2023 ALCS Preview: Texas Rangers vs Houston Astros

Rangers SP Mad Max Scherzer has made a quick recovery and could be called upon to start Game 3 which would ultimately set up for a potential Game 7. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Wiley Singleton

ALDS Recap

The Rangers went into the ALDS in Baltimore as the underdogs like Tommy Carcetti. They faced off against the 101-win Baltimore Orioles. The O’s had not been swept all season. They were well rested and started their hard throwing ace, Kyle Bradish, in the opener. The Rangers had exhausted Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery in their sweep of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round. Jacob deGrom, Jon Gray, and Mad Max Scherzer were all injured. The Orioles lineup dominates righty pitchers. That left Skipper Bochy with a difficult decision. His starting pitching options were righty Dane Dunning, lefty Andrew Heaney, and lefty Martin Perez. The two lefties spent September in the bullpen after being demoted out of the starting rotation. Dunning has been perhaps the most underrated Ranger all season. He selflessly went to the bullpen at the beginning of the year and was elite. When Jake got hurt he stepped in and was incredibly consistent. He has gone from a coin flipping sinkerballer to a true pitcher. So who would Bochy start? Without Jake it was an incredibly interesting and pressing question. 

Bochy decided to open with flashy lefty Andrew Heaney, peppering the plethora of lefties in the Orioles lineup with a difficult matchup. After a mere 3.2 effective innings Bochy brought in starter Dane Dunning. This is where Bochy showed his brilliance: he opened with a lefty to nullify the lefty carries of the O’s offense; but then transitioned into his most reliable available starter. Using Dunning in this manner went against both roles he had this season: traditional starter and high leverage reliever. Dunning was used in an odd, hybrid role. A similar thing can be said of Heaney, who was neither a traditional starter nor an “opener.”

They combined for 5.2 IP. Will Smith, Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc all turned in scoreless efforts. Evan “The Little Savior” Carter started the scoring for the Rangers in the 4th. Jonah Heim drove him in during the subsequent AB to make it 2-0. Josh Jung added a solo shot in the 6th to make it 3-1 Rangers. The Rangers managed to hold on in this insanely important opener. Not only did they win, but they won off of pitching when they entered the game with no solid starter or bullpen. Bochy truly carried this game. Bochy’s brilliant maneuvering in Baltimore was akin to that of Terry D’agostino’s from The Wire. Win 3-2.

Game 2 – Jordan Montgomery started this game for the Rangers. He has been the Rangers best pitcher down the stretch. He did not have control of his breaking pitches this game. He gave up 4 ER in 4 IP. Thankfully Monty’s offense picked him up. The Rangers recaptured the lead in the bottom of the 2nd. The O’s led the entire ALDS for a mere half inning. Their lead lasted about as long as Ron DeSantis’. 

The Rangers rally began as many rallies do: a leadoff walk. The ice cold Nate Lowe drew this one and Josh Jung followed him with a single. The downfall of the Rangers in the regular season can be traced back to the injury to Josh Jung and Jonah Heim. They are both young stars that are essential to the Rangers success. The underappreciated Leody Taveras stroked a double to center after that to tie the game at two. Taveras was an offensive liability for years. He has finally developed that part of his game to go with his great defense. This is an underappreciated element of the Rangers 90 win season. After a Corey Seager walk, Mitch Garver and Adolis Garcia both singled. Jonah Heim singled to left to score Carter after The Little Savior’s fielder’s choice. The Rangers began the bottom of the 2nd up 5-2. The O’s would never lead the series again. After a shutdown inning from Monty the Rangers really began to pour it on, like Bill Rawls going after one of his subordinates. 

Leody Taveras, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, all walked against Bryan Baker. Baker was pulled for Jacob Webb. Webb immediately got to a 3 ball count. Mitch “Garvesauce” Garver sat fastball and let loose a thunderous swing. The ball was obviously gone from the jump like Officers Polk and Mahon from The Wire. The Rangers led 9-2 and chased the starter fast. This was their win condition going into the series: hammer teams early and often

Monty did not have his sharp stuff and was pulled after the 4th. Enter young lefty Cody Bradford. Bradford spent most of the season as the 6th starter. He was solid over the course of the year, certainly better than the likes of Ariel Jurado and Glenn Otto. Bradford threw 3.2 IP of scoreless ball. This was the turning point in the series. The Rangers barely won Game 1. They had a big lead with a faltering starter in Game 2. They had to put a rookie mop up man in to eat innings. The O’s vaunted attack came up soft when it mattered. This was the turning point of the series. The Rangers had their neck exposed to the O’s and Cody Bradford stood tall. By the time Bradford was pulled the Rangers had a 11-5 lead with 3 outs to go. Not even the Rangers bullpen could blow that lead, although they tried. Win 11-8.

Game 3 – The Rangers lethal offense ravaged Baltimore like Stringer Bell in the second inning again. Jung single, Semien double, Seager free pass, Garver two-run double, Adolis Garcia three-run homer. Not much was left of Baltimore after this, like the riots of 1968. Nathan Eovaldi took the lead and ran with it, like Marlo Stanfield. The old Red Sox ace posted 7 IP of one run ball. He lived up to his playoff warrior reputation. Nate hard carried the team through May after Jake went down. He hard carried the team through the ALDS when they had no Game 4 starter. Eovaldi is rapidly approaching Colby Lewis status in Rangers history. That is Frank Sobatka territory in Baltimore. The O’s season ended the same way The Wire did: with bald stooge David Simon refusing to finish the job. Simon notably tanked the final season of the show he created. The Baltimore native also stopped posting on his Twitter account after the O’s were down 0-2, hilariously citing the ending of the writers strike as his reason to go slinking back into the shadows. Simon got to watch a live reenactment of The Wire: Sh!tbirds getting tuned up: The Western Division Way. 

ALCS Preview

The Astros demolished the Twins to advance to the semi finals of the MLB playoff bracket. For the loser Twins, it was just a playoffs where they could finally say they were not eliminated by the Yankees. 

The Rangers and Astros have been rivals for years. Even when the Astros were in the NL they played each other. The Rangers dominated those matchups. The Rangers dominated the Astros when they came to the AL West tanking. The Rangers won the division in 2015 and 2016 when the Astros picks they tanked for finally developed. The Astros then used a duplicitous sign stealing system involving a camera, a monitor, and a trash can to steal a World Series. At the core of the scandal was veteran Carlos Beltran and video guy Antonio Padilla. Beltran was the veteran of the club who pushed for the video cheating system and silenced dissenting voices. 

“The Latin players really looked up to Beltran,” said Padilla in an interview with Smartline.

Padilla received a full playoff share ($450k) for setting up the camera cheating system. The playoff shares are voted on by the players. Padilla got 10x his annual salary for helping some of the lowest, most cowardly players in baseball history cheat. He enabled spineless rodents like Alex Bregman and George Springer to know what pitch was coming. Players like George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez got huge contracts off of the numbers they put up cheating. 

Although the most recent World Series victory for the Astros washes out the repugnant taste of cheating, the specter of the cheating scandal still looms large over the Astros. The average Astros fan is a bandwagoning stooge: unfamiliar with the days of the Killer B’s, much less the likes of J.R Richard and Charlie Kerfeld. The average Astros fan is a feckless rube, bandwagoning on an established product in the same way the mindless fans clamor for the Marvel Franchise. The Astros are led by Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Jose Altuve. Their star pitchers are Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. The Rangers are led by Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Josh Jung. Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi, and Mad Max Sherzer are their star pitchers. Mad Max is slated to pitch in a diminished capacity at some point during the series. Jon Gray was also added to the roster, although his injury is more severe and he always struggles when coming off of injury. Gray should be used as a mop up man. 

As it stands, Monty is set to start Game 1 against Justin Verlander. Game 2 is set to be Evoladi vs Valdez. If the brilliant Jacob deGrom was healthy, he would be the turning point of the series. As it stands, the Rangers will look to hammer the Astros with their offense and minimize the importance of the bullpen. Young star Evan Carter has been exceptional through the playoffs so far. The Rangers will look to hammer the Astros to make up for their entire six year peak earned off of cheating. 

The series will begin in Houston, an open sewer sometimes called “The New York City of the South.” The Rangers will attempt to wade through the sea of filth on their way to a pennant. It is their first season worth watching since 2016. The Rangers have an insane amount of pop in the lineup, but lack a solid bullpen.

The matchup is a morality play of sorts: The plucky young Texas Rangers taking on one of the most evil and duplicitous organizations in sports history. The Rangers will look to recapture the mantle of best AL West team. It is a title they have not competed for since 2016.

The Rangers will use their lethal offense to hammer the Astros in a total bloodbath of a series. It will go to all 7 games. Rangers win in 7.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
10/15 – @Astros – 7:15 p.m. – FOX
10/16 – @Astros – 3:37 p.m. – FOX/FS1
10/18 – vs Astros – 7:03 p.m. – FS1
10/19 – vs Astros – 7:03 p.m. – FS1
* 10/20 – vs Astros – 4:07 p.m. – FS1
* 10/22 – @Astros – 7:03 p.m. – FS1
* 10/23 – @Astros – 7:03 p.m. – FOX/FS1

*If necessary