With only a weekend between the postseason and an early vacation, the Houston Astros head to the desert.
The Houston Astros (87-72) and Arizona Diamondbacks (84-74) used to play each other all the time when they both resided in the National League, but since Arizona just started playing near the end of the 90s, the two have only played each other 143 times. In those games, Houston is 64-79 for a .448 winning percentage — their second-worst overall and the lowest from amongst all NL teams.
But All Time records have little bearing on this weekend’s contests. With the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers weakening each other, the Astros have several paths to the postseason. Mostly though, If Houston wins at least twice, they’re in. More on that later.
This is the first time this season that Houston will play Arizona, with the two clubs splitting four games last season. The final time the Astros secured a victory from Arizona was one year and one day ago, on September 27 when Houston won a 10-2 decision. Jose Altuve (27, 28), David Hensley (1), Alex Bregman (22) and Jeremy Peña (20) went deep in the win, as Altuve reached base four times. Luis Garcia (14-8, 3.81) got the win, striking out six and walking none over six four-hit innings. He only allowed a solo home run, to Geraldo Perdomo (5).
Houston just won two-of-three from the Mariners, including the final game, 8-3 on Wednesday. Yordan Alvarez (31), Mauricio Dubón (10) and Martín Maldonado (15) all pitched in with moon shots, and Michael Brantley went four-for-five with a double and an RBI. Jose Abreu also collected multiple hits in the game. Kendall Graveman (5-6, 3.14) earned the win in relief of Framber Valdez, who struck out seven through four but also walked five and allowed three runs on five hits. Not his best stuff.
In action yesterday, the Diamondbacks topped the Chicago White Sox by a 3-0 score. The winning pitcher, Brandon Pfaadt (3-9, 5.72) pitched a gem, striking out eight, walking zero, giving up no runs and only five hits, coming one out short of a Quality Start. Paul Sewald (34, 3.12) struck out a pair in the final inning for the save. The DBacks scored all their runs in the third, on a Corbin Carroll two-run double and a Tommy Pham RBI-single.
Now onto tiebreaker talk....
In coin flip science, a sweep can happen about 25 percent of the time, with half each to each team. I find it interesting that either team can secure with a sweep. Houston could possibly advance to the two seed with a sweep, whereas Arizona would match Houston at 87-75. In that case, (if Seattle loses their series), Houston could conceivably rematch Arizona in the Fall Classic.
If Seattle sweeps the Rangers, and Houston wins two, all three teams will be tied with 89-73 records. The three-way tie’s primary tiebreaker is the record in common between all three teams. Houston is 13-13, and if Seattle sweeps the Rangers, Texas would be 12-14 and Seattle 13-13. Seattle of course holds the tiebreaker in head-to-head against Houston. So in this case, the Mariners are the AL West champs and Houston is the six or five seed depending on the Blue Jays. All of this, of course, is assuming that Toronto doesn’t also finish tied at 89-73.
Easily enough, the surest path for Houston to get in is to win every time they play. but there are paths to get in no matter how many times they win. That brings us to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Snakes are also in a dogfight for a wildcard position, but currently hold a huge two-game edge over both the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs for the second berth. That means Arizona needs one win to guarantee their spot. Even if they lose all three games, they’re still somewhat likely to get in as the five or six seed. That’s the thing I’m hoping for, as Arizona deserves a spot in the playoffs, but I don’t want them taking any of their wins from Houston.
Shorter explanations will do for the rest. If Seattle wins three, Houston needs two. If the two split, Houston needs one victory. If Texas wins three times or sweeps, the Astros are in no matter what. To go much much deeper into tiebreakers, read the MLB.COM’s tiebreaker article.
GameTimes and Starting Pitchers
Friday at 8:40 PM CT — JP France (11-6, 3.83) vs. Zac Gallen (17-8, 3.49)
Saturday at 7:10 PM CT — Justin Verlander (12-8, 3.32) vs. TBD
Sunday at 2:10 PM CT — TBD vs. TBD
.....and that’s it.
Time to find out what you think....
This is it! What do you think?
This poll is closed
Houston wins three times. Postseason assured
Houston wins twice. Postseason assured
Houston wins once. Postseason likely
Houston gets swept. Postseason chance less than 50 percent.