Chris Moore| BKD TV Insiders
The defending American League champion Kansas City Royals had no World Series loser hangover. They came out of the gates hot and ended up with the best record in the American League and won 95 games. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are back in the playoffs for the first time in ten years after winning the wildcard game over the Yankees on Tuesday night. In a lot of ways, the Royals are facing the team that they were last year in this series. The Astros are a young upstart group who are naïve to what playoff baseball is all about, but they don’t seem to care. Any team that goes into Yankee Stadium and shuts them out, is not afraid of the big stage.
The Royals come into this postseason with one goal in mind: a World Series. Anything less than that is a disappointment. There are no concerns about the bullpen despite losing Greg Holland for the season as they have Ryan Madsen in the seventh inning now and pushed Herrera and Davis back to the eighth and ninth inning. The offense is one of the best in the league despite not hitting many homeruns and they are certainly the best defensive club left in the AL and maybe in all of baseball. The big question for this team is the same as last year; starting pitching. They traded for Johnny Cueto in hopes that he would be there ace but he has struggled mightily against the AL lineups since coming over to the Royals. Yordano Ventura is very inconsistent. He’s capable of no-hitters and capable of not being able to get out of the first inning. There bullpen is great, but the starting rotation has major questions to answer in order to meet their lofty goals.
The Houston Astros come in with all the momentum in the world after beating the Yankees in a three hit shutout. They bring the homerun ball every time they step into the park and have a very good chance to take advantage of the weak starting pitching in Kansas City. However, the Astros have questions about their rotation as well because their Cy Young candidate won’t be available until game three which means he will only pitch one game in this series. That’s a lot to ask of this pitching staff to beat this great lineup twice. Keuchel’s game three start also becomes a must win in that case as well. So Houston is already at a disadvantage to start. The one equalizer they have? The long ball. Their youth and speed will be no advantage because Kansas City makes a living with their youth and speed. So Houston has to hit homeruns in bunches in order win this series.
The Astros won the season series 4-2, with the last game coming in July. As said earlier, the Dallas Keuchel game three start will be a must win for Houston. Along with that I believe they’re going to need an offensive explosion in another game in order win this series. The Royals are hungry and talented and have a formula they know will work in the postseason. Due to that, I like they Royals to win this series in four games and move on to the ALCS for the second consecutive year.
Byron K. Dixon- Royals
Demarus Dye- Royals