Down 2-0 in the ALCS and already having blown homef ield advantage, tonight is a must-win for the Houston Astros.
Even with Framber Valdez imploding and only recording eight outs, the Astros have limited the vaunted Rangers lineup to only seven runs in the first two games. Pitching hasn't been the issue; offensive production from anybody not named Alvarez has.
Dusty Baker alluded to likely moving Kyle Tucker down in the order to try and generate some production out of the slumping slugger, and he followed through on his word. Reshuffling Kyle Tucker wasn't the only move Baker made. The Astros lineup in Game 3 is very different to what was sent out in Game 2.
With Cristian Javier on the bump, here is how the Astros will back up El Reptíl:
Houston Astros lineup for ALCS Game 3 (October 18, 2023)
Tucker has moved from third to sixth in the lineup, reminiscient of when Baker moved the injured Alex Bregman down in the lineup in the 2021 World Series.
Michael Brantley jumps up to second in the order tonight. Brantley has been superb this October, hitting .357 with a 1.081 OPS. He also has owned Max Scherzer throughout his career, batting .367 with three home runs and a 1.144 OPS against the returning Rangers starter.
After Chas McCormick admittedly killed two rallies by expanding the zone in Game 3, Dusty Baker made a switch in Center Field. Mauricio Dubón, named a Gold Glove finalist earlier today at second base, gets the start in the place of McCormick.
The Astros will look to jump a returning Scherzer early. Scherzer is making his first start since September 12th. The Astros memorably dominated Scherzer in his penultimate start on September 6th, tacking seven earned runs on him in only three innings.
He's likely on a pitch count tonight, and with three games in three days, the earlier the Astros can chase Scherzer and get to the Rangers bullpen, the better.