No player competing in the 2023 American League Championship Series embodies the Lone Star State more than Astros closer Ryan Pressly, who was born in Dallas, has the state tattooed on his back and rarely can be seen without wearing a cowboy hat. boots from the field.
Heck, Pressly’s wife, Kat, is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who grew up in Houston. It doesn’t get more Texas than that.
However, when it comes to Space City vs. Metroplex, there’s no question where Pressly’s loyalties lie — he’s hoping his Astros end the Rangers’ season in the coming days in an ALCS-sized game in Texas. The Astros will have home-field advantage in the best-of-seven series, starting with Game 1 on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.
“It’s going to be rowdy, but I think the crowd will be 50-50 when we’re there (in Arlington),” Pressly said. “It’s fun. I’m excited to get back out there and play baseball.”
If the Astros are to get past the Rangers and advance to their third straight World Series — and fifth in seven years — Pressly will be called upon to get big outs, but he’s proven he’s ready for the challenge in October .
Pressly’s 13 career postseason saves are the fifth most in Major League history, trailing Mariano Rivera (42), Kenley Jansen (20), Brad Lidge (18) and Dennis Eckersley (15). No one has saved more postseason games without a blown save than Pressly, who was 6-for-6 in last year’s World Series title run.
“I think it’s just a game,” Pressly said. “You try to keep things as simple as you can when you’re out there. You don’t want to try to do too much or overthink things. It’s the same game, as I said earlier this year. There are just a lot of people watching.”
Pressly, 34, was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 out of Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, and would have attended Texas Tech had he not signed with Boston. He began his professional career as a starter before switching to relief. He pitched five seasons in the Twins’ bullpen before being acquired by the Astros in 2018 to bolster their bullpen.
In his first game in Houston on July 28, 2018, Rougned Odor of the Rangers hit him for a homer.
“I was like, ‘I could have done it in Minnesota,'” Pressly said.
The Astros were impressed with Pressly’s spin rate on his curveball, as well as his fastball. He changed how he used his pitches and moved into the closer role in 2020. He became one of the most dominant and accomplished relief pitchers in baseball.
Pressly notched his 100th save with the Astros on July 25 against the Rangers, becoming the fourth pitcher in club history to reach that mark. Only Billy Wagner (225), Dave Smith (199) and Lidge (123) have more saves in an Astros uniform.
“Like my dad always said, ‘Just keep your head down, and then when you look at the end of your career, you’ll see what you’ve accomplished,'” Pressly said. “I never thought I would reach 100 saves. I mean, you have to be good for a long time to do that. And you’re on a team like this, and they just win. And then you have the staff that surrounds you, and it makes you that much better. I never thought I’d get there, but I’m glad I did.
Since joining Houston, Pressly has been named to a pair of All-Star teams and posted the longest scoreless-appearance streak in Major League history — 40 games — from Aug. 15, 2018, to May 24, 2019. scoreless in 36 of his 43 career postseason appearances with the Astros, including the final three outs in the clincher against the Phillies in last year’s World Series.
“There’s no greater feeling in the world and seeing every single one of your teammates (rush) to you to celebrate,” Pressly said. “So I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life, especially seeing the ball in (Kyle) Tucker’s glove, too. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Earlier this year, Pressly reached 10 years of service and was awarded — what else? — a pair of custom-made boots. The boots feature an Astros logo on the front of one boot and a Twins logo on the front of the other. The back of the boots feature the 2019 and ’21 All-Star Game logos.
“I wear boots probably about 99 percent of the time,” he said. “It’s very special to get something like that. I don’t think I’ll wear it, obviously. This is something I have in my man cave, and hopefully more people will ask about them when they get home.