Two of the top offensive units in baseball will compete in the NLDS when the Chicago White Sox return to the postseason after a 162-game campaign for the first time in 13 years to battle perennial contenders the Houston Astros.
The White Sox rank seventh in the majors in offense, and while that would be good enough to make them a favorite to outhit their opponent in just about any other series, they run into an Astros club that ranks second overall.
It might come down to pitching, ironically enough, as both squads boast the best ERA in the AL (White Sox: 3.57; Astros: 3.60), per Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart. Whichever team can slow the other, even in the slightest, should be able to control the momentum of the series and finish the other out.
That the Astros have the postseason experience they do and any number of quality batters able to hit one out of the park in crucial situations makes them an incredibly difficult out. Chicago will have the first chance to eliminate them, beginning Thursday.
Thursday, Oct. 7: White Sox at Astros, Game One, Time TBD (MLB Network/FS1)
Friday, Oct. 8: White Sox at Astros, Game Two, Time TBD (MLB Network/FS1)
Sunday, Oct. 10: Astros at White Sox, Game Three, Time TBD (MLB Network/FS1)
Monday, Oct. 11: Astros at White Sox, Game Four, Time TBD (MLB Network/FS1)*
Wednesday, Oct. 13: White Sox at Astros, Game Five, Time TBD (MLB Network/FS1)*
A Series 16 Years in the Making
The Houston Astros are no strangers to the postseason. World Series champions in 2017, they have won four of the past five AL West titles and captured the wild card in 2020. Their resume is not without blemishes, but few teams have been as consistent a part of the playoff picture as the Astros in recent years.
The White Sox's last major victory in the postseason? A 2005 World Series win. The opponent? Houston, in a 4-0 sweep.
While this series does not have quite as much at stake as their most recent postseason showdown, and both teams are now in the AL, it is an opportunity for the Astros to avenge that one-sided defeat.
For the White Sox, it is a chance to send Houston packing and record a first postseason series victory since they won it all 16 years ago.