2019 ALDS Preview: Astros-Rays

2019 ALDS
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Houston Astros mascot waves the division title flag on the field after Houston clinches division title between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels on September, 22, 2019, at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX. (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 2019 ALDS matchup between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays is set. Houston finished with the most wins in Major League Baseball at 106. Tampa Bay is coming off a 5-1 American League Wild Card win over the Oakland Athletics. This series is sure to be an interesting one. The first game will take place at 1:07 central time from Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday.

Both teams have talented pitching staffs. For the Astros, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will lead the charge. As for the Rays, Charlie Morton and reigning Cy Young award winner Blake Snell are the strong go-to starter here. The ALDS will be a tough challenge for both teams. A chance at the ALCS and a potential World Series berth is on the line in this match-up.

2019 ALDS Preview: Houston Astros vs Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay utilized the long ball very well in Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Athletics. The Rays hit four home runs in the game. All five of their runs came via the long ball. That is something of note as this series starts. It will be interesting to see if the Rays are able to take advantage of Houston offensively and get the home runs going early in Game One to make a statement

Astros’ Pitching is Key

The Houston Astros have cruised all season long. Though they have dealt with injuries, the team finished strong and clinched the top record in the league. That also gave them home field advantage for the playoffs. As the first game on Friday nears, both the Astros and Rays are itching for a dominating win. 

Pitching is key for Houston. With a dominating starter in Justin Verlander, the Astros are set up for success in that category. He is followed in the rotation by fellow Cy Young award favorite Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke

The Rays have a formidable rotation as well, and they are countering with Tyler Glasnow in Game One. Glasnow spent several months on the injured list with a forearm strain, but he shows flashes of dominance when healthy. He will be followed by Snell and Morton.From an Astros perspective, the home field advantage is also key. Getting the first two games at home and then potentially Game Five will be a factor in this series.

The Rays made the World Series In 2008. That is the farthest they have been in the playoffs since then. Tampa Bay started the 2019 season on a hot streak, thanks in part to their pitching. Despite injuries and inconsistencies to that staff, they maintained enough wins to make the Wild Card. Now, they face the top-seeded Houston Astros. Whichever team wins will face either the Minnesota Twins or New York Yankees in the ALCS.

Big Series from Alex Bregman

A potential Astros-Yankees match-up is what a lot of baseball fans want. But, they have to defeat the Rays first. To do that, Houston will have to utilize their solid pitching and make their bats come alive. Shortstop/third baseman Alex Bregman finished 2019 as one of the favorites in the MVP discussion, and he could use a few home runs in this series after hitting 41 in the regular season.

If Houston is going to maintain their potent offensive production, which scored the third most runs in 2019, Bregman could be the factor. Having a monstrous series from the fan favorite would push Houston in favor of advancing. However, it takes a full team effort. They need to minimize Tampa Bay’s power ability. Limit the home runs and force the Rays into unwanted situations.

The Astros have been known lately to cause havoc for opposing teams in the playoffs. A few mishaps by Tampa Bay early and things could go downhill. That’s where Houston can take advantage of the Rays. To stay in sync, the Astros have to get consistency on offense and dominate defensively. Pitching will be key for Houston. With such a talented team, the World Series is the only ceiling for this team. It’s time to make another run and take it back.

Author’s Prediction

This 2019 ALDS series is going to definitely be one to keep an eye on. The surging Rays seek to pull off the miraculous upset. On the other side, the Astros look poised for another World Series run. Ultimately, Houston’s pitching will prove to be too much for Tampa Bay. The Astros will win the series 3-1 in four games and advance after Game Four in Tampa Bay.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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