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The White Sox and Astros have selected their men to get the ball in game one and each chose their respective Lance.
Lance Lynn will toe the slab for the White Sox after proving for the better parts of six months he is in fact the ace of this staff. Lynn finished the season with an 11-6 record, with a 2.69 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 157 innings.
He did struggle a bit after the All-Star break — his ERA has been above 4.00 across his last nine starts in two-plus months. One of his worst outings of the season was when Houston swept Chicago in a four-game set — Lynn lasted just four innings in his outing, giving up six runs on eight hits with one walk in the loss.
That said this White Sox team will lean on him as one of the veterans with postseason experience. Lynn was a rookie on the 2011 Cardinals World Series team and has appeared in the postseason six times total.
Lance McCullers, no stranger to big games in the postseason in his own right, will counter for Houston. McCullers has appeared in 14 playoff games and started seven overall in the postseason, going 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 46.2 innings of work.
Not to mention he’s in the midst of a career year. McCulllers posted career bests in ERA (3.16), record (13-5) and strikeouts (185) to go with a 1.22 WHIP and leads the MLB in HR/9 innings percentage at .721.
Both of these teams have solid pitching staffs, but there’s no doubt each is here predominantly because of their offenses.
Let’s start with the Astros. Without any trash cans, Houston is first in the majors in runs scored (796), batting average (.267), on-base percentage (.339) and third in slugging percentage (.444).
For starters, the lineup is deep. It has five different players who drove in more than 80 runs, eight players who hit at least 12 home runs and 10 players with a WAR of 1.4 or better.
Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker (and now Yordan Alvarez) — the names are the same, they’ve been in the postseason before, so that’s what makes this team dangerous.
But don’t sleep on the White Sox. The White Sox ranked in the top 10 in on-base percentage (3rd), batting average (5th), runs (7th) and slugging percentage (10th).
Remarkably, despite generating so many runs, Chicago had just one player with more than 62 RBIs. Of course, that was Jose Abreu, who finished second in all of baseball with 117.
And don’t forget about the depth of this lineup: Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimnez and Leury Garcia. There’s plenty of pop there as well.
For X-factors in Game 1 of the postseason, we aren’t trying to find sneaky guys — these are the best of the best. Guys who will truly change the game.
For Chicago, nobody has been better in the second half than Robert. In 43 games he is hitting .350 with a 1.011 OPS, including 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. He had no problem against right-handed pitching this year, hitting .321 in 212 at-bats.
For Houston, somewhat quietly it’s been Tucker who has been the most productive player since the mid-summer classic. In 61 games, Tucker is hitting .327 with a 1.029 OPS, including 15 home runs and 43 RBIs He’s hitting .299 vs. right-handed pitching this year in .321 at-bats.
|Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros
|Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
|Wednesday, Oct. 5, 4:07 p.m. EST
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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