The Houston Astros were finally able to clinch a spot in the 2023 postseason with their shutout win over Arizona last night, but they still have more work to do on the final day of the regular season. By the end of the day, the Astros could be division champs and the second seed on the AL side of the playoff bracket with a bye to falling all the way down to the sixth seed and having to play a road series in the wild card round.
To try and secure prime postseason positioning, the Astros are sending Cristian Javier to the mound against the Diamondbacks who will be throwing Kyle Nelson in their season finale. Notably, the Diamondbacks also secured a playoff spot last night, but their seeding will be determined by this game as well as how the Marlins do.
Houston Astros Playoff Scenarios
The number of playoff scenarios in play for the Astros today are dizzying to say the least. However, breaking them up into "what happens if the Astros win" and "what happens if the Astros lose" is probably the best way to to think about them.
If the Astros win today against Arizona, then the results of the Rangers and Blue Jays games become very important. If all three teams win, the Rangers win the AL West and Houston ends up as the sixth seed in the playoffs and will have to play Minnesota on the road in the wild card round. If just the Blue Jays lose, the Astros are the fifth seed. If just the Rangers lose or both the Blue Jays and Rangers lose, the Astros are AL West champs and will be the second seed with a bye in the first round.
Now if Houston loses today, there is no scenario where they can win the division anymore and they are locked into the sixth seed regardless of the results of the Rangers or Blue Jays games. Again, that would mean that they would take on the AL Central champion Twins on the road in the wild card round.
Astros vs. Diamondbacks Pitching Matchup
Houston at least has one of their best arms going today as Cristian Javier gets the start. While this hasn't been a banner season for Javier, he has shown glimpses of his usual self in September and the Diamondbacks haven't had much success against him in limited plate appearances.
Arizona has Kyle Nelson listed as their probable starter for the game which seems to indicate that the Diamondbacks could be throwing a bullpen game with Nelson as the opener. The lefty has not thrown more than two innings in any appearance this season and has posted a respectable 3.88 ERA in 67 appearances in 2023. Kyle Tucker is the only Astro who has faced him at all and that was just a single plate appearance.