With October fast approaching and home field advantage clinched throughout the American League playoffs, the Houston Astros can take all the time they need to prepare for postseason baseball. Whether it’s players getting some time to nurse nagging injuries, working on mechanics or perfecting a secondary pitch, the team has put themselves in an enviable position heading towards autumn baseball.
These are the teams the Houston Astros want to face in the playoffs
No matter who the Astros play it’s hard to imagine they won’t be favored to make it to their sixth straight ALCS, setting an American League record. That said there are certain teams that are more concerning to face than others.
The Astros are the best team in the American League. But as we’ve seen in two of the past three postseasons, a team can get hot at the right time and make an unbelievable run. The Astros team this year is stacked with pitching in both the rotation and the bullpen while the offense has been up and down.
Their defense has been solid all year from Yordan Alvarez’s surprising arm to Kyle Tucker’s casual home run robberies and Jeremy Pena fitting right in at shortstop filling in for Carlos Correa.
So which teams are most vulnerable to the Astros in a potential matchup and who could cause the team headaches and an early exit before the World Series?
We’ll start with the team the Astros most want to face in the playoffs.
Astros best playoff matchup No. 1 — Tampa Bay Rays
Record vs. Tampa Bay 2022 Regular Season: 5-1. Outscored opponent 22-11 in six games.
The Houston Astros, to put it bluntly, dominated the Rays this year. And with all those games coming at the end of the season that means they faced the team they most likely will see should they meet in the postseason. Unlike their other potential opponents such as the Seattle Mariners who the Astros faced before they acquired Luis Castillo, the Rays are going to be, to quote the late Dennis Green, who we thought they were.
Their two encounters included a sweep at Tropicana field where the Rays mustered a total of two runs in three games followed by winning a three game series two to one where the Rays only scored one run in two of the three games at Minute Maid Park.
The weaker an offensive team the better for the Astros as their pitching will most likely yield a maximum of two runs against an offensively deficient team, giving Houston the advantage of being able to win playing small ball with stolen bases and sacrifice flies.
The domination of the Rays this year, even if they get Tyler Glasnow back, would continue were the two teams to meet in the postseason as if you can only score more than one run once in the span of six games, you most likely aren’t going to win more than one game.
That’s the team the Astros want to face the most in the American League Playoffs.