For the first time since the 2011 NLCS between the Cardinals and Brewers, a League Championship Series will feature two division rivals. The Rangers and Astros are set to face each other in the 2023 ALCS, the first time the Lone Star State rivalry will take place in the MLB postseason. Here’s our preview of the ALCS between the Rangers and Astros.
Related: 2023 MLB Season Recap: Chicago Cubs
Probable Starters and Start Times
- Game 1: Jordan Montgomery vs. Justin Verlander (10/15 at 8:15 PM ET)
- Game 2: Nathan Eovaldi vs. TBA (10/16 at 4:37 PM ET)
- Game 3: TBA vs. TBA (10/18 at 8:03 PM ET)
- Game 4: TBA vs. TBA (10/19 at 8:03 PM ET)
- Game 5: TBA vs. TBA (10/20 at 5:07 PM ET)
- Game 6: TBA vs. TBA (10/22 at 8:03 PM ET)
- Game 7: TBA vs. TBA (10/23 at 8:03 PM ET)
- Rangers: +120
- Astros: -140
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. As of October 14, 2023.
A Look at the Offenses
Texas took down the Rays with relative ease in the AL Wild Card and handled the O’s in roughly the same fashion. The Rangers scored 21 runs across three ALDS games and saw Corey Seager, Evan Carter, and Mitch Garver lead the charge.
Garver hit .400 with seven RBI in the ALDS for the Rangers, while Seager scored four runs and walked nine times.
As for Carter, the youngster went 3-10 in the Rangers’ deep lineup which also includes Marcus Semien, Adolis Garcia, and Josh Jung. If there’s one thing that Texas has proved in October thus far, it’s that anyone in this lineup can be opposing teams.
Meanwhile, the Astros’ potent lineup put the boots on a very strong Twins pitching staff in the ALDS.
OF Yordan Alvarez hit .438/.471/1.313 with four home runs and six extra-base hits in the series, while 1B Jose Abreu erupted against a familiar foe in Minnesota. Abreu hit three home runs and drove in a team-high eight RBI.
The Astros did plenty of damage against the Rangers in the regular season, as Houston took nine of their 13 games against Texas and scored 93 runs. Houston will have to face Jordan Montgomery in Game 1, a pitcher who threw 6.2 IP of one earned run ball against the Astros on June 27 as a member of the Cardinals.
A Look at the Pitching
The Rangers rotation has done the job thus far, although Montgomery did falter in what was a wild Game 2 against the O’s. Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, continued his masterful postseason career when he struck out seven in seven against the Orioles in Game 3.
Now, the Rangers will need Eovaldi to be sharp against a slightly different-looking Astros team that got to him two years ago in the playoffs. Eovaldi did nab a win in Game 2 of the 2021 ALCS with the Red Sox in a shaky outing but then yielded two hits and two walks (4 ER) in 0.2 IP of relief work in Game 4.
In more recent memory, Eovaldi gave up four earned in 1.1 IP against the Astros on September 5.
However, one variable that needs to be kept in mind is Rangers RHP Max Scherzer, acquired by Texas in the summer. Scherzer’s ramped up since he was initially believed to be done for the rest of the year due to a teres major strain. But after a simulated game this past week, he believes he’s “good to go” for the ALCS.
As for the Astros, the bullpen was stout in the ALDS. Justin Verlander and Cristian Javier were also excellent, but the same could not be said for Framber Valdez. Valdez gave up five over 4.1 IP and just didn’t get the ground balls he traditionally looks for.
While not officially scheduled as of this writing, he’ll likely be in the rotation against the Rangers, a team he carved up on September 5.
On paper, the ALCS series between the Rangers and Astros is a fairly even series. Both Texas and Houston have the bats and the arms, although the ‘Stros do have an edge on the mound with their depth.
We believe that the Astros will win this series but it will be a tight one.