Astros vs. A’s

Monday ALDS Game 1 previews: Astros vs. A’s and Yankees vs. Rays – 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on October 5, 2020

The best-of-5 two ALDS begin on Monday around the majors with AL West rivals Houston and Oakland meeting from Los Angeles and AL East rivals Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees squaring off from San Diego. Here’s a look at the pitching matchups.

How to Bet Astros vs. A’s and Yankees vs. Rays | Game 1

Astros-A’s probable pitchers | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Houston goes with Lance McCullers Jr. for the opener in a minor surprise over former AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. In his first season back from Tommy John surgery, McCullers finished with an ERA of 3.93 with 56 strikeouts in 55 innings (3-3 record). He didn’t allow an earned run and struck out 24 in 17 2/3 innings over his final three starts.

McCullers didn’t pitch in the Wild-Card sweep of Minnesota so he’s obviously very well-rested and in fact this will be his first postseason appearance since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, when he threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium. Houston won that game and its only title.

Too bad the Astros aren’t at home for this game if you are planning to back them as in his career McCullers is 20-7 in 44 career starts at home with a 2.51 ERA, which is nearly half his career road ERA (4.99). McCullers last faced the A’s at home on Aug. 29 and limited the Athletics to two runs — one earned — over six innings in the Astros’ 4-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader. McCullers had seven strikeouts and just one walk.

Oakland starts veteran right-hander Chris Bassitt, who was 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA this season. His ERA in the regular season ranked third among AL starters, and he went 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings in September.

He faced the White Sox in Game 2 of the Wild-Card round and allowed just one run over seven-plus innings as the A’s beat the White Sox 5-2 to send that series to a decisive Game 3. Bassitt took a shutout into the eighth, though he was lifted after Tim Anderson singled to start the inning. The White Sox pushed that run across with a two-run homer and threatened again in loading the bases off Liam Hendriks in the ninth, but the A’s escaped when Jake Diekman got Jose Abreu to ground out as the go-ahead run. That was Bassitt’s first career postseason outing.

Yankees-Rays probable pitchers | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

New York starts ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, he of the record $324 million free-agent contract this offseason. Cole made his Yankees postseason debut in AL Wild Card Series Game 1 of the Wild-Card round vs. Cleveland and struck out 13 batters to earn the win (7.0IP, 6H, 2ER, 0BB, 1HR, 1WP).

It was Cole’s third career postseason game with at least 12 strikeouts, the most by a pitcher in Major League history. He also recorded 15K in 2019 ALDS Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay and 12K in 2018 ALDS Game 2 vs. Cleveland (both with Houston). His 13K were the second-highest total by a Yankee in a postseason game, trailing only Roger Clemens’ 15K in 2000 ALCS Game 4 at Seattle.

This regular season, Tampa won two of three meetings when facing Cole, who was 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA. Tampa faced Cole twice in last year’s ALDS when Cole was with Houston. Cole went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 15.2 innings. His 25 strikeouts set a major-league record for a Division Series.

It’s lefty and 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell for Tampa. He was 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA this season. Snell struck out nine batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings as the Rays beat the Blue Jays 3-1 in last Tuesday’s Game 1 of the Wild Card series.

The nine strikeouts from Snell tied a Rays franchise record for a postseason start. He had his slider working throughout the evening and didn’t give up a hit until Alejandro Kirk’s leadoff single in the top of the sixth inning. There was a two-out walk to Randal Grichuk in the top of the first and a one-out walk to Teoscar Hernandez in the top of the fifth, but the Jays failed to really get anything going. In two starts against the Yankees this season, Snell went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and struck out eight over eight innings.

Expert picks

Astros 4, A’s 3; Yankees 5, Rays 2 
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