- Alex Bregman – Every time he steps up to the plate in the postseason, he seems to do something special. The name circulating around is “Breg-tober,” and with a potential MVP season behind him, look for A-Breg to once again shine when it matters most.
- Carlos Correa – Can the Astros shortstop stay healthy long enough to bolster an already monstrous lineup? Without Correa, the Astros did just fine in the regular season, but he still only adds more talent to the roster and not just with a bat, but on defense as well. He says he’s going to play on Friday and in the playoffs, but time will tell if he’s pulled once again.
- Roberto Osuna – The Astros closer had his struggles in the second half of the season, but seemingly turned it around in September. A team that dominates in nearly every area is only made scarier by a lock-down ninth inning hurler.
- Blake Snell – Can Snell finish his rehab in time to make a start? Or will he strictly be out of the bullpen? Even if he does make a start, will he technically be an opener? With his last three appearances lasting only a few innings, even if he starts, it might be a short outing. It might be wise to use their ace out of the pen if given a lead, but who steps up in his place to start?
- Charlie Morton – Coming back to face the Astros has to be bitter-sweet for CFM. He won’t start game one after starting the wild-card game for the Rays, but you can bet money he’ll start game three, which will be in Tampa. Can Morton channel his postseason magic one more time for his new team? And with the Astros knowing him so well, how will he stack up against them?
- The Astros, historically, have not handled the Rays well. They are 24-36 all-time vs Tampa including a 15-18 record at home and a 9-18 record at Tropicana field. They’ve gone 3-4 in the season series against them for the past three seasons. They haven’t won a season series against them since 2008.
- The Astros were the best home team in baseball with 60 wins this season. For a team with a home-field advantage, that is a very nice statistic to be at the top of.
- Justin Verlander is 10-4 all-time against the Rays with a 3.17 ERA
All the action starts on Friday afternoon at 1:05 pm at Minute Maid Park! Make sure to gather around your favorite watering hole or even go to the game if you can and watch the Astros begin their race for another World Series banner. There’s a lot of good teams in the hunt, and the Rays are no slouch. It should be a fun series and one that hopefully goes the good guys’ way!