Predictions and Keys to the Series
More than anything, the biggest key to this ALCS is whether the Astros bats will stay hot. They torched Oakland’s vaunted bullpen in the last series, and if they’re going to win this series, they’ll have to do the same. The offense cannot go quiet like it did for large portions of the regular season.
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How the Astros pitching holds up is going to be another important facet. The starting pitching, aside from Valdez, has been mediocre in the postseason. The bullpen has performed admirably, but there’s not enough depth there. Can the starters give Dusty Baker enough innings so the bullpen doesn’t get overtaxed?
For the Rays, their offense isn’t as potent as Houston’s but they do rely on the home run to a large degree. The Astros gave up a bunch of home runs in the division series, but most of them were of the solo variety. Tampa Bay is going to hit some home runs, so can the Houston pitching limit them to mostly solo shots as well?
These two teams faced each other last postseason, so they’re already somewhat familiar with each other. It’s a battle of heavyweights, and it’s sure to be an exciting and competitive ALCS. I would be surprised if it’s finished in fewer than six games.
In the end, the main question is whether the Houston bats can carry them to victory like they did in the last series. Correa and Co. have made their mark against whatever pitchers are thrown up against them. The Rays may slow them down some, but in the end, I think the deep lineup and championship pedigree makes the difference. PREDICTION: Astros in 7