ALCS – Around The Moon Roundtable Talk
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Manager Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros looks on during a team workout at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 13, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

ALCS – Around The Moon Roundtable Talk

The biggest 3 game road trip of the season is a few hours away. The Astros have an opportunity in front of them to not only send a message but to reach their 3rd Fall Classic in 5 years. That’s history right there boys and girls, but before any of that can be thought about a Boston Red Sox team hotter than hell itself have the same opportunity and are at home. This three-game set starts off Monday night in a pivotal swing game where Urquidy matches up against Rodriguez in what should be another high-scoring affair. I asked some of the content guys to give me some answers and well below is the chaos that was brought let’s dive in.

Leaving Houston tied 1-1, how do you feel as we head to Boston?

Dez: I feel somewhat confident but I also want to throw up everywhere. The fact that we had to steal a game at home isn’t great but I am learning to just ride the wave and accept this is going the distance. Both teams are mirror images of each other with a lineup that fucks and a pitching staff with question marks.

Stoney: I feel pretty decent headed to Boston tied 1-1 considering we only got 4 total innings out of game 1 and 2 starters. this series is going to be a long one so buckle up.

Astros Future: Obviously 2-0 would be better, but still getting one at home works. I think they battled in game 2 but the deficit was too big to overcome. Getting 3 runs off their “ace” was nice too.

Spaceman: Game 2 is something we need to forget about. It was over in the 2nd inning despite the Astros offense putting up 5 (2 of which were late home runs) – but it was too little too late. Garcia was leaving balls out over the plate, and Odorizzi was making excuses post-game because he didn’t have time for his regular preparation. Sometimes you just gotta show up and show out – I haven’t seen much of that from Odorizzi this season. Stringing together a 5 for the scoreboard is nice, but still looks bleak next 4 in the first two frames for Boston. The boys play well on the road, and for how dinged up the Astros pitching staff is, Boston’s ain’t much better in my opinion. Without the risk of sounding too much like John Madden, whoever can put up the most runs will win these games. The offense needs to continue to put up runs and hit in clutch situations as they have been, and the pitching staff needs to hold the Sox to a reasonable number of runs. This series is totally winnable. At this point, I am not too concerned, especially with news of Garcia remaining on the roster. Reset and move forward to Boston.

Astros UK: Strangely confident, considering the carnage of our pitching situation with Lance McCullers unavailable plus Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia seemingly coming down to Earth at precisely the worst moment imaginable. I just feel our offense is set up incredibly right now and I have immense faith in them as a lineup to carry us through.

BLima from 790: I’m a little concerned with the starting rotation but I feel good about the Astros going into Boston 1-1. This team has logged so many postseason innings and played in front of the worst of the worst in 2021 so a crazy Fenway won’t phase them.

Andrew G: Slightly worried, mainly due to the state of the pitching staff. Injuries to Lance McCullers and Luis Garcia mean Boston is in much better shape to navigate the rest of this series. If the Astros can get length out of Jose Urquidy and Framber Valdez in two of the next three games, I’ll feel a lot better about the team’s chances.

Tony Adams: Obviously, the starting pitching has not been good the first two games and the Astros are running out of healthy arms in their rotation. If the bullpen (other than Odorizzi) hadn’t been so good over these 2 games, we could be down 0–2. Excluding Odorizzi, the bullpen held the red-hot Boston lineup to 1 earned run over 10.1 innings. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the pen over the course of this season.

Lil Bro: Honestly, not great. I’d be a whole lot more comfortable if we were going into game 3 with our ace on the bump, but we’re not… The bats have proven that they can stay alive however, so hopefully what we lack in pitching will be made up for in offensive production.

In this 3 game set in Boston, who is your offensive x-factor, and who is your pitching x-factor?

Dez: Carlos Correa and it’s not a question in my mind. When the lights are the brightest he shines more than anyone. Be the villain and pay the man. Pitching-wise, I think it’s Javier. I think he is going to get a lot of big innings over this 3 game stretch.

Stoney: My offensive x-factor is Alex Bregman. the dude loves hitting against the Red Sox in the playoffs and sitting in the 3 hole can change the outlook of the game with this lineup. the pitching x-factor is how far can urquidy go in game 3? if he can get 6 or 7 incredible innings and give the bullpen some rest that could really swing the series.

Future: X-Factor on offense for me is going to be Yuli. We need him to get going and he had a solid game 2 with the homer and 3 RBIs. Pitching it has be Urquidy I think. Our starters haven’t been very good yet and the bullpen has picked up the slack, but we need a good start from someone and he has performed well on the big stage in the past.

Spaceman: I’d like to see the big man Yordan Alvarez match what JD Martinez is doing. We all know he’s capable of it, and especially tonight vs Eduardo Rodriguez who gave up 19 homers this season. In the 23 postseason games so far, the teams who hit the most home runs are 14-1. As far as the arms go, you’ve got to stay ahead in the series and that’s going to fall down to Jose Urquidy who has been one of the Astros most consistent arms when he’s been healthy. I look for him to eat some innings and keep the Red Sox runs to a minimum while the offense jumps on Rodriguez early. In the bullpen I think we’ll continue to see Brooks Raley shine – someone who Astros fans dreaded seeing come out of the bullpen for most of the season has been lights-out lately, and I’m hoping he can continue down that road.

Astros UK: Offensively: Kyle Tucker. Unquestionably. Carlos Correa understandably takes the headlines with his leading performances but after the special year, he had I feel like we’re about to see something incredible here from Tucker. Pitching X factor? This is a risk as it could all come apart tonight but I’m sticking with Jose Urquidy. A fair bit of rust to shake off but I feel IF he gets through that 1st unscathed he will lay the platform for our bats tonight.

BLima from 790: Hitting X factor will be Yuli Gurriel. This lineup is sex but Yuli will come up clutch in timely situations in Boston. The pitching X factor is Jose Urquidy. Game 3 is a swing game for me. With game 4 most likely going to be a bullpen game, Urquidy has to come out and go 6 strong innings. Keep the pitch count down and let Dusty utilize only 2-3 guys out of the bullpen in game 3.

Andrew G: On offense, it’s Alex Bregman. Can he pepper the Green Monster and be that middle-of-the-order hitter the Astros need him to be? Between Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker, Bregman has been overlooked a bit this postseason. If he gets hot, the Astros will be tough to stop. On the pitching side, Urquidy is an easy choice. He hasn’t pitched yet this postseason, and the Astros will need at least five innings from him in Game 3. The Astros will already have to throw one bullpen game since they had to burn Jake Odorizzi in Game 2, so getting length from Urquidy is ridiculously important. If he’s forced to leave early, the bullpen might not be able to handle the workload.

Tony: It’s hard to pick an offensive X-factor with this lineup being so good. The 1–8 hitters are all above average, so I’ll go with Martín Maldonado. It would be huge for the Astros if he can give them 1 or 2 big hits over the next 3 games. On the pitching side, it has to be José Urquidy. The Astros really need the Game 3 starter to give them at least 5–6 good innings to avoid taxing the bullpen in the first of three games in three days. Urquidy has done it before in the postseason and there doesn’t seem to be a moment too big for him.

Lil Bro: Offensive X Factor you can really pick & chose whoever you want in this stout lineup, but personally I think it’s Yordon. What we need is RBIs & that has to come from our cleanup hitter. If he can produce & not be a snag in the middle of the order, the Astros may never stop hitting. Pitching X Factor is Ryan Stanek. Yes the Starters are flashy & the long arms matter, but Stanek is the glue that holds our bullpen together. There’ll undoubtedly be some close games in Boston, so having a guy that can get you out of a tough 6th or 7th inning is going to be crucial.

What needs to happen to get this series back to Houston?

Dez: Survive the surge!! Look, Fenway is going to be rocking they can taste the champagne but we have to stay the course. Sometimes we will have to take our medicine and chase a number, but this lineup fucks and is never out of a game unless you give up 2 grand slams in back-to-back innings. To get back to Houston, we need the pen to hold up, the defense to be sharp and the offense needs to carry us.

Stoney: You only have to win one game to get back to Houston. The Astros have the ability to win all three, but could really steal the series if they take two in Boston.

Future: Solid starting pitching and bats to stay hot. I like that we are getting into their own and that needs to keep happening. Get some innings out of starters, hits with RISP, and solid defense.

Spaceman: The Astros need to continue to play fantastic defense. The pitching staff has been getting more ground balls than ever, even with the absence of Lance McCullers who was among league leaders in that category. We saw what happened when Jose Altuve made a few errors in critical moments in the 2020 ALCS. They cannot allow that to happen this year. The offense will continue to roll and as long as the Astros make the put-outs that they are capable of making, we’ll have some more home games this season.

Astros UK: Honestly? Just the collective ability of the players to shake off the result in Game 2 and believe in their own abilities to make stamp their mark on this series, starting tonight. Our lineup has the power, explosiveness, and relentless qualities to turn the tide of momentum our way fast. Keep the faith and believe.

Blima Apollo: Quality starts on the mound and score early and often to help your staff pitch with a lead. (Big baseball guy editors note.)

Andrew G: The Astros need at least five solid innings out of Jose Urquidy in Game 3 and Framber Valdez in either Game 4 or 5. One of these games in Boston is likely to be a bullpen game, and this group simply can’t handle what could be three bullpen games in a row if the starters are forced out early. The Red Sox lineup is not easy to navigate, but Urquidy and Valdez are going to have to step up and eat some innings.

Tony: It would very helpful if Kiké Hernández’s God Mode finally expired. Although the Astros lineup is capable of scoring enough runs to overcome any bad outing by the Astros pitchers, that can’t be counted on for any given game. The Astros need to get one or two quality outings from pitchers we don’t expect. Maybe Greinke can start or come into a game and give you 4–5 scoreless innings. Can Odorizzi redeem his poor Game 2 outing? Maybe Cristian Javier comes in and locked down the Sox until it’s Stanek/Graveman/Pressly time. These three games in Boston are going to be a massive test for Astros pitching. It could be a total disaster, but I have a feeling it will be their finest hour.

Lil Bro: Control the momentum. You can’t let Fenway get the best of you every time the Red Sox get a punchout or slap a homerun. It’s going to be up to tactical game management by Maldy & Dusty to navigate through this 3 game set in Boston.

Editors Note:

Thank you for all the guys to take time out of their day to knock this out.

I say it all the time our team here at Apollo is special. We really are a family and we fight like one sometimes but we will go to war for each other, you guys, and the city always. Buckle up its time to go to war.

-@ApolloDez1

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