Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Houston’s lineup has gotten hot at the right time. If not for an influx of runs scored by Oakland in Game 3 it would have been a clean sweep for the Astros. Carlos Correa batted .500 in the Division Series with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman had a resurgence batting .389 or better for the series against the Athletics. Michael Brantley was his usual self with a .368 average and 5 RBI. Kyle Tucker batted .412 with 0 strikeouts in his 17 at-bats. Their pitching will have to better. Namely starters Zack Greinke, Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers. Each of them gave up 4 runs in their starts. Framber Valdez has been their best starter. Cristian Javier and Enoli Paredes were outstanding in the bullpen and need to continue that trend.
The Rays pitching was their strength in the Division Series against the Yankees. Diego Castillo and Nick Anderson were stellar combining for 12 strikeouts in the series. Tyler Glasnow was good, especially in his 3 inning stint in Game 5. Charlie Morton had the best start for the Rays going 5 innings allowing 2 runs with one earned. Blake Snell will have to be better in the ALCS. Timely hitting is the best way to describe the Rays lineup. Mike Brosseau hit the go-ahead home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 5. That was only his second hit of the series in 5 at-bats. Randy Arozarena kept his hot streak going with 3 solo home runs and a .421 batting average. Austin Meadows added two home runs of his own and if Kevin Kiermaier gets going with Meadows this could be a big boost for the Rays.
Rays in 7 games
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Braves would not be in this position if it had not been for their pitching staff. Yet, if Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t playing at this high of a level the lineup would be suffering. His .600 AVG 2 HR 7 RBI Division Series stat line was unreal. Not to mention calling pitches for the pitching staff. Dansby Swanson added support with a .400 batting average and 5 RBI. Freddie Freeman was kept in check, but don’t expect that to last. Marcell Ozuna has been a difference maker in the middle of the lineup and will help them against the Dodgers. Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright both pitched shutouts in their starts against Miami. Max Fried got rocked a bit, but didn’t get a loss. Those three have been great and the bullpen has been even better. Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Will Smith can close on any given day. A huge advantage for Atlanta.
Questions began to be asked about Kenley Jansen after giving up 2 runs in his two appearances in the Division Series. Thankfully for LA they do have depth in their bullpen, but if Jansen isn’t right that is a problem going forward. Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen have been great and can close if need be. Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Dustin May have been the go-to guys for the rotation. Julio Urias is a secret weapon who struck out 6 in his lone appearance in the Division Series. The Dodgers lineup exploded with constant run production against San Diego. Will Smith had a .445 average. Cody Bellinger aside from an amazing catch in Game 2, drove in 5 runs with a .333 average. Corey Seager and Mookie Betts batted .364 and .333 respectively. Their true test will come against a better pitching staff in Atlanta.
Braves in 7 games