Astros: ALDS Starting Rotation Comparison
Who has the advantage in the ALDS series between the Astros and Indians when it comes to the starting rotation?
The Indians all but owned the Astros in 2017, but didn’t get a chance to battle them in the postseason since they were knocked out by the Yankees in the ALDS. As history will tell you, the Astros went on to win the World Series.
When 2018 rolled around the Astros were much more competitive against the Indians by winning the regular season series four games to three, and found a weakness in their “armor”, which was Cleveland’s bullpen. Both teams are similar though with plenty of fire power on the mound and multiple talented hitters in their respective lineups.
The Indians have won a weak AL Central three years in a row while the Astros have won back-to-back AL West titles for the first time. This season, the Astros overall faced tougher competition so a repeat was all but automatic. In terms of the starting rotations, the Astros’ staff led baseball with 102 quality starts. However, the Indians were not slacking with 87 quality starts, which was the third-highest total in the American League. The Indians have their a portion of their starting rotation locked in for Game 1 and Game 2.
Cleveland’s Starting Rotation:
Game 1: Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.89 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 4-2 win-loss record with a 3.54 ERA in eight appearances (all starts).
Game 2: Carlos Carrasco (17-10, 3.38 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 0-0 win-loss record with a 0.00 ERA in one appearance (one start).
Possible Game 3 starter: Mike Clevinger (13-8, 3.02 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 0-0 win-loss record with a 6.43 ERA in six appearances (zero starts).
The starter for Game 4 likely comes down to Trevor Bauer (expected to return before the playoffs), Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko, and Josh Tomlin. If healthy, Cleveland should go with Trevor Bauer, especially with his track record in 2018 and strikeout ability.
Houston’ Starting Rotation
Possible Game 1 starter: Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.52 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 11-6 win-loss record with a 3.07 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts).
Possible Game 2 starter: Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 1-2 win-loss record with a 3.94 ERA in three appearances (all starts).
Possible Game 3 starter: Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.74 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 4-2 win-loss record with a 3.24 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts).
Possible Game 4 starter: Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.13 ERA)
Career in the postseason: 2-2 win-loss recored with a 4.03 ERA in six appearances (five starts).
Note: Starting rotation yet to be announced as of Monday morning on October 1st.
Who has the advantage in the starting rotation?
The Astros likely have the advantage, despite the Indians having four 200+ strikeout pitchers on their staff. Houston will counter with a combination of Verlander, Cole, Keuchel, and hopefully a fully recovered Morton. Throughout the entire regular season, the Astros’ rotation has been considered one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. The same can be said of Cleveland at various points, but the Houston’s staff did maintain a 3.16 ERA and a 3.28 FIP compared to the Indians’ 3.39 ERA and 3.44 FIP.
Advantage: Houston Astros.
In my opinion, this is the Astros series to lose as they clearly are the better team, but the Indians aren’t going quietly into the night. With that being said, I have the Astros winning the series in four games. Stay tuned for the advantage breakdown between both teams respective lineups and bullpens.