MLB Postseason Preview: Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros

MLB Postseason Preview: Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros

by October 7, 2021 0 comments

The Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox for the ALDS, which is the first of four Division Series set to kick off in the coming days.
For Houston, winning the AL Central represents their fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs. All four of those trips included the ALCS. Two included the World Series while one included a ring. Now, Houston looks to defend its status as one of the best teams in baseball by using its star-studded lineup to counter Chicago’s tremendous pitching. Kyle Tucker has arguably been the Astros’ best hitter, accruing a .917 OPS with 30 homers and 14 stolen bases. Meanwhile, Ryan Pressly emerged as one of the most reliable closers in all of baseball, giving Houston something to feel great about down the stretch.

While the White Sox are a strong team all around, pitching is what can make or break this team, which has two Cy Young candidates on the roster in Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon (left arm soreness). The team also bolstered its strong bullpen at the trade deadline, adding Craig Kimbrel to a group that already featured star closer Liam Hendriks. Don’t completely ignore the lineup, though. Yasmani Grandal had a great season, posting an incredible .420 OBP and 159 wRC+. Meanwhile, Luis Robert returned from injury and posted 21.9 oWAR while slugging 13 homers through 68 games.

The series will begin at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 4:07 p.m. on FS1. Lance McCullers, who went 13-5 in 2021, will toe the rubber for Houston. Opposite him is Lynn, the White Sox hurler who went 11-6 while co-anchoring the Chicago rotation alongside Rodon.

Games 1 and 2 will take place on back-to-back days in Houston. The teams then receive a day off for traveling to Chicago, where the next two games (or one, if a sweep occurs) are held. If necessary, a fifth and final game will take place back in Houston.

Three keys to victory for White Sox

Take an early series lead
The White Sox need to capitalize on the dominance of Lynn. Momentum is huge in the postseason, and the White Sox can gain just that in Game 1 by winning the pitching duel. In fact, falling behind 0-1 could be a death sentence for Chicago. With Carlos Rodon not a guarantee due to his left arm soreness, Lucas Giolito is tabbed for Game 2. He’s not a terrible option by any means, but the pure fact that the White Sox are missing their No. 2 starter emphasizes just how much they need to win Game 1.

Hope for Carlos Rodon’s health

There is a chance Carlos Rodon does not pitch until next Spring Training. Or, he could pitch in a few days. The White Sox continue to evaluate the southpaw’s health and will keep their fingers crossed over the next few hours as final roster decisions are made. His presence, after all, would be huge. The 28-year-old went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and commanding 0.96 WHIP this season. With Giolito throwing Game 2, a healthy Rodon could pitch Games 3, 4, or 5, all of which have the chance to be elimination games for either team.

Battle in the early and middle innings
It would be foolish to say a team can’t score on the Astros in late innings. However, the back half of Houston’s bullpen has looked very strong. Blake Taylor posted a 1.76 ERA in the seventh inning this season while Ryne Stanek accrued 21 holds. Further, closer Ryan Pressly went 26-for-28 in save opportunities, all while walking just 13 batters and striking out 81. If you’re trailing Houston in the later innings, you might as well begin preparing for the next game already.

Three keys to victory for Astros

Dominate the late innings
As mentioned, the White Sox can win by scoring in the early and middle innings. If they are unable to do so, the Astros’ bullpen needs to thrive where we know it can: the final third of the ballgame. Success in the later innings will help Houston close out close ballgames. At the same time, if the White Sox’ strong bullpen is shutting down the Astros’ batters, the Astros will have to counter back with strong outings from Taylor, Stanek, and Pressly.

Continue to get on base
The White Sox have the third-highest on-base percentage in all of baseball. What’s better than being third? How about first? That’s where the Astros ranked after their batters reached base in 33.9 percent of plate appearances. The team also limited strikeouts, ranking 29th in this category (and just four strikeouts away from the 30th-ranked Blue Jays).

Get big hits
This is far easier said than done, but the Astros can thrive if they consistently hit doubles and homers while scoring runs. They were successful in this realm this past season, ranking third in doubles (299), seventh in homers (221), and first in total runs (863). While the White Sox get the edge on the mound, the Astros can drastically bridge this gap with their bats.


Both of these teams are very good, and we are most likely headed for a five-game series. If Carlos Rodon were healthy, the White Sox would be better suited to thrive over a longer stretch of games. However, he doesn’t seem to be trending in the right direction, which is a major issue for the White Sox as they pursue shutting down the Astros’ phenomenal offense. In the end, Houston should pull away thanks to their offensive firepower.

Prediction: Astros 3, White Sox 2

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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