The AL Road to the World Series
With the MLB playoffs upon us, we are going to be taking a look at the AL and breaking down the road to the World Series, which ends with our winner in the American League. Let’s highlight each series and take it all the way to the ship!
White Sox vs Astros
There is no shortage of action when it comes to the playoffs, and it starts with a banger here with this series. This is going to be one of the closest series, talent-wise, that we are going to see. There are a few things that stand out to me that are leading to my decision on who I am going to take in this series. To start things off, there is a level of “been there, done that” in this matchup. The Astros have a ton of guys that have been through a playoff run, while the White Sox are pretty green when it comes to postseason experience. Second, the White Sox Road splits were some of the biggest in the league. The White Sox actually finished below .500 on the road this season, finishing 40-41. The ALDS is a best of five series, and as the lower seed, that means the White Sox will be starting this series on the road. What is concerning is that not only did the Astros win this season’s series 5-2, but the White Sox lost all of the road games against Houston. These losses still came in games that were started by members of Chicago’s big three in Lynn, Rodon, and Giolito. The next thing that comes into play is that if you go down 0-2 and take this game home, and are able to extend it to game four, who is going to start? It has to be Dylan Cease, and that is anything but a sure thing. Cease allowed 10 runs in two starts against Houston this season. If Chicago is able to make it through all that, game five of this series would be back in Houston, and at that point, there would be the road woes to contend with and the decision to go with your five-spot guy or start one of your big three on short rest. There are too many obstacles here for the White Sox, and the Astros advance.
Red Sox vs Rays
The Red Sox were able to survive the do or die wild card round, but now they have to face the buzz saw that is the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa had its best season in franchise history, and their stats for the season are off the charts. The Rays had the best ERA in baseball, the second most runs scored in the majors, and five players hit over 20 home runs. Tampa took the season series 11-8. The Red Sox’s play, down the stretch had me concerned, and while they were able to get past the Yankees, make no mistake, the Rays are not the Yankees. There was a lot more attached to the wild card game than there will be to this series, advantage Rays. The health of JD Martinez is a great concern for the Red Sox as they are going to need all hands-on deck and if he is not able to go, that is a huge bat that will be lost. With a questionable bullpen, the Rays will always have a chance to get back into any game that they might be trailing in. The problem with the Red Sox is that when things start to unravel, they come in bunches. At the end of the season, when they were playing the Orioles, an easy win by all accounts, things began to spiral, and they ended up losing two of three against a 100-loss team. The Rays move on. Struggles will come in this series, and the Sox will not be able to overcome them.
Astros vs Rays
These two teams only met up for two series throughout the season, and it was the Astros who won the season’s series, 4-2. This series for me comes down to two things. One is home field advantage, which in this case will go to the Rays, so if it comes down to game seven, advantage Rays. Next is the path that each team will take to get to this series. None of these teams are going to be pushovers, but I definitely believe that the Astros are going to have a tougher, harder-fought series against the White Sox than the Rays will have against the Red Sox. Remember that this was a Rays team that went to the World Series last season, returned this season, and somehow came out even better despite losing multiple starting pitchers. Don’t forget either, because we’re going to see the matchup again. This Rays team beat the Astros team on their way to that World Series last season. The Rays will make it back to the World Series again this year as they take down Houston for the second season in a row.