The Texas Rangers came into these playoffs and not much was expected, but they have proven everybody wrong and now stand just two wins away from a World Series appearance. The Astros are the defending champions but have not been able to cool the Rangers hot bats off. Will the Rangers continue to roll towards the World Series or will the Astros be able to turn things around in Texas?
Max Scherzer posted a 3.77 ERA this season with an adjusted 3.28 xERA, featuring an 8.5% barrel rate, average exit velocity of 88.5mph, a hard hit rate of 36.9% and 28% strikeout rate. Furthermore, he held onto a 33.7% ground-ball rate which could prove troubling against Yordan Alvarez.
The Rangers have also shown themselves reliable against right-handed pitchers this season. From August 1 to the end of the season, their righties earned 113 wRC+ and posted an OPS of.788, while their walk rate accounted for 10.2%, while the strikeout rate stood at 23.5%.
Since that point to now in the playoffs, they’ve amassed eight batters with an xwOBA above 320, even more impressively than Houston. Additionally, six Rangers players in playoff play are hitting above 100 wRC+, so their bottom of the order has hit significantly better.
The Rangers bullpen was below-average throughout this season, yet still competitive against what Houston can bring to bear at this stage of the playoffs. From August 1 through the regular season end, they had a 4.32 xFIP, while in playoff action, they posted a 2.01 ERA against 4.87 xFIPs.
Cristian Javier posted a 4.56 ERA and 4.48 xERA during this season, boasting a 9.4% barrel rate, average exit velocity of 89.1mph, 38.3% hard-hit rate, 26.1% groundball rate, which could potentially pose problems considering how powerful Rangers’ lineup is.
His strikeout rate decreased during the regular season to 23.1% and held onto an uncharacteristically high 9% walk rate that has yet to be explained. Furthermore, five walks were issued during his only playoff appearance this postseason.
The Astros battered righties from August 1 until the end of regular season play. Their righties had an outstanding 122 wRC+ and an OPS of.805, with an 18.5% strikeout rate versus a 9.1% walk rate—furthermore, seven batters, including playoff play, hit above a.320 xwOBA score during this stretch.
Only four batters on their playoff roster possess 100+ wRC+, forcing the bottom order to step up their game. That being said, they will likely get multiple opportunities to see a pitcher who has not pitched since September 16th.
Javier has issues with walks and while the Astros bullpen is better than the Rangers I look for the Rangers to jump Javier early in this game. Expect a high-scoring game that goes over the 9.5 runs. The Rangers win a high-scoring affair.
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