Here we are on the first day of the MLB playoffs where no team’s season is at risk of ending if they lose. This may give less immediate urgency to a game, but then again, any team would rather be 1-0 in a best-of-five series than 0-1 in that same series. Today’s home teams, the Astros and Rays, particularly do not want to be the one that goes 0-1 after a home game.
I have to confess that I don’t care very much about White Sox-Astros. The Astros just won it all in 2017 and then there was the whole cheating business that came out about that title-winning team. The White Sox last World Series was this century. It’s not a long enough drought to be interesting.
Longtime readers of this site may recall that I carry a personal grudge against the White Sox owing to then-Chicago slugger Ron Kittle swearing at my five-year-old self at a game in 1989. I have neither forgotten or forgiven. White Sox-Astros may not be Team Meteor for many other people, but for me, there is no good winner.
The schedule for today is as follows:
- White Sox at Astros, 4:07 Eastern, FS1
- Red Sox at Rays, 8:07 Eastern, FS1
Starting lineups for the earlier game:
- Tim Anderson - SS
- Yoán Moncada - 3B
- José Abreu - DH
- Yasmani Grandal - C
- Luis Robert - CF
- Eloy Jiménez - LF
- Gavin Sheets - 1B
- Adam Engel - RF
- Leury García - 2B
This is not a lineup where I look at it and have strong feelings about very many players. Perhaps if the Orioles saw the White Sox more than seven times a year, I would feel stronger. It is interesting to me that they do not have the 2019 #3 pick Andrew Vaughn in the starting lineup for their first postseason game, but then again, Vaughn only OPSed .610 against righty pitchers this year.
Pitching for the White Sox, at least to begin with, is Lance Lynn. Did I remember Lance Lynn was on the White Sox? No. He gave up six runs in four innings in one outing against the Astros this season.
- Jose Altuve - 2B
- Michael Brantley - LF
- Alex Bregman - 3B
- Yordan Alvarez - DH
- Yuli Gurriel - 1B
- Carlos Correa - SS
- Kyle Tucker - RF
- Jake Meyers - CF
- Martin Maldonado - C
As a team, Houston had the best batting average and on-base percentage of anybody in the American League. They also had the fourth-best ERA as a team. That is a good recipe for winning 95 games. By not having the best record in the AL, they might even get the “easier” ALDS match by not having to face the Red Sox or Rays.
Lance McCullers is the Game 1 starter for Houston. He’s fired off a career year in his age 27 season, with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts. That earned him a 136 ERA+, which is pretty good - even more impressive when you consider that he was able to do this despite leading MLB in walks issued (76 in 162.1 innings). Both Game 1 starting pitchers go by Lance. Isn’t that something?
McCullers faced the White Sox twice in 2021, allowing three runs in 13 innings. Not too shabby.