Its Big Thing To See
It seemed as if the world champion Houston Astros surprisingly flew under the radar as they also won a franchise record 103 ball games.
The American League Division Series are here, and contrary to popular belief there are actually two series in play beginning on Friday. The Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians are the Jan Brady of ALDS, especially given all the hype surrounding the Red Sox-Yankees series, but this a great, compelling matchup in its own right.
Run prevention is the name of the game for these two teams, and holy cow these two pitching staffs are ridiculous. The Astros are better at it than anyone else, with their 534 runs allowed 86 fewer runs than the next-best team (Dodgers). Houston allowed the fewest runs in baseball in the last three years.
Prior to 2018, only three teams in history had three pitchers with 200 strikeouts. This year the Astros did it, with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. But the Indians did them one better, becoming the first team ever with four pitchers with 200 strikeouts — Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger.
In other words, don’t expect openers in this series.
Alex Bregman had a breakout season for the Astros, with 51 doubles and 31 home runs in his second full season, and for the reigning MVP Jose Altuve his .316/.386/.451 actually counts as a down season for him; that’s how high his standard is set. Star shortstop Carlos Correa missed over six weeks with back soreness and still posted an above average year, including 15 home runs in 102 games.
The Indians have a pair of 80-extra base hit infielders in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, both of whom will probably finish in the top five in MVP voting. Lindor hit 38 home runs and 42 doubles all while playing excellent defense at shortstop. Ramirez at one point in August led the AL in both home runs and stolen bases, and ended with 39 homers and 34 steals, the first 30-30 year for Cleveland in a decade.
Four of these glorious infielders are 25 or younger, with Altuve the senior statesman of the group at 28. This series has the prime of these great players. Enjoy it.
These two teams were supposed to meet in 2017, with both winning over 100 games. Cleveland even had a 2-0 series lead in their ALDS against the Yankees before New York stormed back with three straight wins to eliminate the Indians.
That robbed us of an epic ALCS matchup, which we will have to now settle for in this year’s ALDS. This Indians didn’t win 22 straight games like in 2017, but are still a formidable bunch, especially with that pitching staff.
If Division Series could win an Emmy, the Indians-Astros series would get their statues during the un-televised, technical portion of the proceedings. With the Red Sox and Yankees taking up all of the prime time coverage, this series is relegated to earlier start times throughout the ALDS.
Here are the scheduled start times for the five-game series between the Indians and Astros:
Game 1: Friday, 2 p.m. ET
Game 2: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Game 3: Monday, 1:30 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.*
Game 5: Thursday, 4 p.m.*
But having these games on early give us all a reason to get distracted at work. What would you rather watch — Judge Joe Brown and General Hospital, or a fun series between two excellent baseball teams?
Baker Mayfield is the future for the Browns, but even with their relative success so far in the NFL season, Cleveland still hasn’t won a Sunday game since December 13, 2015. Sadly the Indians can’t quench that thirst in this series since Sunday is a travel day, but the Indians are the best thing going right now in Cleveland sports.
LeBron left for Los Angeles, so let’s make sure Cleveland has something, okay?
Only one ALDS has the defending World Series champions. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, so this is the only ALDS with flair.
So sit back and enjoy the Indians and Astros for the next week or so. After all it is the best AL Division Series going.
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