Taking a look at the most likely ALCS opponents for the Astros
Death. Taxes. The Astros in the ALCS. Isn't that how the old saying goes?
With six straight trips to the ALCS under their belt, it's become an all but foregone conclusion that Houston will play for the American League pennant each season. We previously ranked their most likely World Series opponents, but now we will take a look at the most likely foes they'll have to take down for a third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic.
#4 Cleveland Guardians
The Cleveland Guardians have perennially been a group of scrappers built around an AL MVP candidate in José Ramírez and a lights-out pitching staff. Their manager, Terry Francona, is one of the most successful managers of all-time.
A couple of key off-season signings could help Cleveland progress from finding ways to push runs across to scoring in bunches. Josh Bell was their prized free agent signing, and should provide some much needed protection for Ramírez. Mike Zunino has a chance to regain his 2021 form after an injury-shortened 2022. He's only one-year removed from an All-Star nod and an .860 OPS. Once top prospect Bo Naylor comes up, Cleveland's offense should be night and day different from last season.
As always, they'll have no issues keeping runs off the board, with a deep rotation led by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie. Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak hold down the fort in what should be a dominant bullpen.
If Cleveland's signings pan out and they score enough runs, don't be surprised if they find themselves in an ALCS showdown with Houston.