Rays vs. Astros ALCS Game 3 | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

For the first time in the 2020 American League Championship Series, the Houston Astros will be the home team at the neutral site in San Diego on Tuesday when they face the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3.

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Why Bet on Tampa Bay? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Rays used a different lineup in Monday’s Game 2 vs. Houston than they did in winning Game 1 on Sunday. In postseason history, teams winning Game 1 of a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 114 of 179 times (63.7 pct.)

Austin Meadows his leadoff Monday and served as the DH. Ji-Man Choi started at first base and Joey Wendle played third. Randy Arozarena moved from second to third in the order. Here was the official lineup: Meadows DH, Brandon Lowe 2B, Arozarena LF, Choi 1B, Manuel Margot RF, Wendle 3B, Willy Adames SS, Kevin Kiermaier CF, Mike Zunino C. Remains to be seen if Manager Kevin Cash sticks with that for Game 3.

Combining regular season and postseason, the Rays have a major league-record 13 different pitchers with a save and are 33-1, 30-0 and 37-0 when leading after 6, 7 and 8 innings, respectively. Since July 28, 2019, the Rays have won 60 consecutive games when leading after 7 innings, the longest active streak in the majors.

Cash has not announced a starter for Game 3 on the mound. It probably will be an opener for an inning but then Ryan Yarbrough is expected to pitch the bulk of the game as he would be on normal rest.

Yarbrough is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA (8-IP, 2-ER) in four career playoff appearances. Yarbrough went five innings in relief while allowing two runs in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Yankees. Yarbrough was called on to replace Ryan Thompson with the Rays trailing 2-0 in the third inning, and was tasked with keeping Tampa Bay in the game. For the most part, he did, but he did allow a two-run homer to Gleyber Torres. Still, Yarbrough showed the stuff and command that makes him more than capable of being successful as a starter.

During the regular season, Yarbrough went 1-4 with a 3.56 ERA (55.2-IP, 22-ER) in 11 apps (9 starts). He allowed 2 runs (or fewer) in seven of his 11 apps this season, including four scoreless outings, but yielded 4 runs (or more) in his other 4 appearances. In his career, Yarbrough is 23-5 with a 3.63 ERA (183.2-IP, 74-ER) in 48 appearances in relief.

Why Bet on Houston? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

This marks the Astros’ fourth straight trip to the ALCS and their eighth appearance overall in a League Championship Series (1980, 1986, 2004-05, 2017-20). They are the third team in AL history and the fifth team in Major League history to advance to four straight LCS (since 1969). The other clubs to do so: the Cardinals (2011-14), Yankees (1998-2001), Braves (1991-99) and A’s (1971-75)

The Astros also altered their lineup a bit for Game 2. Outfielder Kyle Tucker hit sixth against southpaw Blake Snell in Game 1, but he moved up to fifth against right-hander Charlie Morton. Carlos Correa moved down to the No. 6 spot while Josh Reddick started in right field after being on the bench for Game 1. The full lineup for the Astros: George Springer CF, Jose Altuve 2B, Michael Brantley DH, Alex Bregman 3B, Tucker LF, Correa SS, Yuli Gurriel 1B, Reddick RF, Martin Maldonado C.

The Astros matched the Marlins by using an MLB-high 15 rookie pitchers in 2020. They have nine rookie pitchers on their ALCS roster and have used six rookies so far this postseason, who have combined for a solid 2.39 ERA (7ER/26.1IP) in 17 appearances (two starts).

It’s young Jose Urquidy on Tuesday. He was tagged for four runs in 4 1/3 innings by the A’s in Game 3 of the ALDS. All of the runs came on solo homers.

Urquidy began the 2020 campaign on the Injured List due to a positive test for COVID-19. He was away from Major League club during all of 2020 Summer Camp. Urquidy was activated from the Injured List on Sept. 5 and went on to post a 2.73 ERA (9ER/29.2IP) across 5 starts. He held the opposition to 2 runs-or-fewer in each of his 5 starts this season. The Mexican ended the season with 4 consecutive quality starts, the longest quality start streak of his career. He ranked 7th in the AL in September ERA (2.73) and 7th in September WHIP (1.01).

Expert PredictionAstros 5, Rays 4 

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