6. A rematch of ALDS vs. the Boston Red Sox
Coaching: Alex Cora vs. A.J Hinch
The Storyline: In a rematch of the ALDS, the Astros and Red Sox meet for the first time since that magical postseason run that all started with this exciting American League Division Series. This rivalry started a bit early as these two wrapped up a three games series in Boston as they were both setting up their postseason position. The Astros continued on to a 3-1 ALDS win. To add a plot twist, the Astros get to face their former bench coach, Alex Cora who was signed by the Red Sox as their new skipper. This is another exciting series as these two may meet again in the postseason and head-to-head wins count for much more at the end of the season.
5. Second Half Division rivalry vs. the Angels
When: Friday, July 20th – Sunday, July 22nd
Lineup: Astros bats vs. Shohei Ohtani
The Storyline: At this point of the season, we should have a good sample size of what highly coveted Shohei Ohtani has to offer. And the Astros get to take their high-powered offense and test him a little. This will be the 3rd season series and 9th, 10th and 11th games versus the Angels but will be a good measuring stick because it comes after a cross-country trip and a long All-Star Break in Washington D.C.
This series officially marks the start of the 2nd half of the season, and with 99 games in at this point, the separation ensues between contenders and pretenders. The Astros had a very comfortable division lead last season winning the West by 21 games. Although clear favorites to win the AL West again, division rivalries are always tough. Look for the Astros to start separating themselves in the second half.