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MLB Postseason: ALDS Preview

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Indians, Astros, Red Sox, Yankees

After the Yankees defeated the Twins in Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game, they joined the other three teams listed above in advancing to the American League Division Series. This year’s field includes teams loaded with young talent, whether that is on the mound or at the plate. With so many questions heading into this week, only one thing is for certain: there will likely need to be more than three games played in each of these best-of-five series. Here is a brief preview of both matchups of the 2017 ALDS presented by FlurrySports. (Full ALDS schedule below. All records and stats updated through 10/4/2017)

Astros (Seed: 2)(101-61) vs. Red Sox (3)(93-69)

Boston will travel to Houston for Game 1 of this series Thursday. These two teams met six times during the regular season, splitting the season series at three games apiece. Interestingly enough, both clubs took two out of three games from each other on the road. It would appear that these teams are evenly matched.

Pitching

It goes without saying that this game will feature a marquee matchup at starting pitcher. Boston will trot out Chris Sale (17-8 2.90 ERA 308 K) who is a leading AL Cy Young candidate in his first season with Boston. On the flip-side, Houston is starting Justin Verlander (15-8 3.36 ERA 219 K), a former MVP and Cy Young Award-winner who was acquired via trade at the deadline from Detroit. It’s hard to say who has the edge in this matchup. While Sale is having an objectively better season, Verlander is far more experienced in the postseason. While Houston’s rotation has a few more impressive names, the Red Sox have had the better overall staff this season. Compare the Red Sox’s 3.70 team ERA (4th in MLB) to the Astros’ 4.12 team ERA (11th in MLB) and you can clearly see Boston’s staff has been more dominant.

At the Plate

The matchup at the plate is a different story. The Astros led the MLB in runs scored (896) and team batting average (0.282) this season, as well as finishing with the second most homeruns hit (238). The Red Sox land at 10th in the MLB in runs scored (785) and 13th in team batting average (0.258), but their lineup has lacked in the power department, hitting only 168 homeruns this season, good for the fourth-lowest total in the majors. Boston does have an edge over Houston in the stolen base department, swiping 106 stolen bases in 2017 (6th in MLB). Houston allowed the highest stolen base percentage in the majors this season (0.879), something Boston can exploit if they get their speedier runners on.

This series will, no doubt, be a good one.

Indians (1)(102-60) vs. Yankees (4)(91-71)

The Yankees, fresh off of their Wild Card win on Tuesday night, will travel to Cleveland Thursday night to take on the Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS. These two teams faced each other seven times in 2017 with Cleveland winning five of those seven games.

The Pitching

Sonny Gray (10-12 3.55 ERA 153 K) will get the start for New York, Gray being New York’s trade deadline acquisition from the Oakland Athletics. The Indians have announced that they will start Trevor Bauer (17-9 4.19 ERA 196 K) in Thursday night’s game. While this isn’t the most exciting pitching matchup we’ll see this week, both teams have unbelievably deep pitching staffs. Cleveland’s team ERA (3.30) was the best in the majors this season, and New York’s team ERA (3.72) rounded out the top five. Regardless of what each team’s starters do, they both know they can rely on their bullpen to keep games within reach. This was put on full display Tuesday night as the Yankee bullpen pitched 8 2/3 innings and allowed only one run, securing a victory.

At the Plate

On offense, both teams finished in the top ten in the MLB in scoring offense and team batting average. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Yankees finished the season first in the MLB in homeruns hit with 241. The Indians, while boasting a few power bats of their own, only finished 15th in the majors in homeruns hit with 212. The Yankees, however, are more susceptible to striking out (1,386, 12th most in MLB) a wrinkle that Cleveland can certainly exploit, while the Indians struck out the second fewest times in the majors this season.

The Indians are the defending American League Champions and are definitely favored to return to the Fall Classic. Don’t be surprised, though, if the Yankees pull off an upset in this best-of-five series.

 Full ALDS Schedule

DATE SERIES
THURSDAY, OCT. 5 Red Sox at Astros, Game 1, 4 p.m. ET, MLBN
THURSDAY, OCT. 5 Yankees at Indians, Game 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1
FRIDAY, OCT. 6 Red Sox at Astros, Game 2, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
FRIDAY, OCT. 6 Yankees at Indians, Game 2, 5 p.m. ET, MLBN
SUNDAY, OCT. 8 Astros at Red Sox, Game 3, 2:30 p.m. ET, FS1
SUNDAY, OCT. 8 Indians at Yankees, Game 3, 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1
MONDAY, OCT. 9 Astros at Red Sox, Game 4*, FS1
MONDAY, OCT. 9 Indians at Yankees, Game 4*, FS1
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 11 Red Sox at Astros, Game 5*, FS1
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 11 Yankees at Indians, Game 5*, FS1

*If necessary

Other Links:

This Week’s Power Rankings (10/3/2017)

MLB Playoff Schedule

AL Wild Card Game Recap

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