The Oakland A’s and Houston Astros are set to face off in the American League Divisional Series. It feels like this meeting was inevitable.
To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
Even though Ric Flair dropped that pearl of wisdom over 30 years ago at this point, the fundamental truth remains – you cannot claim to be the best without beating them. While the Oakland A’s captured the AL West this season, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, something still felt as though it was missing.
That missing piece begins on Monday. The A’s are set to face the Houston Astros, a team that should not even be in the postseason, to advance. Houston, despite a 29-31 record, swept the Twins to make their way to the second round and set up a divisional showdown.
The Oakland A’s now have a series with some intriguing storylines ahead. Let’s look at three of those going into this series.
The battle of divisional supremacy
The Oakland A’s may have won the AL West, but that will not mean anything if they cannot get past the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
On paper, this should be an easy enough matchup. The A’s won seven of their ten meetings this year, outscoring Houston 38-25. Of those 25 runs, 15 came in the A’s three losses, indicating the overall ease that the pitching staff had against the Astros.
But the postseason is a different animal. Pitchers will be pulled at the first sign of trouble. This eventual battle of the bullpens should favor the A’s, and could be the difference in the series. But until that actually happens, and the A’s officially eliminate the Astros, that spectre of divisional supremacy will remain.