As of Tuesday night, the Red Sox have eliminated the Yankees, adding another chapter to that storied rivalry. With the Red Sox moving on, the ALDS (American League Divisional Series) is now set. The Red Sox will take on the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays after winning the wild card game. On the other side of the AL, the Houston Astros take on the Chicago White Sox. Four solid teams are entering the postseason, which will make for an entertaining ALDS. Let’s take a look at what to expect from this year’s ALDS.
Boston Red Sox Versus Tampa Bay Rays
Now that the Red Sox have eliminated the Yankees, they turn their attention to the one-seed Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa enters the ALDS as one of the best teams in the MLB, not just the AL. Tampa finished the regular season with 100 wins for the first time in franchise history. This is also the third year in a row that Tampa has made the playoffs, the longest in team history.
The Red Sox enter the ALDS in their first playoff/ALDS appearance since 2018. Boston has a history of playoff success, considering their last playoff appearance in 2018 ended with a World Series title. Boston is 6-5 overall when facing Tampa in the playoffs, so this time around could go either way.
Rays Biggest Keys To Victory
1.) Play Like A 100-Win Team– The Rays are the complete team. Look for Tampa to utilize their elite bullpen to slow down the Red Sox offense. However, Tampa can also beat anyone with their high-scoring offense. Boston will be in trouble if Tampa manages to get a lead of at least 3-4 runs.
2.) Bullpen Battle– The bullpen will either be the biggest help or the biggest killer for Tampa. Boston scored eight runs per game in their eight regular-season wins against Tampa. If the Rays can hold Bostons’ dynamic hitting to only a few runs and shut them down with their setup guys, it could lead to much-needed wins.
Red Sox Biggest Keys To Victory
1.) Bullpen Battle– Boston is nothing to take for granted at the plate, either. Three batters batting near .300 in the regular season and plenty of offense to go around. If Boston plays the way they did against the Yankees, Tampa is also in trouble.
2.) Road Victory A Must– Boston needs to steal a game in Tampa. While this might seem rather obvious, stealing a game on the road in only a five-game series can be huge, especially when you consider that Boston struggled when playing in St. Petersburg, going 3-7 in the regular season.
Houston Astros Versus Chicago White Sox
Here we have one of the more unique playoff matchups. The Astros and White Sox have only played each other one time in the playoffs. That lone playoff matchup in the 2005 World Series saw the White Sox sweep the Astros 4-0. Like I said, a unique matchup that features two very different versions of the franchises compared to 2005.
Chicago comes into the ALDS as AL Central champions for the first time since 2008 and in their second consecutive playoff appearance for the first time in team history. Chicago has not won a postseason series since 2005 either, so plenty to build on for this new era of White Sox baseball.
The Astros have their own storyline, both full of success and not-so-good things as well. The Astros last won a title in 2017 and are a threat to do so again in 2021. Nonetheless, Houston enters the ALDS off their fourth division title since 2017.
White Sox Biggest Keys To Victory
1.) Depth Will Be Key– The White Sox are blessed with serious depth at most of their fielding positions. This also allows for an array of lineup options throughout the series. With slugger Jose Abreu looking doubtful for game one, that depth will be critical if Chicago wants to compete.
2.) Bullpen/Rotation Needs To Dominate– Chicago is also blessed with one of the best rotations and bullpens in the MLB. With stud starters like Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodón, this bullpen and rotation could lead Chicago far into the postseason. Houston has a good offense, but Chicago can match it with their lights-out pitching.
Houston Astros Biggest Keys To Victory
1.) Bats Need To Come Alive– Houston features some elite performers in the playoffs in Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. These are just two names out of an entire lineup that can light up the scoreboard. If Houston wants to continue winning games, they need to score runs early and often to keep up in the series.
2.) Houston Pitchers Have To Survive– Houston’s pitching core is no group to look past though. They feature four pitchers throwing sub 3.5 ERA’s and two throw sub 3.0 ERA’s. If Houston can find a way to hang around via their pitching and put runs on the board, it could go well for the Astros.
–Red Sox versus Rays: Rays win series 3-2 in a huge game five
–Astros versus White Sox: White Sox win series 3-2 in yet another colossal game five
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