2021 ALDS Preview

Story posted October 7, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by JC Colavita

It's that special time of year again! The leaves are changing colors, Starbucks is full of all things pumpkin spice, but most importantly, it's time for some October baseball!

The American League side of the MLB postseason bracket is shaping up to be one for the ages. The first ALDS matchup is an AL East clash between the reigning AL champion Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

Both teams were projected to be around the middle of the pack in the American League.

The Rays lost two of their top starting pitchers from 2020 when Blake Snell was shipped off to San Diego for prospects, and Tyler Glasnow tore his UCL in mid-June, requiring Tommy John Surgery. Boston was predicted to be better than in 2020, but almost no one believed them to be legitimate contenders.

Despite all of their setbacks, the Rays came back stronger as they reached 100 wins for the first time in franchise history and had two rookies in 2020 ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena and top prospect Wander Franco leading the charge toward the postseason.

The bullpen has been Tampa Bay’s strong point over the past few seasons, and this year was no different. Andrew Kittredge and Collin McHugh had ERAs below two and appear to be the most reliable arms in a deep staff that will undoubtedly pitch a ton of innings in the playoffs. The Rays bullpen has historically pitched more innings than their starters over the last two years.

The Red Sox will look to combat the Ray’s stellar pitching staff with their potent offense. Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber gave the New York Yankees trouble in the Wild Card game, and if Boston is to get past the heavily favored Rays, these two need to stay hot.

The Sox are thankful to have Chris Sale back on the mound for another postseason. After missing all of 2020, the lanky left-hander went 5-1 in nine starts during the regular season, and combining him with Nathan Eovaldi could give Boston an edge in this series.

Overall, I think Tampa Bay has this one in the bag. As the saying goes, good pitching beats good hitting every single time, and with the talented Rays staff, this series won’t stray from the norm.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays advance in four games.

The other series on the American League side finds the Houston Astros of the West against the Chicago White Sox of the Central. It will for sure be a battle of two high-powered offenses.

The White Sox ran away with their division this season, ultimately ending the season ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians by a whopping 13 games.

Jose Abreu followed up his 2020 MVP campaign with a 30 home run season while also driving in 117 runs. Abreu had a brilliant supporting cast as Tim Anderson hit over .300 and Yasmani Grandal left the yard 23 times.

The Chicago offense had the fifth-highest team batting average in the league, but they'll face the club that led the majors in that category. The 2017 World Series champions showed no signs of slowing down their lengthy run of production.

The Astros had three players, Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez with 30 or more home runs. Seven out of the nine members of their starting lineup had an OPS+ of over 100, meaning they were well above average hitters.

Both teams have explosive offenses, but the White Sox have the upper hand in the rotation. I don't see Houston fending off a starting rotation with ace Lucas Giolito and all-stars Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn.

This may be Carlos Correa's final go-around with the Astros, so you can bet that he's going to give this everything he has, but it won’t be enough.

Prediction: Chicago White Sox advance in five games.


JC Colavita is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jrc6383@psu.edu.