The Houston Astros clinched the American League West for the fourth time in five years on Thursday. They now have a magic number of one to clinch home-field advantage in the ALDS, which starts Thursday, Oct. 7.
The Chicago White Sox will be the ball club’s competitor, who will finish out their season with a three-game set against A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers. An Astros win this weekend against the Oakland A’s or a White Sox’s loss would help clinch home-field.
The Astros have clinched the AL West, but how does the Oakland series shake out?
The A’s roll into Houston with nothing to play for, as they were eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday. Oakland will be sending left-hander Sean Manaea to the hill on Friday and right-hander Paul Blackburn on Saturday, as their Sunday starter has not been announced.
The White Sox and the Astros both have 7:10 p.m. contests on Friday, so waiting out for Chicago to lose is not beneficial. The next turn in the rotation would be handing the ball off to Framber Valdez, who was told he was starting by manager Dusty Baker on Thursday night. Jake Odorizzi and Jose Urquidy will man Saturday and Sunday for the Astros.
Zack Greinke concluded his one rehab start on only 34 pitches through two innings of work. The right-hander punched out two and granted one hits in the process, as a quick outing of the bullpen this weekend could help evaluate his situation nearing the postseason.
Greinke is a candidate for the postseason bullpen, as he is unlikely to start another regular season game this season as well. The right-hander was on a pitch count of 40 heading into his start, which could likely mean he has some innings in him for this weekend.
Dusty Baker became the first manager in MLB history to win a division title with five different clubs, as the other four were with the Nationals, Reds, Cubs and Giants. This is Baker’s eighth division title and his 11th postseason birth.