The Astros swept the Cleveland Indians 11-2 on Monday afternoon and will face either the Yankees or Red Sox, two teams they beat on their way to a World Series last season, in the American League Championship Series. New York and Boston are locked in a 1-1 tie as the series shifts back to New York.
The Astros dominated the Indians about as much as a team can be dominated in the postseason. Want proof? Baseball is a game of numbers. Sure, the 3-0 is the most important number, but check out some of these ALDS stats. The Astros starting pitchers out-dueled the Indians with an 2.40 ERA to their 4.20. They outscored the Tribe 21-6. But if you really want to see the difference, check the bullpen: Cleveland ERA 11.70, Astros ERA 0.93. Game. Set. Match.
4. Alex Bregman
Honestly, Bregman is the best Astro right now and it really isn't close. He is the guy you want at the plate when it counts. He's almost automatic. In the ALDS, he went 5-9 with four walks, a double, two home runs, five runs scored and four RBI. Indians reliever Trevor Bauer will probably wake up at night screaming Bregman's name for the entire offseason.
3. Marwin Gonzales
If not for Bregman's unreal numbers, Gonzales would be the hero of this ALDS. He went 7-13 with two doubles and five RBI. He had essentially the game winning double in game two and keeps daring teams to challenge him. He had an up and down season, but his stock is certainly on the rise in the playoffs.
2. George Springer
With two home runs on Monday (three total in the series), Springer took the lead in most post season home runs by an Astro for his career. Considering the names that came before him, that is a remarkable stat. When you realize he nearly ripped the thumb off of his hand a little over a month ago, it's downright ridiculous.
1. Astros Pitching
Even with the incredible ERA and strikeout numbers put up by the Astros — they have 24 strikeouts between starters and relievers — it is difficult to put into words just how dominant this staff has been. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are nearly unbeatable and the combination of Colin McHugh, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna must be terrifying for opponents. It's damn fun to watch, especially considering the staff they had to cobble together in 2017.
4. Indians Relief Pitching
Cleveland got respectable starting pitching all three games, but the minute they went to their pen, the Astros bats feasted. They were responsible for the bulk of the runs scored by the Astros and they just seemed frustrated. Who can blame them?
3. Winner of the Other Half of the ALDS
With the Yankees and Red Sox battling it out in the other division series, it feels a bit like "who gets stuck having to face the Astros?" Both are outstanding squads, but this Astros ballclub is absolutely rolling and will be set up to run their regular rotation starting game one. Best of luck.
2. The Astros "Not as Good as 2017" Narrative
There was a bit of moaning about how the Astros weren't as good as last season, particularly during August. A mix of injuries and some poor offense, particularly at Minute Maid Park, led to some grousing that, perhaps, this wasn't the same team. They were right. It's not. It's better. As good as that championship team was last year, they didn't sweep anyone.
Trevor Tyler Bauer
After picking a fight with the Astros over pitch spin rate earlier this season, Bregman, who works out with Bauer in the offseason, jokingly referred to Bauer as "Tyler." After the whopping Bregman put on him in the ALDS, it should stick. The Indians kept rolling the former starter out there and he kept giving up the runs for a 6.75 ERA and a rough offseason staring him in the face.
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