WORLD SERIES GAME 7 POST-MORTEM
Astros 5, Dodgers 1
Thank you, Astros.
With a bunch of missed opportunities on offense – second and third with no outs in the 5th, 0x6 with RISP, 8 LOB – the Astros needed a truly heroic outing from Justin Verlander, and they got it… for five innings. That he lost a 1-0 lead in the 6th is hardly his fault.
Nobody said this would be easy.
Wednesday, November 1, 7:20pm CDT – Dodger Stadium
Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 2.95) vs. Yu Darvish (2-1, 4.15)
The script is already written. The Dodgers have forced a Game 7 and will now cakewalk their way to a title at home. The Astros don’t stand a chance.
If the Astros can muster anything close to the kind of success they had against Darvish in Game 3, and if McCullers comes up huge like he has all postseason, they have a fighting chance. And Game 7 promises to be a “kitchen sink” type game for both teams if the score is close late.
May the best team win, but seriously, fuck the Dodgers.
Game 3 lines:
McCullers: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K
Darvish: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K
One way or another, this will be OWA’s final preview of the season. One way or another, about 32 hours from the time of this writing I will go back to being a productive member of the workforce. I can resume being a decent spouse. I will rediscover the concept of halfway-adequate parenting. And, as The Void consumes us, I will have to start exercising again without postseason baseball to keep my heart rate up.
While I look forward to these things, I’m going to miss the shitload of fun it’s been watching and writing about what is already unquestionably the best season in Astros history. Thanks for hanging around and humoring my sometimes-insightful, infrequently-funny musings on starting pitching matchups and all the other bullshit that goes into your garden variety preview.
See you in 2018.
Good evening. Or morning, or whatever the hell time of day it is right now. Chances are, if you’re reading this then one of two things is true:
In either case, I won’t waste your time with unoriginal analysis. I’ll just leave you with the Fangraphs win probability graph of one for the ages.
Tuesday, October 31, 7:20pm CDT – Dodger Stadium
Justin Verlander (4-0, 2.05) vs. Rich Hill (0-0, 2.77)
Verlander on the mound with a chance to end it. In two career postseason starts in a clinching situation, he is 2-0 with 17 scoreless innings. Yes please.
Game 2 lines:
Verlander: 6 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K
Hill: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K
Whether it’s the World Series or a regular season game in April, one hit through eight innings and two hits through nine innings sure sounds like a loss. But damn it, this was a winnable game. The Astros had a lot of hard contact turn into outs but led 1-0 after six with Morton on cruise control. And then the bullpenanigans started.
I really like Hinch as a manager. I think he has mostly managed circles around Roberts in this series, and whichever moves Roberts has made that worked out have largely been due to some combination of superior personnel and luck. But with Morton/McCullers in the ALCS and McCullers/Peacock in Game 3, this game was a prime opportunity to go long with McHugh in relief. Why has Hinch been so reluctant to use McHugh in the postseason? Did McHugh do something behind the scenes to deserve this? Dude was left off the ALDS roster for fucking Tyler White, then pitches four no-hit innings in garbage time in the ALCS, and now is nowhere to be found. It’s the only thing I haven’t liked about Hinch’s managing this postseason.
Even still, Giles… damn. He has taken two losses and a blown save this postseason. If I were managing (and this postseason has showed me that I would probably be terrible at it), Giles has put on his spikes for the last time this season.
Sunday, October 29, 7:20pm CDT – Minute Maid Park
Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 2.96) vs. Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.00)
I know “must win” is an overused cliche when applied to non-elimination games, but the Astros really need to win this game. Stealing one game in LA instead of two is a much more attractive proposition. Keuchel has been excellent at home and the climate will be more favorable, so there is reason for hope.
Game 1 lines:
Kershaw: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 11 K
Keuchel: 6.2 IP , 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K
If you were expecting another tooth-and-nail outing against Yu Darvish, you didn’t get it. The Astros hammered Darvish like they never had before, jumping to an early lead and forcing Roberts to burn through five of his relievers starting in the 2nd.
McCullers looked like he was coming unraveled in the third inning, until he got a whale of a double-play ball to bail him out. It helps when your first baseman is not actually a first baseman. Then in comes Peacock to shut in the 6th and, despite allowing McCullers’s runners to score (including on some bad luck), proceeded to shut down the Dodgers in what turned into an all-time great relief performance in World Series history.
And, despite the disappointment of watching Springer’s fly ball to center falling just a few feet short of a grand slam, this is actually a good thing. As much devastation as the city of Houston has gone through the last few months, it didn’t need an earthquake on its hands.
Saturday, October 28, 7:20pm CDT – Minute Maid Park
Alex Wood (0-1, 5.79) vs. Charlie Morton (1-1, 6.23)
Wood turned in an excellent 2017 season, setting career marks in ERA (2.72) and wins (he went 16-3 on the year). He was lights out out of the gate and owned a 1.56 ERA right after the All-Star break. He had two brief stints on the DL, one from late May to early June and another in late August, for shoulder issues. One byproduct of the Dodgers’ postseason success has been that Wood has only made one appearance, when he took the Dodgers’ only loss in Game 4 of the NLCS. He allowed three runs – all solo homers – in 4.2 innings while punching out seven.
Wood only has one career appearance against the Astros, which came in 2014 when he was with the Braves. He threw a three-hit shutout over seven innings at Minute Maid Park, but Springer and Altuve are the only current Houston hitters that saw him that day.
You have to figure that Hinch is looking for another five or so solid innings from Morton, who is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA lifetime in two starts against the Dodgers. If they get anything close to what they got from him in Game 7 of the ALCS, I have to figure McHugh will be waiting to take the ball most or all of the rest of the way.
Select pitcher/batter matchups:
Ethier vs. Morton: 5 AB, .600/.667/1.200
Utley vs. Morton: 10 AB, .500/.545/1.000
Grandal vs. Morton: 5 AB, .400/.400/.400
Only Altuve, Springer, and Reddick have ever faced Wood. They are a combined 1×10, Springer owning the lone hit.
Through seven innings the Astros simply looked snakebit again.
Until they didn’t.
And then, a little while later, it looked like the type of game the Astros – not specifically the 2017 Astros, mind you, but The Houston Astros Baseball Club – would lose.
Until it wasn’t. As both teams drove the ball with authority in the late innings – especially in extras, in which five of the World Series’ 22 all-time extra-inning home runs were hit – Houston did it just a little better and outlasted the Dodgers for their first ever win of a World Series game.
It was especially refreshing to see Springer break out of his funk, obviously highlighted by his 11th inning two-run homer that ended up being the game-winner. It’s also good to see the guys get some good hacks in on the Dodger bullpen.
For funsies, go check out Fangraphs’s win probability chart for this game.
Also, totally called this one. Sort of.
Friday, October 27, 7:09pm CDT – Minute Maid Park
Yu Darvish (2-0, 1.59) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (0-0, 2.08)
Darvish ended his season as pretty much the same pitcher after being dealt to LA. Before his last start as a stRanger (in which he gave up 10 runs in just 3.2 innings) he had a 3.44 ERA in the AL, and closed the regular season with a 3.44 ERA in the NL and gave up home runs at roughly the same clip, although his K:BB ratio improved a bit after going west. Darvish has two one-run games (each run scoring on a home run) under his belt this postseason, a five-inning game against the Diamondbacks and a six-plus inning game in Chicago. Darvish can be hit in the postseason, having allowed four home runs to the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the 2016 ALDS.
As a former division foe, Darvish is a known quantity for the Astros and they have had varying levels of success against him. This year Darvish faced them twice, the first time losing a 7-1 decision in five innings as Correa launched a three-run blast off of him. His second performance against Houston was better, allowing just one run over seven. In three starts in 2016 he was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
Good Lance has been on display this month. He has faced the Dodgers once, at Minute Maid Park in 2015; he took a no-decision after working seven innings and allowing two runs.
Select pitcher/batter matchups:
Forsythe vs. McCullers: 7 AB, .286/.286/.429
Go check the box score from 8/23/2015 for pretty much everyone else
Springer vs. Darvish: 18 AB, .333/.333/.667
Altuve vs. Darvish: 32 AB, .219/.342/.281
Correa vs. Darvish: 15 AB, .200/.200/.467
Beltran vs. Darvish: 10 AB, .200/.273/.200
Reddick vs. Darvish: 25 AB, .160/.185/.240
Marwin vs. Darvish: 14 AB, .143/.200/.143
McCann vs. Darvish: 11 AB, .091/.167/.182