After two Friday games, the League Championship series will move toward closure this weekend. The reigning world champion Astro’s looked like toast heading to their cross-state rival Texas Rangers home down 2-0. But after sweeping all three games in Arlington, they took a 3-2 lead home with them to Houston.
The opposite is happening in the National League as the homestanding Phillies swept the first two games in Philadelphia but then lost the first two games in Arizona. Game five is in Phoenix tonight, with a 5:07 PM PDT first pitch.
With the series tied in the National League, both teams will be sending their aces to the mound on Saturday evening in Arizona. The Phillies will start Zack Wheeler, who has started three games already during the 2023 postseason and enters Saturday’s matchup with a 2-0 record, 26 strikeouts in 19 innings and a solid 2.37 ERA. Zac Gallen will take the mound for the Diamondbacks. Gallen is 2-1 with 12 strikeouts in 16 postseason innings and has posted a 4.96 ERA. While his postseason stats are not eye-popping, his regular season stat line has him in contention for the NL Cy Young Award.
The American League has Saturday off, but the pitching matchup is set for Sunday with righthander Nathan Eovaldi taking the mound for the Rangers against lefty Framber Valdez for the Astros. Eovaldi is 3-0 this postseason with a 2.29 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 19 innings. Valdez, on the other hand, is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA and 11 strikeouts in just seven postseason innings in 2023. Both pitchers have extensive postseason experience, and each has a WS ring to his name.
Houston has played better on the road this postseason, winning six games, and losing three, but only winning one of those six at home. While this may seem odd, it’s also a reflection of their regular season home-away splits. In fact, the Astros are the only postseason team to have a losing record at home during the regular season, posting a 39-42 record this year at Minute Maid Park.