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If you’re wondering what all the buzz is around the Houston Astros right now but you’re too afraid to ask, we talked to The Cougar’s sports editor to break it down for you.

Cooglife: So, the Astros are in the playoffs and beat the Chicago White Sox earlier this week. What’s the difference between the American League Division Series and the American League Championship Series?

James Mueller: The ALDS is the first round of the playoffs and is a best of five series, meaning a team must win three games to advance. The ALCS is the championship series in the American League, meaning the final two AL teams face off for a chance to go to the World Series. The ALCS is a best of seven series so a team must win four games to advance.

CL: How many games do the Astros need to win in this series, and then what happens if they do?

JM: The Astros need to beat the Red Sox four times over the span of seven games to win the AL pennant. If they do this, the Astros will advance to the World Series and face the winner of the National League Championship Series.

CL: What’s gotten the Astros this far this year? I know they have a new manager, how’s he been in your opinion?

JM: Hitting has gotten the Astros this far. The Astros have one of the MLB’s best offenses, putting up over five runs per game. While Astros pitchers had their struggles, they came through when they needed to. Lef by ace Lance McCullers Jr., who had a great season on the mound. Dusty Baker entered his second season as the Astros’ manager and has done a fine job with the team. He has a great personality and players love playing for him. The one knock I have on Baker is that his decision making is questionable at times.

CL: If we win this, who are our possible opponents in the World Series? What’s your opinion of them?

JM: The Astros would either play the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers. An Astros-Dodgers World Series would be a major headline and create a major buzz because it would be a rematch of the 2017 World Series. I would prefer not to play the Dodgers because they have the best team in baseball in my opinion. The Braves are also a good team and it’s solid hitters and pitchers but facing Atlanta in the World Series would create a more favorable matchup for the Astros compared to facing the Dodgers.

CL: Is there any player we should be watching out for on the Red Sox this series?

JM: Shortstop Carlos Correa has a knack for coming through in the clutch. Correa has put up some of the best postseason numbers at the plate in MLB history during his career. Correa is also the best defensive shortstop in the league, with a cannon of an arm. On the mound, I’d pay attention to reliever Kendall Graveman. Graveman was excellent for the majority of the regular season, being unhitttable at times. But Graveman struggled over the last month of the season, and hit a few road bumps in his ALDS appearances. Graveman is a key component of the Astros’ bullpen and will need to come through if the Astros are going to advance to the World Series.

CL: What do you think our chances are in the long run?

JM: I think the Astros have a solid chance of getting past the Red Sox and advancing to the World Series. The biggest question will be Astros pitching as McCullers is out for the ALCS due to a forearm injury he suffered during the ALDS. In terms of chances to win the World Series, it depends on who the Astros end up playing if they get there. If it’s the Dodgers, I think chances are slim, but if it’s the Braves I would give the advantage to the Astros.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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