Thursday, January 26, 2023
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Preview: ALDS Game 4 – Houston Astros (2-1) at Chicago White Sox (1-2)

ALDS, GAME 4: RHP LANCE MCCULLERS JR. (1-0, 0.00) VS. LHP CARLOS RODÓN (13-5, 2.37 IN ’21)

HOUSTON ASTROS NOTES

TODAY’S GAME: After yesterday’s postponement, the Astros and White Sox will finally play Game 4 of the ALDS today with the Astros still one win away from advancing to their fifth straight ALCS…with today’s game being played a day later than scheduled, the Astros
will now start RHP Lance McCullers Jr. on full rest in place of yesterday’s scheduled starter RHP José Urquidy…McCullers will be opposed by LHP Carlos Rodón, who remains the White Sox scheduled starter despite the rain out.

TODAY’S STARTER: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. is coming off a stellar Game 1 start, in which he earned the win after tossing 6.2 scoreless innings, while allowing just four hits and no walks…McCullers has been a big game pitcher his entire career, posting a 2.87 ERA (17ER/53.1IP) in 15 postseason appearances (eight starts)…he’s coming off his best regular season as a pro this year, as he finished his season ranking first in the AL in opponent batting average (.205), first in opponent OPS (.628) and second in ERA (3.16).

DIVISION SERIES HISTORY: This marks the Astros 13th appearance in the Division Series, going 6-6 in those previous 12…since 2004, the Astros have won six of their last seven Division Series and have won four straight, dispatching the Red Sox in 2017 (4g), the Indians in 2018 (3g), the Rays in 2019 (5g) and the A’s in 2020 (4g)…since 2017, the Astros have a 14-5 record in the ALDS (.737).

IN THE DUGOUTS: This series offers an intriguing matchup in the dugout between managers Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa…Baker ranks 10th all-time in postseason managerial wins with 33 (10-6 with the Astros) and is the only manager in MLB history to win division titles with five different clubs (Astros, Nationals, Reds, Cubs, Giants)…LaRussa counters with 71 postseason wins, which ranks second all-time.

VS. THE SOX: This series features the AL West Champion Astros vs. the AL Central Champion White Sox…below are a few notes on the series.

• the Astros went 5-2 against the White Sox in the regular season, including a four-game sweep in Houston.

• the series also features the top two starting pitching staffs in the AL, with the White Sox staff (3.57) ranking first in starter’s ERA and the Astros (3.60) second.

• offensively, the Astros (.339) and White Sox (.336) ranked first and second in the AL in team OBP.

WE MEET AGAIN: This series is the second postseason matchup between the Astros and White Sox, who last saw each other in October in the 2005 World Series, which ended in a four-game sweep by the White Sox…that series was a lot closer than face value, as all four games of that series were determined by two-or-fewer runs.

ABOUT GAME 3: The Astros were out slugged by the White Sox in Game 3 on Sunday in a 12-6 loss in Chicago…RF Kyle Tucker had a night, going 2×4 with a homer and four RBI…his night was not enough to overcome a five-run 3rd inning and a three-run 4th, which put the White Sox ahead for good.

ON THE BRINK: The Astros are one win away from advancing to their fifth straight League Championship Series, a feat that has only been accomplished by two other clubs in the Majors since the 1969 season, the Braves (1991-99) and the A’s (1971-75).

STREAKER: LF Michael Brantley has hit safely in 14 straight postseason games, dating back to Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS, a streak that ties as the longest postseason streak in franchise history, also reached by OF George Springer (2017-18)…Brantley’s streak ties as the eighth-longest in MLB history and should he extend it to 15 today, it would be the longest in the Majors since SS Alcides Escobar posted a 15-game streak for the Royals in their 2015 postseason run.

KYLE DRIVER: In Game 3, RF Kyle Tucker became the seventh player in club history to post a four-RBI game in the postseason…he also drove in three in Game 2, making him the first Astros player in club postseason history to drive in three-plus runs in consecutive postseason games.

RBI MACHINE: With two RBI this series, SS Carlos Correa has upped his career postseason RBI total to 52, which rank seventh in  MLB history.

ALL-TIME POSTSEASON RBI IN MLB HISTORY
1. Bernie Williams: 80 T4. David Ortiz: 61
2. Manny Ramirez: 78 6. Albert Pujols: 54
3. David Justice: 63 7. Carlos Correa: 52
T4. Derek Jeter: 61 8. Reggie Jackson: 48

LEADING HIS COUNTRY: 1B Yuli Gurriel, the AL batting champ, has 52 hits and 27 RBI in 60 career postseason games…he leads all Cuban-born players in career postseason hits, RBI and games.

FIRESTARTER: 2B Jose Altuve, who scored a career high 117 runs this season, has scored five runs this series and 54 in his  postseason career, immediately trailing Albert Pujols and David Justice for sixth all-time in MLB history…additionally, Altuve’s
18 career postseason homers are the most in franchise history and rank tied for fifth all-time in MLB history.

BEAT THE BEST: 3B Alex Bregman has homered 11 times in the postseason, all off former All-Stars… his list: LHP Chris Sale (2x), RHP Stephen Strasburg (2x), RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Fernando Rodney and LHP Blake Snell.

FOUR HORSEMAN: Per Elias, including their three games this series, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, SS Carlos Correa and 1B Yuli Gurriel have played in more postseason games together than any other four teammates in MLB history (60 games)…Altuve and Correa have played 63 postseason games together in the field, the most by any 2B/SS duo in MLB history.

 

TODAY’S ASTROS STARTER: RHP LANCE MCCULLERS JR.

W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
2021: 13-5 3.16 28 28 162.1 122 59 57 76 185
CAREER: 45-30 3.57 122 119 671.0 566 287 266 274 750

vs. CWS W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
2021: 2-0 2.08 2 2 13.0 4 3 3 6 14
CAREER: 4-1 2.17 6 6 37.1 24 10 9 9 43

CAREER MLB GAME-HIGHS: 2021 GAME-HIGHS:
Strikeouts: 11 (4x), last, 7/29/18 vs. TEX 10, 7/16 at CWS
Walks: 6 (2x), last, 4/11/18 at MIN 4 (7x), last, 9/23 at LAA
Hits: 9 (2x), last, 7/23/17 at BAL 8, 8/8 vs. MIN
Earned Runs: 8 (2x), last, 8/5/20 at ARI 6, 4/14 vs. DET
Innings Pitched: 9.0 6/3/15 vs. BAL 8.0, 5/11 vs. LAA
Low-Hit CG: 4, 6/3/15 vs. BAL none

CAREER MLB SPLITS:
Home/MMP: 26-10, 2.77 ERA, 60G/GS, 110ER/357.2IP
Away: 19-20, 4.48 ERA, 62G/59GS, 156ER/313.1IP
Day: 15-11, 3.85 ERA, 46G/43GS, 105ER/245.2IP
Night: 30-19, 3.41 ERA, 76G/GS, 161ER/425.1IP
Postseason: 2-2, 2.87 ERA, 15G/8GS, 17ER/53.1IP
Longest Winning Streak: 5 (2x), last, 4/30/21-7/2/21
Longest Losing Streak: 4, 8/3/15-9/22/15

2021 SPLITS:
Home: 6-3, 3.51 ERA, 16G/GS, 36ER/92.1IP
Away: 7-2, 2.70 ERA, 12G/GS, 21ER/70IP
Day: 3-3, 3.38 ERA, 11G/GS, 24ER/64IP
Night: 10-2, 3.02 ERA, 17G/GS, 33ER/98.1IP
Longest Winning Streak: 5, 4/30-7/2
Longest Losing Streak: 2, 8/8-8/15

LAST START – ALDS GAME 1 vs. CWS: allowed 4 hits, did not issue a walk and struck out 4 in 6.2 scoreless innings…became the first Astros pitcher toss at least 6.2 innings in a postseason without a walk since Brandon Backe (7IP) did so in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series vs. CWS…became the 11th pitcher in franchise history to toss at least 6.2 IP shutout innings in the postseason, and the first since Gerrit Cole (7IP) in Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS vs. NYY.

ABOUT MCCULLERS: fiery starting pitcher made 28 starts this season, allowing 3-or-fewer runs in 23 of his 28 outings.
• veteran of 6 MLB season, reached career highs this season in starts (28), wins (13), innings pitched (162.1) and strikeouts (185).
• including minor league action, his career high for innings pitched in a single season was 157.2, which was reached in 2015 between minor league and Major League action.
• among qualifying pitchers, ranked second in the AL in ERA (3.16), trailing only LHP Robbie Ray (2.84).
• allowed just 13 homers in his 162.1 innings this season, giving him the lowest home runs per 9.0 ratio (0.72) in the AL…he also led the AL in opponent batting average (.205) and opponent OPS (.628), while ranking 4th in strikeouts per 9.0 (10.26).
• also ranked 1st in the AL in ground ball percentage (56.9) and 2nd in ground ball to fly ball ratio (2.44).
• held right-handed hitters to a .188 (59×313) average, while lefties posted a .223 (63×283) average against McCullers.
• had been on a strong run of strikeouts, compiling at least 7 strikeouts in 13 of his final 17 starts…went 6 straight starts with 8+ strikeouts from July 2-Aug. 3.
• has been healthy for most of the season, outside of a 3-week stint on the IL from May 23-June 15 (right shoulder soreness).
• tied his career high with a 5-game winning streak from April 30-July 2, which spanned 9 starts…had also posted a 5-game streak back in 2017.

LANCE’S REPERTOIRE: has showcased a new slider this season, throwing it 23.9% of the time…has thrown the pitch on 710 occasions, with opponents going 24×158 (.152) when they put it in play.
• still relies heavily on his famous curveball (25%) and his hard fastball (34%), while mixing in changeups (13.8%) and cutters (3.3%).
vs. CWS: in his career vs. the White Sox, he’s posted a 5-1 record and a 1.84 ERA (9ER/44IP) with 47 strikeouts in 7 starts…dominated the White Sox in three starts this season, going 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA (3ER/19.2IP) with 18 strikeouts.

IN THE POSTSEASON: has posted a 2.87 ERA (17ER/53.1IP) in 15 career postseason appearances (8 starts)…has started some of the biggest games in club history, including two Game 7s (2017 WS, 2021 LCS)… also, famously threw 24 straight curveballs to end Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS vs. NYY, to push the Astros in the 2017 World Series.

MCCULLERS WITH THE ASTROS: the 2017 AL All-Star signed a long-term contract with the Astros on March 26…the 5-year deal will  begin in 2022 and will keep him in an Astros uniform through the 2026 season.

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX NOTES

WHITE SOX AT A GLANCE
The Chicago White Sox, who went 93-69 during the regular season, continue the American League Division Series this afternoon with Game 4 against the Houston Astros.

LHP Carlos Rodón, who is 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA (8 ER/46.1 IP) and 44 strikeouts in seven career starts against the Astros, is scheduled to start the second straight “win or go home” game for the White Sox.

The Sox, who are attempting to become the 11th team in MLB history to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series (LCS or LDS), rallied on Sunday night for a 12-6 victory.

Game 5 (if necessary) is scheduled for tomorrow night (7:07 p.m. CT first pitch) in Houston … the winner of this series will face Boston in the ALCS, beginning Friday.

TODAY’S STORYLINES
The White Sox are 7-2 in their last nine postseason games at home dating to Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS.

Sox starting pitchers, who led the AL with a 3.57 ERA during the regular season, own and 11.17 mark (12 ER/9.2 IP) through three games of this series.

Carlos Rodón went 6-3 with a 2.26 ERA (16 ER/63.2 IP), 85 strikeouts and a .170 (38-224) opponents average in 11 starts at home this season.

José Abreu, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert have joined Juan Uribe as the only players in Sox history to hit safely in each of their first six postseason games.

Anderson’s 16 hits are the most in MLB history by a player in his first six postseason games (see box at right) … he is hitting .556 (15-27) over six games this October (including postseason) and is hitting .372/.389/.579 (54-145) with seven home runs and 21 RBI over his last 32 games (since 8/8).

Robert is batting .359/.404/.615 (69-192) with 13 doubles, 12 homers, 36 RBI and 35 runs scored in 46 games since returning from the injured list on 8/9 (including the postseason).

GAME 3 RECAP
Leury García homered with four RBI, Yasmani Grandal homered with three RBI, and four relievers combined to retire the final 15 hitters in order as the White Sox rallied from a four-run deficit to defeat Houston, 12-6, in front of a sellout crowd of 40,288.

Trailing, 5-1, Grandal hit a two-run home run off Luis Garcia in the third inning, and Leury García added a three-run shot off Yimi García later in the inning to give the Sox a 6-5 lead … after the Astros tied the game in the fourth, the White Sox responded with three in the bottom of the frame and three more in the eighth to close the game on a 11-1 run.

García’s four RBI tied for second-most by in Sox postseason history behind Ted Kluszewski (seven) in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series … Tim Anderson recorded his fifth three-hit effort in six career playoff games, already the most in franchise history.

Starter Dylan Cease lasted just 1.2 IP, allowing three runs … Michael Kopech (3 ER/2.1 IP) earned the victory, while Ryan Tepera (2.0 IP), Aaron Bummer (1.2), Craig Kimbrel (0.1) and Liam Hendriks (1.0) combined to retire the final 15 batters.

The Sox bullpen combined for 14 strikeouts (see box at right).

The White Sox recorded their first home playoff win since Game 3 of the 2008 ALDS vs. Tampa Bay (10/5/08).

MORE FROM GAME 3
Some notable accomplishments from the White Sox 12-6 victory in Game 3, in which they collected 16 hits and recorded 16 strikeouts.

Became the first team in MLB postseason history to score 10-plus runs while recording 15-plus strikeouts in a game.

16 hits were a White Sox postseason record, and 12 runs scored were the second-highest total in franchise history behind Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS vs. Boston (14-2 victory).

Sox pitchers struck out 16 batters, breaking the franchise record of 14 set in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series at Houston (14 innings).

The bullpen recorded 14 strikeouts over 7.1 IP, the second-highest total in postseason history behind Milwaukee’s 17 in Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS vs. the Dodgers.

Yasmani Grandal’s third-inning home run ended the White Sox streak of 20 consecutive singles to open the series, the longest in MLB
postseason history.

Marked the second time the White Sox have overcome a four-run deficit to defeat the Astros in the postseason (also Game 3 of 2005 World Series).

All nine starters recorded a hit, the second time in postseason history the Sox have accomplished that feat (Game 2 of 2005 WS vs. Houston) … hit multiple home runs in an inning (third) for the first time in franchise history.

The 4:27 TOG was the second-longest in Sox postseason history behind Game 3 of the 2005 World Series at Houston (5:41).

WHITE SOX VS. HOUSTON ASTROS
The Astros won the regular-season series, 5-2, sweeping a four-game set from 6/17-20 at Minute Maid Park before losing two of three games in Chicago to open the second half (7/16-18).

The White Sox batted .200/.282/.377 (44-220) with a 4.70 ERA (31 ER/59.1 IP) and were outscored, 35-23.

The Sox are 23-16 all-time in Houston during the regular season (2-0 in the postseason) and have won four of the last five.

The White Sox swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series.

THREE-HIT WONDER
Tim Anderson is 16-29 (.552) over his first six postseason games, including a franchise-record five three-hit games.

Anderson’s 16 hits are the most in MLB history by a player in his first six postseason games (see box at right) and are tied with Eddie Collins and A.J. Pierzynski for fifth in Sox history (Jermaine Dye owns the record with 20).

He collected three hits in each game of the 2020 AL Wild Card Series at Oakland, went 1-4 in Game 1 of the ALDS at Houston, 3-5 in Game 2 and 3-6 in Game 3.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The White Sox went 53-28 (.654) at home in 2021, the best record in the American League and their best mark since 2008 when they were 54-28 (.659).

The Sox hit 110 home runs at Guaranteed Rate Field, their most since in a season since 2012 (120) … the Sox ranked second in the AL with a 3.53 ERA at home.

Tim Anderson ranked fourth in the AL with a .325 average, while Lance Lynn (2nd, 2.56) and Dylan Cease (5th, 3.18) ranked among the AL leaders in ERA.

HOW THE CENTRAL WAS WON
The White Sox went 93-69 in 2021 to finish 13.0 games ahead of Cleveland, capture their first American League Central title since 2008 and reach the postseason in back-to-back seasons for first time in franchise history.

The 93 wins were the most for the White Sox since 2005 when they won the World Series after a 99-63 regular season … their 13.0-game margin of victory over the Indians was the second-largest in franchise history behind the 1983 club (20.0), also managed by La Russa.

VIEW FROM THE TOP
The White Sox were in first place for 152 days in 2021 (every day since 5/7), the third-highest total in franchise history behind the 2005 (183) and 2000 (169) clubs.

The Sox moved into first place for good with a 3-0 victory at Kansas City on 5/7, took an 8.0-game lead into the All-Star Break, and their lead was never smaller than 9.0 games after 8/1. l They were a season-high 25 games over .500 on 10/2 (93-68) and led the division by as much as 14.0 games, also on 10/2.

WINNING WAYS
The White Sox recorded a winning record in all sixth months in 2021 and have posted eight straight winning months dating back to last season, their longest streak since a nine-month run from June 1993-August 1994.

This season marks the first time since 1963 that the Sox have posted a winning record in all six months of a season.

#55 STARTER CARLOS RODÓN LHP

HT: 6-3 | WT: 245 Age: 28 (12/10/92) Signed Through: 2021
Born: Miami, Fl. | Resides: Covington, Ind.

Today’s Starters 2021 Career 2021 vs. Opp. Career vs. Opp.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr.* 1-0, 0.00 2-2, 2.87 1-0, 0.00 1-0, 0.00
LHP Carlos Rodón 13-5, 2.37 42-38, 3.79 1-0, 0.64 2-0, 1.55

RODÓN AT A GLANCE
Is scheduled to make his first career postseason start (second appearance), first in the Division Series and first against Houston.

Appeared in relief in Game 3 of the 2020 Wild Card Series at Oakland (see note below).

Finished the season on a six-start undefeated streak from 8/7-9/29, going 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA (6 ER/28.0 IP), 36 strikeouts and .178 (18-101) opponents average.

Was named to his first career American League AllStar team … joined Tim Anderson as the seventh and eighth White Sox first-round picks to be named All-Stars. … named the AL Player of the Week for the period of 4/12-18, his first career weekly honor … is one of three White Sox players in 2021 to receive the honor … also DH Yermín Mercedes (4/1-4) and 1B José Abreu (5/24-30).

Was on the injury list from 8/11-26 with left shoulder fatigue … has been on the injured list at least once each season since 2016: 2020 (left shoulders soreness), 2019 (Tommy John surgery), 2018 (recovery from left shoulder surgery), 2017 (left biceps bursitis/left  shoulder inflammation) and 2016 (sprained left wrist).

Is the third longest-tenured player on the White Sox behind Leury García (2013) and José Abreu (2014).

Originally was selected by the White Sox in the first round (third overall) of the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of North Carolina State.

LAST POSTSEASON APPEARANCE
Failed to record an out in his only career postseason appearance on 10/1/2020 at Oakland … allowed two runs on one hit and two walks.

Entered the game in the fourth inning with two outs in relief of Codi Heuer … walked the first batter he faced, allowed a double to Marcus Semien and intentionally walked the next batter before exiting the game.

2021 SEASON IN REVIEW
Completed his seventh season with the White Sox, establishing career bests in virtually every category. l His 2.37 ERA is lowest by a Sox pitcher with at least 130.0 IP since Chris Sale posted a 2.17 mark in 2014.

Went 5-0 with a 0.58 ERA (2 ER/31.0 IP), 44 strikeouts, a .114 opponents average (12-105), 0.68 WHIP, .367 OPS and just one homer allowed over his first five starts of the season from 4/5-5/7 … His 0.58 ERA was the lowest by a Sox in his first five games (all starts) of a season (previously Joe Benz, 0.65 in 1914).

Threw the 20th no-hitter in club history on 4/14 vs. Cleveland … retired the first 25 batters before hitting Roberto Pérez in the ninth … did not issue a walk and struck out seven in his first career shutout and 9.0-IP CG (114 pitches) … became the first AL pitcher to win his first two starts while allowing two total hits or less … was the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter within two years of having Tommy John surgery (STATS LLC);

Became the 27th pitcher in White Sox history to record 700 career strikeouts on 9/10 vs. Boston, striking out Rafael Devers in the fourth inning.

HOME SWEET HOME
Posted a 6-3 record with a 2.26 ERA (16 ER/63.2 IP), 85 strikeouts and .170 (38-224) opponents average in 11 home starts in 2021.

His 2.26 ERA at home is the second-lowest by a White Sox with at least 60.0 IP in Guaranteed Rate Field history (1991-2021), trailing only Alex Fernández in 1994 (2.23 ERA).

LETHAL COMBO
Owned the lowest opponents average against sliders (.107, 17-159) and the fifth-lowest on fastballs (.204, 53-260) in MLB … had the third most strikeouts with sliders (91) and the third-most with fastballs (90) among American League starters with a min. of 1,750 pitches.

His 181 strikeouts with the slider-fastball combo was the second-highest in MLB in 2021.

Three of the 17 hits allowed on sliders went for extra bases, the fewest in the AL in 2021 (min. 450 pitches).

Had the highest fastball velocity gain among MLB pitchers from 2020 with a 2.6 mph increase … his average fastball velocity this season is 95.4 mph (sixth in MLB).

VS. HOUSTON ASTROS
Is scheduled to make his first career postseason appearance against Houston … has made seven career start vs. the Astros (see box at right).

Has tossed at least 6.0 IP in each of his seven career starts vs. the Astros … has never allowed more than two earned runs in an outing.

Is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA (4 ER/27.0 IP), 26 strikeouts and .200 (20-100) opponents average in four career starts at Guaranteed Rate Field … earned the win in his last start on 7/18 in Chicago, allowing just one hit with 10 strikeouts over 7.0 scoreless IP.

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