After two games in Houston, the first ever one-state ALCS is heading North to Arlington, and surprisingly enough, the Texas Rangers are taking a 2-0 lead back home. The Houston Astros are the most successful postseason team of the current era, but they’re on the ropes after blowing their home field advantage, and they’ll really be in trouble if they lose again in game three. Let’s take a look at the odds for Rangers vs Astros, where my prediction is an Astros win.
Astros Vs. Rangers Prediction
It’s really hard to overstate the difference between 3-0 and 2-1 in a best of seven series. The latter is a challenge, a hill to climb so to speak, while the former is a mountain, one that has been summited only once in MLB history, almost two decades ago. If the Astros are able to take game three, they’re only a win away from levelling things up and reclaiming their home advantage, but conversely, a loss would give the Rangers four chances to win a single game, two of which would be at home.
But in a shocking twist, that’s exactly where we are; a near make-or-break spot for the team that has dominated the American League for nearly a decade, against a team from their own division that hasn’t seen playoff success in over a decade. Let’s give the Rangers all the credit in the World; they got to Justin Verlander early and pulled off an incredibly impressive and important shutout in game one, while the bats woke up early again to bury Framber Valdez in game two. It’s a massive accomplishment already for such an upstart bunch, but it will be all but forgotten if they’re unable to do their job at home and win two of the next three games.
This time, the Rangers themselves will be throwing a legendary postseason performer. Once again, after receiving a cortisone shot before game seven of the 2019 World Series- to throw against the Houston Astros- Max Scherzer is defying father time and his own body, and willing himself to pitch for the first time since September 12th. It’s an incredibly quick recovery timeline for a shoulder issue, so we’ll see just how ready Scherzer is, and even if he looks good, how long he’s allowed to stay in the game. It’s quite the gamble at age 39; if Scherzer is wrong and he’s not really ready to go, this could be the end of an incredible career, but knowing Mad Max, it’s perhaps even more likely to become another iconic playoff moment.
That being said, between the uncertainty around Scherzer and frankly, Houston’s track record to this point, we have to back the Astros in this one after getting burned in the first couple of games. It’s almost impossible to imagine them on the brink of being swept, and after a pair of great starts to end the regular season and kick off the playoffs, Cristian Javier is looking to be back to his best. He’ll be on the mound for this one, and should outlast Scherzer, barring something unpredictable on either side, a major factor considering the weakness of the Rangers’ bullpen.
Astros Vs. Rangers Prediction: Astros ML (+110)
Astros Vs. Rangers Odds
HOU @ TEX
Oct. 18, 7:03 PM
Odds updated October 18th, 2023, at 10:09 pm
The Astros are +110 underdogs on the moneyline and have -175 odds to cover a spread of +1.5, with the Rangers at +145 and -130 on the other side of each of those lines. The total is set at 9 runs, with -110 odds on either side.
Astros Vs. Rangers Key Matchups
Scherzer will be squaring off against a very seasoned Astros lineup in his return from injury, while Javier will be tasked with limiting Texas’s red-hot offense.
Max Scherzer Vs. Astros Power Hitters
This trend settled down a bit after his trade to Texas, but Mad Max has struggled a bit to keep the ball in the yard this season. That’s not exactly what you want to see against this Houston team, which has already smacked 13 homers this postseason despite enjoying a first-round bye and dispatching the Twins in a four-game series. In the regular season, they were also a prolific bunch with 222 homers, the seventh most in the majors.
Yordan Álvarez is unquestionably the team’s biggest power threat, with six homers in six playoff games after smacking a team-high 31 in the regular season despite missing nearly 50 games. Kyle Tucker hit 29 of his own while Alex Bregman chipped in with 25, while former AL MVP José Abreu struggled throughout the season but is heating up in the playoffs with three homers already. Despite the undeniable greatness of Scherzer, this lineup’s power ability is a major reason why I have the Astros winning in my Astros vs. Rangers prediction.
Cristian Javier Vs. Rangers Walk Artists
Even when Javier has been at his best, he’s had a walk issue to some degree, and this year was no exception as his walk rate was once again worse than league average. He’ll be facing a Rangers offense that walked a total of 599 times in the regular season, the league’s third best total, en route to an on base percentage of .337, also the third best mark in the majors.
Superstar shortstop Corey Seager has already walked 11 times in just 34 plate appearances across seven postseason games so far. The regular season walks leader for Texas, due in part to Seager missing some time, was Nathaniel Lowe, who to be fair, did walk at a higher rate than Seager. He accumulated 93 free passes, and Marcus Semien was right behind with 72 of his own. Slugging outfielder Adolis García racked up 57, while Robbie Grossman had 57 in even fewer games than Seager, but he’s in and out of the lineup.
Astros Vs. Rangers Starting Lineups
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve R
3B Alex Bregman R
DH Yordan Álvarez L
RF Kyle Tucker L
1B Jose Abreu R
LF Michael Brantley L
LF Chas McCormick R
SS Jeremy Pena R
C Martin Maldonado R
Rangers Starting Lineup
2B Marcus Semien R
SS Corey Seager L
DH Mitch Garver R
RF Adolis Garcia R
LF Evan Carter L
C Jonah Heim S
1B Nate Lowe L
3B Josh Jung R
CF Leody Taveras S