Astros’ Fans Get To Know your ALDS Foe: the Chicago White Sox
Three Ways Houston wins the series
1. Crack Rodon and/or Hendriks
The White Sox have a handful of great pitchers, but the two pitchers I’m most concerned about are Carlos Rodon and Liam Hendriks.
Carlos Rodon was dominant against the Astros in his two starts — Houston only went 4-for-45 against him in those starts, with two of those hits coming from Abraham Toro.
Houston has not had a lot of success against Hendricks either. Since 2019 the Astros are 7-for-51 when facing Hendricks, with only one 1 home run, 1 double, and 16 SOs.
Rodon, despite missing some time due to arm fatigue, will likely start Game 2 for the White Sox and Hendricks is going to be deployed in the late innings of games. If Houston can break the trend against and crack either one (or both) of these pitchers, then series outcome really tilts towards Houston.
2. Postseason Experience Comes Through
The Astros competitive advantage in the playoffs is frankly their success and experience in the postseason. Jose Altuve is a career .306 hitter in the playoffs with a .945 OPS and 18 home runs. Carlos Correa is a career .270 hitter in the playoffs with a .880 OPS and 17 home runs. Alex Bregman has a career 356 average with a 1.203 OPS in his 16 career ALDS games. Since joining the Houston Astros Michael Brantley is hitting .311 for Houston in the playoffs. And if you exclude last year’s playoffs where he was clearly hurt, AL Batting Title winner Yuli Gurriel is a career .271 hitter in the playoffs.
This isn’t exactly breaking news for anyone – the Houston Astros have great postseason players. If these guys replicate similar production from prior playoff experiences, Houston should do just fine.
3. Avoid playing from behind
No duh, right? But it’s more-so the case when you play Chicago.
Statistically the White Sox are a really good front-running team. When they get a lead they hit better (.265 BA, .790 OPS) and they pitch better (1.08 WHIP). However, this Chicago team is a below average team when they’re behind in games (hit .238 BA, 1.21 WHIP).
While the White Sox and the Astros have very similar pitching stats in clutch situations, but there is a significant difference with clutch hitting. Chicago only hit .244 BA in high-leverage situations– the 32nd percentile in the league. Houston hits .261 BA in those same situations – 76 percentile.
When games are late and close (7th or later with team batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck) -The White Sox have a sOPS of 94 (OPS league average is 100) – the Astros have a 114 sOPS.
Clearly when you face a team with Liam Hendricks and Craig Kimbrel, you don’t want to be trailing late. But if the Astros can get into the 5th and 6th inning of games ahead or tied, the stats bear out that the Astros have performed better in high-leverage spots.
This should be a fantastic series. Let’s hope the Astros can play to the level that we all expect from them and churn out series victory.
After a loss on Friday, the Astros return to action on Saturday against the Oakland A’s at 6:10 p.m. Jake Odorizzi takes the mound against right-hander Paul Blackburn.