The American League Championship Series was always scheduled to begin on Sunday, October 15; you can come back and look. But since there was no Wild Card Series or Division Series that went all the way, it seems like the postseason went by very quickly.
Especially in the American League – which didn’t have a super-intense Phillies-Braves to get on everyone’s nerves – we didn’t necessarily have one of those drawn-out, all-good-heart jumps. yet an unusual series. We had great baseball. But we had none of those.
However, it looks like the ALCS will give us that. The matchup is irresistible: two fierce division rivals, in-state teams actively hostile to each other. One team has reached the last seven ALCS and is trying to win a second straight World Series; the other hasn’t reached the ALCS in 12 years and never won a World Series. We have young stars, gray vets and a cavalcade of unlikely heroes. And it all takes place in Texas. These two teams have been punching each other in the face for months – honestly years. They now have seven games to settle it once and for all. Here’s a look at the three main storylines in Game 1. Rangers at AstrosSeries 0:0 Jordan Montgomery vs. Justin Verlander 20.15. ET/7:15 CT,
Story #1: Do the Astros still have the Rangers’ number this year? The Rangers have spent the better part of the last decade watching the Astros achieve everything Texas has always wanted: a division title, multiple pennants, two World Series, the attention of the baseball world. (Though not all of that attention was positive.) The little brother vibe in this Silver Boot series was strong, and the Astros made it even stronger because of how much they owned the Rangers in 2023. They didn’t just win nine. 13 games into the season, but they beat the Rangers and swept them for the AL West division crown on the final day of the season, winning the season series. Every time the Rangers have tried to pull away this year, the Astros have stopped them. However, Texas looks better and more complete now than at any other time this season. The first game could be the first sign: Can the Rangers hold their own right away, or will the Astros and their roaring lineup continue the cycle?
Story #2: Can Justin Verlander slow down this Rangers offense? Seeing Justin Verlander on the mound in Game 1 of the Astros’ postseason series is something that feels right. (Seriously, he went to the Mets earlier this year, you’d never dream.) Verlander has been spectacular of late, pitching six innings in a Game 1 win over the Twins in the ALDS, giving up just one earned run. his last three starts, over 19 innings. Dusty Baker and the Astros also resisted the temptation to bring him as the shortstop for Game 4 of the series. This decision now seems doubly wise. * 4,276 wins, four WS titles: ALCS managerial matchup for the ages Basically, the Astros couldn’t have set it up any better; A 40-year-old never cares about an extra vacation. The only problem here is the Rangers’ offense, which upset all three of the Orioles’ starters in the ALDS. In every game, the Orioles trailed before they really got going. This Rangers offense obviously has stars in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, but the most impressive thing lately is how deep their lineup goes. Dealing with Evan Carter, Leody Taveras, Josh Jung or Mitch Garver is no longer fun.
Verlander has more postseason experience than anyone in this league or anyone playing this season, but he faces a lineup that is in its absolute prime right now. We’re used to seeing Verlander go deep in games in the postseason. But if he can go five innings against these guards, it has to feel like a win.
Story #3: How soon will the Astros reach the Rangers’ bullpen? While we won’t know for sure until the ALCS rosters are released Sunday morning, it looks like Texas could have Max Scherzer and/or Jon Gray, giving the Rangers the rotation they envisioned for themselves in the Trade. Deadline Jordan Montgomery has emerged as the team’s unlikely ace, Nathan Eovaldi was fantastic against the Orioles, and the return of Scherzer and Gray allows Dane Dunning and Andrew Heaney to be in the bullpen. And know that the Guardians need all the help they can get.
Almost every Astros path to victory revolves around the Rangers’ bullpen, and there’s no better time to boost that soft bottom than in Game 1. The Astros have a formidable offense, and Montgomery’s early departure could start to blow up the bullpen’s price. guards in the series with only two days off.
The Astros don’t fear anyone in the Texas bullpen, but they have a lot of respect for the keeper rotation. You don’t have to make eight runs from Montgomery; you want him out of the game in the fifth inning. Then the Houston fun can begin.