Houston Astros Vs. Chicago White Sox
Despite Justin Verlander missing the entire season due to Tommy John surgery and George Springer leaving in free agency, the Astros won the AL West for the fourth time in five years. The 2017 World Series core of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, and Carlos Correa still remain. Joining them are emerging stars Kyle Tucker and Yordan Álvarez.
The 24-year old Tucker had a break-out year, hitting .294, with 30 homers, 92 RBIs, and an OPS of .917. Álvarez bust onto the scene in 2019 thanks to a terrific season, but the slugger missed the majority of 2020 due to undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees. Fully healthy, he picked up where he left off in 2019, finishing this season hitting .277, with 33 homers, 104 RBIs, and an OPS of .877.
Zach Greinke might not be what he once was, but the six-time All-Star still provides plenty of postseason experience for a young rotation. Behind him is Lance McCullers Jr. and Luís Garcia, with Kendall Graveman, Ryan Pressly, and Ryne Stanek holding down the bullpen.
Chicago was a tale of two teams. At home, they were lights out, going 53-28, but they were a measly 40-41 on the road. Keep in mind, the White Sox played in one of the two easiest divisions in baseball, allowing them to stack wins. That isn’t to say this will be a cakewalk for Houston.
Chicago battled numerous injuries all season long, but still found a way to win 93 games. The offense is loaded, with Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez, José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, and Yasmani Grandal at the front. Anderson has become the face of the franchise and understandably so. One of the most underrated players in the game, the spark plug had another excellent season hitting .309, with 17 homers, 61 RBIs, and an OPS of .806.
Their three-headed monster of Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rondon will be a tough matchup for anyone. Throw in Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease and the White Sox rotation has plenty of depth. Behind them is one of the best bullpens in baseball, led by Garrett Crochet, Michael Kopech, Liam Hendriks, and Craig Kimbrel.
Prediction: It has become unwise to bet against Houston in the playoffs. Trash cans or no trash cans, this offense will power them to their fifth straight ALCS appearance.