The Texas Rangers will take on the Houston Astros in the ALCS in the 2023 MLB postseason. Texas looked like they were trending in the wrong direction entering October, losing the AL West to Houston on the last day of the regular season. But the Rangers have caught fire in the playoffs on the back of Nathan Eovaldi, Jordan Montgomery and a dynamite offense, and now they might be getting some rotation reinforcements in the ALCS. The Astros, meanwhile, are making their whopping seventh straight appearance in baseball’s final four, with Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier forming a fearsome top three to go along with that star-studded lineup. Let’s take a look at the projected starting pitchers for the series.
Rangers vs. Astros starting pitchers
Game 1: Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20 ERA)
Game 2: Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63)
Game 3: Max Scherzer (13-6, 3.77)
Game 4: TBD (possibly Dane Dunning — 12-7, 3.70; and/or Andrew Heaney — 10-6, 4.15)
Game 5: Montgomery
Game 6: Eovaldi
Game 7: Scherzer
It’s not official yet, but it sure seems like Scherzer is all systems go for the ALCS after missing the last few weeks with a shoulder injury. Jon Gray seems like he could return from his forearm strain, as well, but his comments have been a little less optimistic regarding how much of a workload he’ll be able to pick up with such little build-up time — he could be headed for the bullpen, or at least a bulk role. Montgomery and Eovaldi are Texas’ two most reliable options, brilliant in all four of their postseason starts so far. They could get the ball for Games 1 and 2, or Bruce Bochy could opt to stagger them and pitch Scherzer in Game 2 in an effort to not put too much of a strain on his bullpen in consecutive days. Bochy piggybacked Dunning and Heaney in Texas’ Game 1 win over the Orioles, and he could do so again here.
Game 1: Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.22 ERA)
Game 2: Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.45)
Game 3: Cristian Javier (10-5, 4.56)
Game 4: Jose Urquidy (3-3, 5.29)
Game 5: Verlander
Game 6: Valdez
Game 7: Urquidy
Dusty Baker, by contrast, doesn’t have nearly as many decisions to make: Verlander will get the ball for Game 1, while Valdez would be the tip of the spear of about 26 other big-league pitching staffs. Javier is throwing as well as he has all year, pitching five shutout innings against the Twins in the ALDS, and Urquidy was very impressive against Minnesota as well. Those are a very solid four, with youngsters Hunter Brown and J.P. France waiting in the wings.