Here we go! The final remaining teams in the American League will get together for the right to play in the World Series. The Tampa Bay Rays, winners of the American League East, will take on the Wild-Card representative Houston Astros. The Rays have series wins over the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, while Houston had no problem eliminating the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.
As were the American League Divisional Series, these games will be played within the “bubble.” This series will be played at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
- Game 1: Sunday, 7:37 pm ET, TBS
- Game 2: Monday, 4:07 pm ET, TBS
- Game 3: Tuesday, TBD, TBS
- Game 4: Wednesday, TBD, TBS
- Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, TBD, TBS
- Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, TBD, TBS
- Game 7 (if necessary): Saturday,, TBD, TBS
2020 Regular-Season Records
- Tampa Bay Rays 40-20
- Houston Astros 29-31
With 60 games being played in the regular season, and teams trying to stay as local as possible, these teams did not play each other in the regular season.
Houston Astros 2020 Stats
After a poor regular season with the bats, the Houston Astros have found their boomsticks! The Astros scored just 3.5 runs in the series against the Twins but came back with eight per game in the four-game series against Oakland.
Alex Bregman did not have a super regular season, but his postseason has seen him as one of the hottest hitters in MLB. He hit just .242 in the regular season, with six home runs and 22 runs batted in. Bregman is hitting .400 in the postseason. Jose Altuve was a pain in the side of Oakland as well, with three hits in Game 3 and scoring three runs in Game 4.
The Astros are led at the top of the lineup by future free agent George Springer. Dusty Baker obviously hopes to have the pending free agent back in 2021, but that’s one of the many questions surrounding this team whenever the postseason arrives.
The Houston Astros have completely revamped their pitching staff, with the exceptions of Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers got the Game 1 start for Houston and lasted just four innings. Greinke, the 36-year-old has been around for many years and does not seem to get fazed by big games. Expect Baker to have Greinke out there on at least two occasions during this series.
Out of the bullpen, if the Rays are trying to come back on Ryan Pressly, they are going to have a tough time doing so. Despite his rough outing on Oct. 8 against Oakland, he has been strong. In fact, he has been scored upon in just three out of his last 13 appearances.
Baker has experience in the postseason, and the offense that is tough to retire nearly every night is the intangible that matters most here. Outside of that, there likely is not a team with a bigger chip on its shoulder than the Houston Astros after the cheating scandal that sent nearly the entire baseball world against them.
Tampa Bay Rays 2020 Stats
The Rays scored 4.8 runs per game during the regular season, with a .238 batting average. The Rays were 14th in home runs with 80 on the season as well. Tampa Bay was great on the bases during the regular season, stealing 48 bases in 60 games. During the postseason, the Rays have scored right around 4.8 runs as well. In the series against the Yankees, they averaged 4.2.
The power supply for Tampa Bay comes from Brandon Lowe, who hit 14 home runs in the regular season. Randy Arozaerena has been on fire. The former Cardinals bench player has come in and finished with a 1.023 OPS in 2020. In the postseason, he has 12 hits in seven games played.
If you don’t allow runs, you are going to win a lot of games. The Rays allowed just 3.8 runs per game this season, which was the fourth-best average in all of Major League Baseball. The staff had a team ERA of 3.56. The Rays pitching, for the most part, has kept teams in the ballpark, allowing 70 home runs in 60 games, which was tied for 10th.
Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, and Blake Snell are a great 1-2-3 punch for the rotation in Tampa Bay. Those guys should get great opportunities to throw to the Houston batters in likely six out of the possible seven games. Nick Anderson has also been sensational for the Rays, as he actually leads the team with a 2.45 ERA.
The Rays are a gritty team with a lot of guys who are certainly not household names. Arozarena anchors the offense, and a guy named Manuel Margot has driven in the most runs. The game- and series-winning home run was hit by Mike Brosseau off Aroldis Chapman in Game 5.
Therefore, the Rays are not going to blow you away with boomsticks like the Astros throughout the lineup, but these guys are going to grind. Austin Meadows, a guy the Pittsburgh Pirates gave up on, is another guy in the middle of that order for the Rays. He started the scoring in Game 5 with a solo home run.
The pitching matchups for the ALCS are not set. The one known is Snell will start Game 1 for the Rays Look for both Dusty Baker of the Astros and Kevin Cash of the Rays to get their rotations set and announced sometime Saturday evening.
The Houston Astros are the underdog. Houston is listed at +140, which means any $10 bet would pay off $14.
The Tampa Bay Rays are a big favorite at -170. When you go to wager on the Rays, for every $100 you wager, $70 comes with your betting of Tampa Bay.
This is going to be a tough series. The Houston Astros have experience. Sure, their pitching staff may not, but those bats sure do. Can the Rays get the Astros out enough? After the big Friday night win by keeping the Yankees to just one run, the answer would appear to be yes. But, just keep looking at those experienced boomstick bats in the middle of the Houston order, and the Astros as an underdog could be the bet of the week.
Pick: Houston Astros