The last two American League champions will meet in the ALDS starting today and this series promises to be a good one. The defending World Series champion Houston Astros will take on the team that came within outs of winning the World Series two years ago, the Cleveland Indians. Both teams feature good pitching, but shaky bullpens, along with batters that can bust a game open with one swing of the bat. What’s astonishing is that this series isn’t even the most anticipated, but we’ll get to that in a later post. Nonetheless, while you’re waiting for Red Sox-Yankees, these games should fill your baseball appetite as this could be one of the best ALDS series in a long time.

Series Schedule:

Game 1: @ Houston 10/5 at 2:05 pm EST on TBS

Game 2: @ Houston 10/6 at 4:37 pm EST on TBS

Game 3: @ Cleveland 10/8 at 1:30 pm EST on TBS

Game 4*: @ Cleveland 10/9 at 4:35 pm EST on TBS

Game 5*: @ Houston 10/11 at 4:07 pm EST on TBS

Series Preview:

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The Astros control home field for this series, but that really shouldn’t be a problem for an Indians team that went 42-39 on the road this season. However, Houston was an average 46-35 at home, while winning 57 games on the road. The tide could turn in this series very quickly is what I’m getting at here. Cleveland will send out AL Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber in Game 1, while Houston will send out their own Cy Young candidate in Justin Verlander to oppose Kluber. While both teams have very dynamic offenses, I would expect this first game to be a low scoring affair, especially with these two on the mound. Game 2 will feature Cleveland handing the ball to Carlos Carrasco, who is having a career year this year, while Houston will send their newest acquisition, Gerrit Cole to the mound. Again, two outstanding pitchers, but don’t look for these guys to go the same distance as Kluber and Verlander should. This game could very well decide the series, and it’ll come down to the bullpens. The pitchers aren’t the only thing to look out for in this series, as both teams feature stellar lineups. Cleveland will look for a big series from players like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and the newly acquired Josh Donaldson, while Houston will look to Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa to spark their lineup.

Series Prediction/MVP: Indians in 5; Jose Ramirez

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These teams played a total of 7 times this season, and the Astros won 4 of those; however, this was prior to the Indians trading for former MVP Josh Donaldson. I think the biggest problem with Houston is their bullpen is just so suspect at times, and if they can’t correct it before this series begins, I really don’t see them winning. Yes, I know they won 103 games, and yes I know they’re the defending World Series Champions, but how often do we see a World Series Champion repeat? Not very. While everyone has been clamoring about the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees winning 100 games, the Indians have been quietly dominating their division and were the first team to actually clinch a playoff spot. That being said, the catalyst of Cleveland is their all-star 2nd basemen, Jose Ramirez. Two years ago, during their magical run to the World Series, Ramirez was present, but nowhere near the star, he is today. Now, he’s easily the most feared hitter in the lineup and will get a good amount of MVP votes. This season, he’s batting .270 with 39 home runs and 30 stolen bases; if Mookie Betts wasn’t having the year he’s having, Ramirez would most likely win the MVP. The Indians also feature a much better bullpen than Houston, and I believe that will be Houston’s downfall. They can’t rely on Verlander, Cole, and Keuchel to throw complete games every game. In fact, only one of those pitchers threw over 200 innings this year; whereas Cleveland features 4 pitchers that threw over 200 innings this year in Kluber, Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger. All of these things just don’t favor Houston in my opinion, and ultimately, I think we’ll see Cleveland advancing from this series.

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