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#pounditSunday, November 28, 2021

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier thinks Astros are not as tough as last year

Kevin Kiermaier

Kevin Kiermaier is looking forward to another shot at the Houston Astros.

The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder voiced confidence in his team’s upcoming ALCS matchup against Houston on Saturday. Kiermaier noted that the Rays had gotten better since last season while Houston’s rotation had taken a hit.

“We’re better this year than we were last year,” said Kiermaier, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com. “They have a lot of talent, but they don’t have Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander … I like how we match up against them. I think it’s going to be a great series.”

The Rays and Astros met last year in the ALDS, and the latter won in five games. Since then, Cole signed with the New York Yankees and Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery. But the Astros still have All-Stars like Lance McCullers and Zack Greinke in the rotation. Framber Valdez also emerged as an ace this season, and Houston’s bats remain a force to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, the Rays are feeling confident after winning their division and knocking off the rival Yankees in the ALDS. They are getting big boosts from less-heralded players such as Brandon Lowe and Mike Brosseau and overall have a very deep team. Tampa Bay may also have a personal axe to grind with the Astros this series.

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