It’s finally here. Football Sunday in Texas. The Rangers face off against the Astros to see who goes to the World Series.
After six years of futility and losing, the Rangers are back in the Championship Series for the first time since 2011. For Houston, it’s their seventh year in a row.
Here’s something to be very worried about as a Rangers fan: Twenty-three experts at The Athletic were asked to predict the winner of the Houston-Texas series.
Sixty-one percent predicted it would be the Rangers.
They also predicted the Dodgers, Braves, and Orioles. There’s only one thing you can predict when predicting baseball and that’s that predictions are unpredictable.
Most of the predictions, anyway, were based on nothing more than someone had a feeling.
Here are four that were at least interesting (reprinted without permission).
Eno Sarris (Texas): The Rangers lineup is inevitable. Just as importantly, the Rangers are using the Nationals’ roadmap of slimming the pitching staff down to the very few trustable arms, and it just feels like we’re going to get a Max Scherzer/Willis Reed moment in this series, as well.
Chris Kirschner (Houston): The Rangers employ Aroldis Chapman. By law, if he’s employed by a team facing the Astros in the playoffs then that team will not advance.
Stephen J. Nesbitt (Houston): The Astros won nine of 13 games against the Rangers in the regular season, including six of their last seven matchups. And my crystal ball here says the Rangers’ pitching, which has performed wonderfully this postseason, will come apart a bit over a seven-game series. The Rangers’ lineup is formidable and firing on all cylinders. They have power. They have speed. They have two catchers who mash. The Rangers’ hitters can and likely will make life miserable for the Astros’ pitching staff. But the Astros’ bats are going now, too, and all it takes is jumping on Jordan Montgomery or Nathan Eovaldi early to send the Rangers scrambling to rearrange their pitching plans.
Tyler Kepner (Texas): This should be a great matchup of two Lone Star State teams with Texas-sized confidence to match. Since Bruce Bochy never loses in the LCS (4-0 with San Diego and San Francisco), I’ll give his Rangers the edge in seven.
Here’s hoping the baseball gods smile on Tyler and Eno. And the Bochy keeps his undefeated Championship Series record.