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2023 ALCS Preview: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers

Houston Astros

(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston Astros
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

2023 ALCS Preview: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers

The Houston Astros find themselves in their seventh straight ALCS, proving once again the American League Runs through them. Their opponent, the Texas Rangers, hasn’t seen playoff success since 2016. These two battled it out all year, but who has what it takes to win this best of seven?

DateMatchupProbable StartersTimeT.V
10/15Rangers @ Astros Jordan Montgomery vs Justin Verlander 5:15Fox
10/16Rangers @ Astros Nathan Eovaldi vs Framber Valdez 1:37Fox/FS1
10/18Astros @ Rangers TBD vs TBD5:03FS1
10/19Astros @ Rangers TBD vs TBD5:03FS1
10/20Astros @ Rangers TBD vs TBD2:07FS1
10/22Rangers @ Astros TBD vs TBD5:03FS1
10/23Rangers @ Astros TBD vs TBD5:03Fox/FS1

Houston Astros

Overview

I feel like there isn’t too much more to say about the Astros at this point. This is now their seventh–yes seventh–straight ALCS appearance. It’s become almost as certain as death and taxes. No matter what happens during the regular season, the Astros will find themselves in the ALCS. It hasn’t been the usual domination we’ve seen from Houston in years past. But this team is still very dangerous.

The Good

As I’ve already alluded to, the Astros have been here many times before. If you don’t think that will have any effect on this series, then you must just now know baseball–pretty much everyone on this team has done it before and has experience pitching in big games.

Guys like Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander and Cristian Javier should give them a great three-man rotation that they can rely on. All three have plenty of playoff experience and delivering in big games. The pitching overall for the Astros has been great and should lead them to success.

Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker have tons of experience playing well when it’s needed most. This team is filled with veteran talent who can ensure the moment doesn’t get too big.

The bullpen while not quite as dominant as we’ve seen it, but it is still capable of holding it down late in games. Ryan Pressly is one of the best relief pitchers in baseball and only seems to get better when the lights are bright. Houston has the experience–it’s just a matter of using it to their benefit.

The Bad

There isn’t anything “bad” with this Astros team. They are a very complete team with no glaring holes, but the one thing I’ll say is that the pitching outside of the aforementioned trio can be a little shaky.

The Astros have been known in the past for having dominant rotations 1-5. They would have a fifth pitcher who could be a No. 2 for many other teams. This year, that’s not quite the case. They definitely have the talent at the top, but it’s not as well-rounded as I would like.

Especially with an offense as good as the Rangers, Valdez and Verlander can limit that offense. But outside of that, I could see the Rangers scoring a lot of runs and turning this into a slugfest. Again, there isn’t too much to hate with this Astros team, but the depth in terms of pitching could end up being a weakness.

Texas Rangers

Overview

For the first time since 2016, the Rangers find themselves amid a playoff run. It came after a legendary division race with Houston, forcing them to play in the wildcard. But then they got hot–really hot–and have kept it going this entire postseason. But can they keep it up long enough to dethrone the former champions?

The Good

The strength for the Rangers in this series to me will be the depth the Rangers have at starting pitchers. They have the top-end talent with Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi, but Dane Dunning and a returning Max Scherzer help round out the back end of this rotation.

It could be the difference against an Astros team that lacks that same depth down the rotation. If the Rangers can take advantage and score some runs in those games, they can make it even easier for these back-end arms.

The offense is amazing, but I don’t think it will be the difference in terms of the Rangers winning. This pitching all-around is going to have to bring their A-game and show off that superior depth. If that doesn’t happen, the Rangers will find themselves in trouble.

The Bad

One of the things that could be a disservice to the Rangers is the lack of playoff experience, at least relative to the Astros. It’s no secret that being there before and having experience is huge in a big playoff series. For some, the moment can become too big and cause guys to underperform and play well under expectations.

For a solid amount of these Rangers players, they haven’t seen or been a part of a deep playoff run: Adolis Garcia, Josh Jung and Jonah Heim, just to name a few. These are all guys who had amazing regular seasons but have never played in an ALCS before.

You can’t help but wonder if the lights will be too bright for some of them. This offense is obviously an elite unit but it can get cold at times. If that happens to some of these more inexperienced guys, they may not have the firepower in other places to make up for it.

Prediction

My head is really telling me to take the Astros here. I know it’s probably the smart decision given the history of the Astros, but I still for some reason want to pick the Rangers. They are red hot right now and certainly can catch the Astros by surprise. It’s gonna be a long and great series as these teams have seen plenty of each other during the year. But in the end, I think the Rangers just pull it out. Rangers in 6

***

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