Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
ALCS Game 4
Friday, October 16, 2020 – 6:07 pm EST – Petco Park
- Astros: Framber Valdez (4-2 3.24 ERA, Postseason: 1-0 2.87 ERA)
- Rays: Blake Snell (5-3 3.57 ERA, Postseason: 1-0 2.00 ERA)
After the Rays won the first two games of the ALCS, the Astros responded by winning two straight and now trail just 3-2 in the series. We’re back to the Game 1 starters with Framber Valdez and Blake Snell facing off against each other once again. Valdez went six innings and allowed four hits and two runs with eight strikeouts and four walks including a home run.
Valdez has a solid strikeout rate and usually limits walks but had trouble in the first game of the series, allowing four. Valdez will get a very high ground ball rate and limit home runs, finishing the regular season with an ERA of 3.57 and an FIP of 2.85.
In the postseason, Valdez has pitched 18 innings and allowed just 11 hits and four runs of three home runs. He’s struck out 17 and walked 7. But what’s been his bread and butter has been the ground ball. Valdez has induced 29 ground balls to just 14 fly balls during the postseason.
This has helped him limit damage throughout the postseason. In past years, walks had been a bit of an issue for Framber but this year he really started to improve in all aspects of his game. He limited batters to a .240 batting average and not a single lefty hit a home run against him on the season.
In July he struggled with a 6.23 ERA but in August he started to make a name for himself, and although his September could’ve been better, he’s shown a lot of growth in the postseason. If Valdez gets through the first round of the order unscathed, he’ll be in great shape moving forward in this game as he has held the second and third time around the order to just over a .200 average.
Blake Snell will get the call for the Rays. Snell has thrown 15.2 innings and allowed five runs on 13 hiits with 15 strikeouts and six walks. He has also allowed a high amount of homers in the postseason, like every starter, with four. Snell is not a ground ball pitcher but struck out 11.34 batters per nine innings during the regular season.
He walked 3.24 batters per nine innings and allowed a homer 1.8 times per nine innings, which is also a bit high, especially for an ace. In his first start against the Astros, Snell went five innings and allowed six hits but just one run on a solo home run. He struck out two and walked two while allowing 12 fly balls and five ground balls. Other than his postseason start against the Blue Jays earlier in late September, Snell hasn’t been getting many strikeouts.
He’s only turned away six batters in his last 10 innings, which is unlike him. The Astros rarely strikeout against lefties which means that the Astros will put balls in play, work walks, and create havoc. Of course, we’ve also seen that the Astros a very content with leaving runners in scoring position and having nothing to show for their efforts per inning.
There’s only one team that has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series in ALCS history. The Astros are looking to create their own history and prove that their cheating scandal didn’t dictate just how good they can be. Valdez has a ton of potential moving forward. However, when he lets batters on base, he has an average of .290 and an on base percentage of .327. Valdez struggled to get out of jams with runners on base.
However, being able to induce ground balls and get strikeouts should help his case moving forward in this game and his career. Snell isn’t getting a high amount of strikeouts in the playoffs and the Astros really don’t strikeout often against lefties, or any pitcher.
Snell is different from Valdez in so many ways. He performs much better under pressure and in the clutch. With runners on, he buckles down and finds ways out of jams. He struggles the most when nobody is on base. With that said, I like the under in the first five innings in this one. If Snell allows a home run, it’ll likely be with bases empty.
Valdez might have trouble in the first inning but from there he usually settles in and makes quality pitches without allowing many to get on base. Take a look at these MLB odds. This duo of pitchers already hit the under in the first five in this series.