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Rachel G. Bowers

A closer look at the Houston Astros ahead of the ALCS

Justin Verlander recorded 290 strikeouts in the regular season.
Justin Verlander recorded 290 strikeouts in the regular season.(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The defending World Series champion Astros swept the Cleveland Indians in their American League Division Series, and will face the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series starting Saturday.

The Astros went 103-59 in the regular season to win the AL West. Here is a quick scouting report on Houston:

History: The Astros took the season series with Red Sox, 4-3, and defeated them last year in the ALDS, 3-1.

Related: Red Sox-Astros ALCS schedule

Hitters to watch

■   Third baseman Alex Bregman led the Astros with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs in the regular season while slashing .286/.394/.532. Against the Red Sox this season: 7 for 27, two homers, five RBIs, five walks, six strikeouts. ALDS performance: 5 for 9 with two home runs, four RBIs, four walks, one strikeout, and a 1.333 slugging percentage.

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■   Outfielder George Springer was one of three Astros to hit 20 regular season home runs (22) and 70 RBIs (71). He slashed .265/.346/.434 and struck out 122 times, second-most on the team. Against the Red Sox this season: 10 for 27 with two homers, two RBIs, five walks, and 10 Ks. ALDS performance: 6 for 14 with three homers, three RBIs, two strikeouts, and a 1.071 slugging percentage.

■   Fellow outfielder Marwin Gonzalez put together a solid season, blasting 16 homers to go along with 68 RBIs and a team-high 126 strikeouts. Against the Red Sox this season: 2 for 9 with a triple, a homer, two RBIs, and three Ks. ALDS performance: 7 for 13 with two doubles, five RBIs, two strikeouts, and a .692 slugging percentage.

■   Second baseman Jose Altuve led the team in batting average in the regular season at .315 to go along with 44 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, 17 stolen bases (team-high), and a .386 OBP (second on the team). Against the Red Sox this season: 8 for 30 with a home run, a walk, and 10 Ks. ALDS performance: 4 for 14 with one double, one homer, two RBIs, two strikeouts, and a .571 slugging percentage.

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■   Shortstop Carlos Correa slashed .239/.323/.405 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs and struck out 111 times in the regular season. Against the Red Sox this season: 6 for 26 with a double, two homers, four RBIs, two walks, and eight strikeouts. ALDS performance: 1 for 10 with a homer, three RBIs, three walks, and two strikeouts.

Pitchers to watch

■   Ace Justin Verlander led the team in wins (16), strikeouts (290), and innings pitched (214) in the regular season and led starters in ERA (2.52). Against the Red Sox this season: 0-0 in one start, striking out six and allowing two earned runs on three hits over six innings. ALDS performance: In Game 1, Verlander went 5⅓ innings, striking out seven and walking two of the 20 batters he faced while giving up only two runs on two hits. He threw 102 pitches, 70 for strikes.

■   RHP Gerrit Cole started 32 games in the regular season, going 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 276 strikeouts over 200 ⅓ innings. Against the Red Sox this season: 1-0 in two starts, 3.46 ERA, 15 strikeouts, five earned runs on 10 hits over 13 innings. ALDS performance: In Game 2, Cole went seven innings with 12 strikeouts and one earned run on three hits. He threw 98 pitches, 70 for strikes.

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■   LHP Dallas Keuchel went 12-11 in 34 regular season starts with a 3.74 ERA and 153 Ks over 204⅔ innings. Against the Red Sox this season: 0-0 in one start, striking out two and giving up five earned runs on nine hits over six innings. ALDS performance: The Game 3 starter, Keuchel went 5 innings, struck out two, gave up two earned runs (one homer) on four hits. He threw 78 pitches, including 50 strikes.

■   Bullpen: RHP Collin McHugh had a 1.99 ERA and 11.7 strikeouts per nine over 58 appearances (71⅓ innings). In the ALDS, he picked up the win in Game 3, striking out four over two innings . . . RHP Lance McCullers, who started 22 games in the regular season, was used in relief in the ALDS, pitching an inning in Games 1 and 3 . . . RHP Roberto Osuna earned the save in Game 2 of the ALDS, going 1⅓ innings, striking out one and walking another.