk $130 to win $100)
As of this writing, the Sox have not announced their starting lineup but here is the Astros starting nine.
For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure
Game 1: Lance Lynn (RHP, 11-6, 2.69 ERA, 176 K’s) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 13-5, 3.16 ERA, 185 K’s)
When: Thursday, October 7th @ 3:07 pm CDT
Listen: White Sox - WMVP 1000 AM, ESPN Radio, WRTO 1200 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FS1-INT, FS1