After a day of travel on Saturday, the two American League division series resume this Sunday at new locations.
Led by their dominant offense, the Houston Astros look to sweep the Chicago White Sox in Game 3, while the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox head to Fenway tied 1-1.
What are the keys to each series from here? What are the moments from Game 1 and 2 that we are still talking about? And who do we predict he’ll meet in the American League Championship Series (SCLA)? We asked some of our experts for their input on where things are and what will happen next.
How can the White Sox get back to their series with the Astros?
Buster Olney: The lineup is capable of putting up big, lopsided numbers for the White Sox, and right now, that’s what they need: other White Sox teaming up with Tim Anderson to crush hits. A big hit from Jose Abreu early in Game 3 would be the kind of starter they need.
Jesse Rogers: Tony La Russa said recently that he would never tell his club that he had to sweep a series, but that’s what his team needs to move forward. If he can delve into just one game, Game 3, the White Sox can do it again because Sunday’s contest is winnable. It’s his first playoff game at home since 2008, so there is pent-up energy between the fanbase and the White Sox can make young Astros starter Luis Garcia very uncomfortable. Chicago Game 3 starter Dylan Cease has stuff that rivals anyone in the American League, so there isn’t a huge drop in quality on the mound for the home team.
Joon Lee: Jesse hits the spot. The White Sox need a strong performance from Cease to help set the tone for a comeback. The numbers prove it. According to a 2017 investigation by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, the vast majority of comebacks from 2-0 deficits began with a dominant performance by their starters, with a combined 1.63 ERA among nine starters.
David Schoenfield: Coming home to where the White Sox finished 53-28 compared to 40-41 on the road will help, but I wonder if we’re seeing what many suspected: that the White Sox were sailing in a weak division. They were 10-16 against the other four American League playoff teams, including 2-5 against the Astros, so they are now 2-7 against Houston. One big clue: Who will La Russa trust outside of the bullpen, and most of all, will he trust Craig Kimbrel? The White Sox have a deep bullpen that had the second-highest strikeout rate in the majors, but Kimbrel has been Liam Hendriks’ top coach even though he’s struggled since coming from the Cubs and gave up those two big hits in Game 2. It looks like the White Sox need a dominant Kimbrel (and Hendriks) to get this series out.
Which team has the advantage now that the Red Sox and Rays are tied 1-1?
Olney: The first two games illuminated the problems Alex Cora has been grappling with in his rotation, with Chris Sale’s speed significantly low and bullpen depth under test. The Rays are the best and most talented team. However: Cora is excellent in a situation like this, finding solutions, finding heroes. Like Tanner Houck in Game 2. And his willingness to pull E-Rod and Come out quickly in the first two games is an indication that he could effectively use those two as starters, especially against a Tampa Bay lineup that crushes the Los Angeles. right-handed, and use the depth of your staff, which is predominantly right-handed. The Red Sox have a puncher’s chance to win this series.
Rogers: I started to think that the Rays still had the upper hand, then I remembered how good Nathan Eovaldi was in the American League wild card game at home. I say ride that wave for another good start and Boston takes the lead in the series.
Read: A slight advantage for the Rays. The depth of the team is so outstanding and I think it will shine through for the remainder of the series after Boston needed Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck for lengthy performances from the bullpen.
Schoenfield: The Rays but is close with Nate on the hill in Game 3 for the Red Sox. The Red Sox love to hit at Fenway, they had the best home OPS in the majors, and now they should feel confident facing the back half of the Tampa Bay bullpen after the explosion of Game 2. Drew Rasmussen has been impressive since He joined the Tampa Bay rotation with a 1.46 ERA in his last eight starts, but has also pitched as low as five innings, so Kevin Cash will still need at least four innings from his bullpen and his circle of confidence has probably shrunk. by some pitchers. The Red Sox, however, could be fighting in Game 4, it could be Eduardo Rodriguez on a short break, and then if there is a Game 5, will Alex Cora go back to Chris Sale? Ultimately, I still have more faith in the Rays’ bullpen than in Boston, and that gives them an advantage over these last three games.
What has surprised you the most so far?
Rogers: It’s hard to ignore that the White Sox starters were hit in Houston. Lance Lynn looked like anything but a Cy Young candidate, while Lucas Giolito allowed four runs in less than five innings, though two scored after he left the game. This was the strong point of the team throughout the season and it fell short in two starts in Houston. Lynn throwing 97% fastballs to the team that hits that type of pitch the best is still puzzling a few days later.
Olney: The Astros defense, though it shouldn’t be, finished second in the majors in defensive runs saved. But Carlos Correa has been excellent and so has Jose Altuve, squeezing the White Sox offense.
Read: Boston’s bullpen has held up better than expected through the first two games of the series. The Red Sox have had good performances from Tanner Houck, Ryan Brasier, Hansel Robles, Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes. If Boston wants to get out of the first round, the bullpen will prove crucial.
Schoenfield: Enrique Hernandez tied all-time postseason records with five hits and four extra-base hits in one game. I don’t think anyone had that on their playoff prediction list. In the big picture, we are learning that Boston’s offense has been underrated all season and is perhaps strong enough to lead this team to a title.
Can anyone stop this Astros offense?
Rogers: It’s going to be tough to win in Houston. They can be tamed on the road, but in Texas, teams will have to overcome them, especially when someone other than McCullers is on the mound.
Read: The White Sox pitching staff will need to take a quick turn to look more like they did during the regular season to stop the Astros’ potent offense.
Schoenfield: They led the majors in races for a reason. With Yordan Alvarez healthy again after missing last postseason and Kyle Tucker now a force, the Astros have more left-handed power than ever before, which is why the right-left balance is a huge key that makes this lineup so difficult to pick up. transit. It will take a Herculean performance to turn them off.
What is the SDLA’s best moment so far?
Olney: How about a collection of moments? Hernandez’s incredible Game 2, leading the return of the Red Sox. Five hits in six at-bats, 3 doubles, one home run. Part of the reason they wanted him last winter was because of his postseason experience, the accumulated toughness he has, and they got a great return on investment Friday night.
Rogers: I will be the 10,000th vote for Randy Arozarena stealing home plate with a LEFT batter at the plate. It was amazing.
Read: I also go with Arozarena. I don’t know if cowboy boots gave him superpowers, but these are the kinds of moments that make postseason baseball special.
Schoenfield: Please, steal from the plate? That is a memory for all time.
In four games, who are your SCLA picks?
Rogers: Houston is easy right now, for good reason. The Astros don’t have a weakness and have a 2-0 lead with Game 5 secured at home if necessary. Boston is showing Alex Cora’s resilience. Getting off and roaring for a wide win in Game 2 is a moment of momentum shift in the series. Boston rides the wave to SCLA.
Olney: I’ll stay with the Rays and the Astros. And the Rays are still the team to beat.
Read: I’ll take Houston and Tampa Bay. I think Houston will be able to get one of the next three games and the lack of depth from Boston’s pitching staff will finally come back to bite the Red Sox.
Schoenfield: I had Rays at five and Astros at four in my original picks, but I’m going to go to Rays at five and Astros at three. I see Luis Garcia throwing a gem for the Astros in Game 3 and those right-handed power relievers closing the door on Chicago’s heavy lineup.