On 10/3/21, I laid out what I thought the Astros ALDS roster should be and what I thought it will be here.
I promised some follow-up articles. In this follow-up essay, I will address how the Astros match up vs. the White Sox pitchers. Click here for the scouting report on the White Sox hitters.
First, let’s learn more about the White Sox pitching staff.
I have assumed based on research that Chicago will carry the first 12 pitchers listed on their ALDS roster and that Ruiz and Burr will be left off the roster. If this changes, I will fix this chart. There is some debate about Keuchel vs. Ruiz, but I believe LaRussa will want the option of starting Keuchel in Game 4.
The White Sox pitching staff is better than you probably realize. The biggest question it appears Chicago has is whether Rodon can pitch or not and if he can how long he can go. They have four quality SP that have all pitched deep into games at below a 3.92 ERA and have all delivered 4 or more WAR. For comparison, Lance McCullers’s 3.3 WAR is the max for the Astros. If Rodon cannot start that would most likely mean Keuchel would start which would be a huge advantage for the Astros. It’s possible the White Sox might turn to Lopez to start a theoretical Game 4 and use their bullpen more.
The Chicago bullpen is excellent especially after the acquisition of Kimbrel and Tepera. Kimbrel has pitched poorly for Chicago (5.09 ERA). The entire White Sox bullpen looks especially balanced with few weak spots. Even their left-handed relief pitchers do not suffer from the massive splits that Raley and Taylor have. Every pitcher appears to shut lefties down extremely well.
Because of the strength of the White Sox pitching the Astros need to be aggressive in matchups and avoid negative platoon splits. The table below shows the Astros overall OPS and the platoon split for each. Baker needs to be aggressive with the bottom of the order with PH that give the Astros the best opportunity for success.
I believe the Astros should use two different lineups depending on if the starter is LH or RH. See the table that follow.
As I wrote yesterday, Brantley has been brutal vs. LHP since May and especially horrendous in the last two months. He should not start vs. Rodon nor Keuchel. This is the lineup I would use vs. LHSP.
If the Astros could convince themselves to start Castro in game 2, I would. A lineup with Castro in it vs. RHP Giolito would be especially formidable. I do not expect that to happen. Assuming Brantley is physically OK this is the lineup I expect the Astros with deploy in Game 1 and 2. The Astros need Bregman to perform at his pre-2020 level. Overall, the strong and balanced Astros lineup is their biggest strength in the ALDS. This is the lineup I would use vs. RHSP.
All stats from fangraphs.com.