If there is ever a time for a team to go on a long winning streak, it’s the postseason, and after last night's win, the Texas Rangers have won six straight playoff games. With just one more game in Houston, the Rangers can take a 2-0 lead in the series before making the short trip back home if they can continue their winning ways this afternoon. We’ll preview the game before reviewing why I’ll be backing the Rangers to continue their early-inning dominance.
Over the past few seasons, baseball fans have grown accustomed to seeing the Astros in the ALCS, whether they like it or not. With their consistent trips deep into the playoffs, Justin Verlander has become a postseason staple. Last night marked Verlander’s 21st postseason appearance in an Astros uniform, and while he would work into the seventh inning and allow just four hard-hit balls, he’d still take the loss after allowing two earned runs.
Verlander’s stat line is one plenty of pitchers would take for a postseason outing, but at the end of the day, he was outdueled by Jordan Montgomery. In his fourth career playoff start, the big left-hander spun 6.1 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and five hits allowed. Montgomery would set social media ablaze with his dominance over Yordan Alvarez, holding the slugger out of the hit column for the first time this postseason.
Holding Alvarez quiet proved to be something the Astros lineup could not overcome. In the five playoff games they’ve played up to this point, Alvarez leads the team in hits, average, home runs, and OBP. Now, the Houston lineup hitting .243 this postseason after last night is tasked with facing Nathan Eovaldi, who has allowed two earned runs over 13.2 innings this postseason.
To counter Eovaldi, the Astros will send another starter to the mound with plenty of postseason experience in Framber Valdez. After an impressive postseason last year, Valdez opened this year's World Series hunt with a loss to the Twins, in which he allowed five earned runs over 4.1 innings. The adage of “short memory” is used a lot in the sports world, and Valdez will need to apply it today since he’ll toe the rubber against a Rangers lineup with a .819 OPS so far this postseason.
Through seven playoff games, the Texas Rangers have gone 6-0 SU on the F5 moneyline, and for my play, I’ll be backing them to cover it again today at (+100). In 13.2 innings this postseason, Nathan Eovaldi has a 1.06 FIP while registering at least 15 swings and misses in both of his starts.
The Rangers made it clear last night that they have a plan to attack Yordan Alvarez, and without his production, the Astros lineup could be in trouble. So far this postseason, only three Astros have an OPS above league average, one being Alvarez and the other being Micheal Brantley, who only has 11 at-bats. Being able to overcome that may be difficult tonight since out of the 35 balls that have been put into play against Eovaldi this postseason, only six of them were flyballs.
Meanwhile, in Valdez’s lone postseason start up to this point, he allowed seven hard-hit balls, which adds up since he’s in the 6th percentile in hard-hit percentage. Valdez also finished the season in the 43rd percentile in expected ERA and 37th percentile in expected batting average, which doesn’t mix well against a Rangers lineup that has all the momentum in the world at the moment.
Texas Rangers F5 (+100)