The A’s and the Astros will kick off their ALDS matchup on Monday at 4:30 PM EST at Dodger Stadium. The series will follow the trend this year of division-rival matchups in this round of the playoffs, and these two teams are most definitely rivals. Oakland, who won the division in the regular season, and Houston, who came in second, have been fighting each other at the top of the AL West for the past few years now. This has created a rivalry between them, as many high-intensity games have been played between the two squads in that time.
Based on regular-season results and seeding, the A’s are the favorites on paper to take the series. They’ll also have most every fan across the league pulling for them, as it’s no question people are eager to see the downfall of the Astros. But as an A’s fan, I won’t get too confident. I see this as a very evenly-matched series. Both teams played much better at home in the regular season, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets the advantage in a neutral site. In my opinion, this will be Houston. This is mainly because of how the A’s pitching staff is basically built to pitch in their home park. A’s pitchers had a 2.89 ERA and 3.18 FIP at home in the pitcher-friendly coliseum this season, compared to a 4.77 ERA and 4.96 FIP away from it. That is a scary difference. And it’s pitching that will be the biggest factor for the A’s this series. Will our arms be able to limit runs in Dodger Stadium like we do at home? Our pitchers have to be able to keep us in games and give our lineup opportunities to go to work. So far the pitching matchups have only been determined for the first two games. They go: Bassitt versus McCullers in game one, and Manaea versus Valdez in game two. Bassitt and Manaea have both been scorching hot, so hopefully they can continue their success. It’s surprising that the Astros are holding off on Greinke until at-least the third game, but McCullers and Valdez are both solid arms who will present a tough task for any opposing lineup. I’m excited to see these two rivals clash in the most important series they’ve ever played against each-other, and determine once and for all who is the best in the West.
The 2020 Astros enter the ALDS having come off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the AL WIld Card Series. The 29-31 Astros struggled against their ALDS matchup during the regular season having gone 3-7 Vs. them in the season series. Despite this, the Astros did not lose a game against the Athletics at home this year albeit having only played 2 games.
The Astros look to keep up their pitching dominance seen in the Wild Card series against the Twins as they only gave up 2 runs in 18 innings of work. The pitching matchups for the first two games of the ALDS have been listed as, Game 1: Lance McCullers (3.93 ERA) Vs. Chris Bassit (2.29 ERA), and game 2: Framber Valdez (3.57 ERA) Vs. Sean Manaea (4.50 ERA). Lance McCullers has finished the year strong having not given up an earned run in his last 3 starts and posting a 1.53 ERA and 3.13 FIP in September. Framber has also been on fire recently sporting a 1.35 ERA and a 19/1 K/BB since September 15th as well as throwing 5 scoreless innings in game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series against the Twins.
Despite the excellent pitching the offense remains partially lackluster having scored 7 runs in 2 games but looking foolish at the plate against many of the twins pitchers. Kyle Tucker remains the X-factor for the Astros having 2 RBI singles in game 2 of the Wild Card Series. If Springer, Correa, Altuve and Bregman all hit decently and pitching remains in the same form then the series could easily belong to the Astros. As much as Astros fans and I wanted to face the White Sox I believe the Athletics are just as beatable.