Oh man, the day we have been waiting for is finally here: Game 1 of the ALDS. If you are anything like me, you probably haven’t slept and also have a Pandora’s Box full of emotions manifesting somewhere in your body right now. So, fellow White Sox fans, sip your coffee, chug your beer, and buckle up for what will surely be a wild ride.
BUT FIRST — we at South Side Sox would like to give a hearty congratulations to the Chicago Sky, whose 79-69 win over first-seed Connecticut Suns landed them a spot in the 2021 WNBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history. Congratulations Sky, you deserve it. Catch the first game in a best-of-five series on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. CT on ABC.
Now usually in these things we talk about the pitching matchups then the lineup, but because this is a special post I wanted to start off by addressing something important: your nerves.
Many are worried that the White Sox regular season performance against the Astros is a bad sign for the playoffs. Fear not friends, for studies conducted by smart people in high places have shown that regular season performance has little to no correlation with postseason performance. In addition, just look at these cockamamie lineups we trotted out in our regular season losses to Houston this year:
Several of these guys didn’t even make the postseason roster, let alone will make the starting lineup for this series.
And now, with the Game 1 starter finally announced, only two big questions remain:
Q1: Is José OK?
A1: Does it matter? You KNOW he will be there, in perfect health or on death’s doorstep, to have himself a game.
Q2: With Dallas Keuchel not making the playoff roster, who are the announcers going to interview about their love affair with the Astros?
A2: Geoff Blum, obviously.
Geoff Blum will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Astros-White Sox Game 2 on Friday afternoon in Houston.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) October 6, 2021
The rare ceremonial first pitch thrower who could've been asked to do it by either team.
Today’s pitching matchup will feature the Battle of the Lances, Lance Lynn for the White Sox and Lance McCullers Jr. for the Houston Astros.
Both are experienced postseason pitchers, so this may look like an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. The Astros have faired a little better against Lance Lynn than the White Sox have against McCullers, but adding Eloy and Luis to the mix will surely affect the results. On the season, Lynn sports a 2.69 ERA with 176 SO and a 1.070 WHIP in 157 IP. While many believe that Lucas Giolito should have started Game 1, having an experienced postseason pitcher (who just so happened to be in the running for a Cy Young award this year) pitch the opener is not a bad position to be in. Sometimes you just gotta grab life by the balls, ya know?
Lance Lynn nut pick up after striking out the side pic.twitter.com/TRz63h1A6O— Ali White Claw (@aliwhitesox) June 19, 2021
For his part, McCullers boasted a 3.16 ERA in the regular season, with 185 SO and a 1.220 WHIP in 162 1⁄3 IP. Of note, much like Dallas Keuchel, Jake Odorizzi was left off the roster after a struggling season and Zack Greinke will likely pitch out of the pen due to his shoulder and neck injuries.
While Tony is waiting til the literal last minute to make a determination on the lineup due to José’s illness, the Astros lineup is as predicted:
Astros Game 1 lineup vs. Lance Lynn— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) October 7, 2021
Obviously, the big guys to watch are pretty much all of them, as Astros ranked first in the regular season for BA and OBP, second for OPS and third for slugging. They don’t strike out often either, coming in at 29th out of 30 teams (oh by the way, did you know the Cubs batters led the league in strikeouts this year?).
In comparison, White Sox batters rank fifth in BA, third in OBP, 10th in slugging, and seventh in OPS.
But don’t let this discourage you, remember, the Sox have barely played at a full-strength this season. With the Big Six playing together, the team has been HOT.
Will the lineup ever be revealed? Who knows. Ready or not, here we come.
And here it is! Abreu, perhaps with a nod to the recent illness, will get the start at DH, likely flipping spots with Gavin Sheets, who would normally be DHing.