A capsule look at the White Sox-Astros playoff series
A capsule look at the best-of-five American League Division Series between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Thursday, at Houston, 4:07 p.m. (FS1); Game 2, Friday, at Houston, 2:07 p.m. (MLB); Game 3, Sunday, at Chicago, 8:07 p.m. (FS1); x-Game 4, Monday, Oct. 11, at Chicago, TBD (FS1 or MLB); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Houston, TBD (FS1).
Season Series: Astros won 5-2.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Playoff Entry: AL Central champion.
Manager: Tony La Russa (first season of second stint with team).
Projected Rotation: RHP Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA, 176 Ks in 157 IP), RHP Lucas Giolito (11-9, 3.53, 201 Ks in 178 2/3 IP), RHP Dylan Cease (13-7, 3.91, 226 Ks in 165 2/3 IP), LHP Carlos Rodón (13-5, 2.37, 185 Ks in 132 2/3 IP).
Top Hitters: SS Tim Anderson (.309, 17 HRs, 61 RBIs, 94 runs, 18 SBs), 1B José Abreu (.261, 30, 117, .831 OPS), CF Luis Robert (.338, 13, 43, .946 OPS), C Yasmani Grandal (.240, 23, 62, .939 OPS).
Top Relievers: RHP Liam Hendriks (8-3, 2.54 ERA, 38/44 saves), RHP Craig Kimbrel (2-2, 5.09, 1 save with White Sox; 2-3, 0.49, 23/25 saves with Cubs), RHP Michael Kopech (4-3, 3.50, 103 Ks in 69 1/3 IP).
October Glance: The White Sox are making consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history. They were a wild card last year and lost to Oakland in the first round of the playoffs. ... They won the AL Central for the first time since 2008, finishing 13 games ahead of second-place Cleveland. It was the club’s first season with at least 90 wins since it went 90-72 in 2006. ... Chicago was swept in a four-game series at Houston in June but took two of three from the Astros at home in July. ... The White Sox swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series, when Houston was in the National League, in the only previous postseason matchup between the teams. ... Rodón set career bests for wins, strikeouts and ERA in a breakout performance for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft. He went 1-0 with a sparkling 0.64 ERA in two starts against Houston this year, striking out 18 in 14 innings. But the All-Star left-hander was hampered by arm trouble down the stretch, and it’s unclear what he’ll be able to provide in the playoffs. ... Kopech pitched multiple innings in five of his last eight relief appearances in the regular season, including three innings in each of his last two outings. He could be the first man out of the bullpen if Rodón or another starter falters. ... Robert was a force after he returned from a right hip injury. He batted .350 with 12 homers and 35 RBIs in his last 43 games. He also hit .308 (4 for 13) with a homer and two RBIs in last year’s playoff series against the A’s. ... Grandal is in the playoffs for the seventh straight year. The switch-hitting catcher has a .125 (11 for 88) batting average with five homers and 12 RBIs in 36 career postseason games with the White Sox, Brewers and Dodgers.
Playoff Entry: AL West champion.
Manager: Dusty Baker (second season).
Projected Rotation: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA, 185 Ks, MLB-high 76 walks), LHP Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14, 125 Ks), RHP Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30, 167 Ks as rookie), RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.21, 91 Ks).
Top Hitters: 1B Yuli Gurriel (AL-leading .319, 15 HRs, 81 RBIs), 2B Jose Altuve (.278, 31, 83), LF Michael Brantley (.311, 8, 47), SS Carlos Correa (.279, career-high 26, 92), DH Yordan Alvarez (.277, 33, 104), RF Kyle Tucker (.294, 30, 92, 37 doubles).
Top Relievers: RHP Ryan Pressly (5-3, 2.25 ERA, 26/28 saves), RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1, 3.13 in 23 games with Houston; 4-0, 0.82, 10 saves in 30 games with Seattle), RHP Ryne Stanek (3-5, 3.42, 2 saves), RHP Zack Greinke (11-6, 4.16 in 30 games, 29 starts).
October Glance: The Astros are in the playoffs for the fifth straight year and look to return to the World Series for the second time in three seasons. They won the AL West for the fourth time in five years after finishing second to Oakland during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. ... Houston had a tough stretch late in the season, losing five of six before bouncing back to win three of its final four games. ... Baker is the first manager to win division titles with five teams after also leading the Nationals, Reds, Cubs and Giants to crowns. This is his eighth division championship and 11th trip to the playoffs. ... Houston’s longest winning streak this season was 11 games from June 13-24. ... Led the majors with a .276 batting average, .339 OBP, 863 runs and 1,496 hits. ... Ranked second in the majors by striking out just 1,222 times. ... Pitching staff was fourth in the AL with a 3.76 ERA. ... 3B Alex Bregman returned Aug. 25 after missing more than two months with a quadriceps injury. He hit .270 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 91 games. ... Greinke, who returned from the injured list on the last day of the regular season, is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. The 37-year-old right-hander, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, threw 2 1/3 innings of relief Sunday in his first appearance out of the bullpen since 2007. ... Correa, a free agent this fall, had one of his best seasons and led all position players with 7.2 overall WAR. His 2.9 defensive WAR also ranked first.
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