4 things that went horribly wrong for the Astros that cost them the ALCS

There is no shortage of places to point fingers at after the Astros' brutal ALCS loss to the Rangers.
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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The bottom of the Astros' lineup were free outs in the ALCS

Roster depth is very often king in the postseason. While we mostly think of pitching depth being particularly important given how much a deep rotation and bullpen can impact the outcome of a series, lineup depth matters a lot as well and the bottom of the Astros' lineup was a legitimate problem in the ALCS.

Aside from Kyle Tucker's aforementioned postseason struggles and Michael Brantley not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, Houston's #8 and #9 hitters, Jeremy Pena and Martin Maldonado, were pretty terrible in the ALCS. Pena, who was fantastic during the 2022 postseason, had just four singles in the ALCS while Maldonado recorded just a pair of hits while getting the lion's share of the playing time at catcher.

Especially in playoff games, opposing teams are going to be very attentive to areas of the lineup where they can use lesser relievers and still get easy outs and in the ALCS, that was Pena/Maldonado which made game-planning against Houston just that much easier for the Rangers. The Astros were also particularly stubborn about Maldonado as they have Yainer Diaz on the roster who is far and away the superior hitter (and defender at this point), but they still kept running Maldy's ghost out there in big spots.

No team is going to have studs from top to bottom in their lineup, but the Astros definitely needed more from these guys to be able to give them the best chance to succeed.