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Astros: ALDS preview, predictions, keys to the series

Aug 29, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Kyle Tucker (30) celebrates with teammates after the Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics in game two of a double header at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Kyle Tucker (30) celebrates with teammates after the Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics in game two of a double header at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 29, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) and designated hitter Michael Brantley (23) celebrate with right fielder Josh Reddick (22) after scoring runs during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics in game two of a double header at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) and designated hitter Michael Brantley (23) celebrate with right fielder Josh Reddick (22) after scoring runs during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics in game two of a double header at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

ALDS Prediction, Keys to the Series

As expected, this is going to be a hard-fought ALDS. I picked the Astros to lose in the Wild Card round so I considered doing so again just to avoid tempting fate, but I do believe Houston will emerge victorious this time if players step up and play to their potential.

The game plan has to be to score as many runs off the starting pitchers as possible. It’s going to be a tall task to beat Oakland’s bullpen, so the Astros will need to get a few runs off the starter and chase him from the game early. If they can make the A’s wear out their bullpen, that’ll help in the latter part of the series.

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On the pitching side, how many innings the starters can go will be key. Baker needs the starters to at least go six innings, as the Astros simply don’t have the bullpen depth to throw four or five innings of relief every game with there being no off days in between. You don’t want to have to throw Cy Sneed out there in a close game.

To make the offensive game plan work, the Houston hitters will need to get the job done early in the game. Springer, Altuve, Bregman and Gurriel struggled at the plate against the Twins, and the team simply can’t afford to have that many impact hitters going cold. They don’t all have to hit .750 with a couple of homers, but they need to get on base and then come up with timely hits, especially against Oakland’s softer starting rotation.

I think this series is going to be a back-and-forth affair, ultimately going to a winner-take-all fifth game. The A’s will try to avoid using Fiers, but when it comes down to Game Five, they’ll have no choice. The Astros will get their revenge by scoring a few runs off their archnemesis in Dodger Stadium and will advance to their fourth straight ALCS. PREDICTION: Astros in 5

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