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#pounditTuesday, May 11, 2021

Astros embracing underdog mentality in playoffs

Lance McCullers Jr

The Houston Astros barely qualified for the expanded 2020 MLB playoffs with their 29-31 record, but they certainly look like they belong. It was not that long ago that they were considered the best team in baseball, but the Astros are now embracing the underdog role.

The Astros swept the Minnesota Twins in the best-of-three Wild Card round and took a 1-0 series lead over the Oakland A’s in the ALDS with a 10-5 win on Monday night. Lance McCullers Jr., who threw four innings and was knocked around a bit for eight hits and four earned runs, said after the game that the Astros are fine with no one believing they’re a threat.

Houston still has plenty of big names on its roster like Zack Greinke, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. It’s not as if they’re the Tampa Bay Rays, but McCullers was likely referring to the team losing Justin Verlander to an injury and Gerrit Cole in free agency. The Astros also have a young and inexperienced bullpen that has done a solid job in the playoffs thus far.

Of course, the Astros are not going to be the type of underdog fans root for. They already caught a massive break with fans not being allowed in ballparks this season to boo them, and opposing teams are clearly still holding grudges.

Many people have jumped to the conclusion that the Astros fell off offensively this season because they’re no longer stealing signs, which may be true. None of that will matter if they make another deep postseason run.

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