The divisional round of the 2021 MLB postseason starts on Thursday as the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros do battle in Texas with two of the MLB’s top lineups taking center stage.
The Astros are the only team in the majors to have struck out in fewer than 20 percent of their at-bats, and their 5.33 runs per game led MLB. The White Sox ranked fifth in batting average and third in on-base percentage, and had a better batting average and home runs per at-bat rate against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching.
Left-hander Lance McCullers Jr. gets the start for Houston. Throughout much of his career, he has performed better at home than on the road, but this season had a 3.51 ERA at home compared to a 2.70 ERA on the road. He had two fewer strikeouts per nine innings at home and his home runs per nine innings rate nearly doubled at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros back him up with a bullpen that has a 4.24 ERA the past 30 days, which ranks 19th in MLB, and the Astros and White Sox rank 14th and 15th in bullpen ERA, respectively, since the All-Star break with each above 4.00.
The White Sox enter having scored at least five runs in six of their past seven games, and the Astros are one of two playoffs team that played more than 50 percent of their games over the total, a trend that will continue on Thursday.
THE PLAY: White Sox-Astros total, Over 8 runs.