ALDS GAME 2 POST-MORTEM
Astros 8, Red Sox 2
I can think of no other perfect microcosm of this series than John Farrell feeling like he needed to intentionally walk Altuve twice to pitch to the guy who had already hit a two-run homer in the game (Correa). It worked – once – but certainly shows the unenviable situation the Astros have put the Red Sox in. For the series the Astros have hit six home runs and every slot in the lineup has at least two hits, everyone in the top half of the lineup has an OPS over 1.000, and the bottom half of the lineup has driven in 1/4 of the runs scored. In the 6th inning Boston watched the Astros double their score on three consecutive swings of the bat (Marwin scoring on Betts’s dropped ball, Correa’s two-run double, Gattis’s single off the scoreboard).
It must be a very helpless feeling. I can say that because, as an Astros fans, I am well acquainted with that feeling.
Lastly, let’s talk about Angel Hernandez.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that Hernandez was predictably terrible calling balls and strikes, because you could have instantly known that just by seeing his name in the box score. Inside and outside pitches off the plate were a total crapshoot. On Gattis’s walk in the 3rd inning Hernandez was the only person in the goddamn zip code that thought the 3-0 pitch was going to be called a ball: Gattis just stood there and was about to start digging in for the next pitch, the crowd didn’t react for several seconds, and the announcers weren’t too sure. Of course, the pitch was a ball – four inches off the outside corner – except when it wasn’t a number of times in previous ABs for both teams.
I continue to remain gobsmacked that this consistently awful fuckhead gets paid to do what he does and is rewarded for it by getting paid to do it in playoff games. It’s almost enough to make one want to take a stance against all unionized labor. At least nowadays his deleterious impact on the game can be mitigated by replay when he’s umpiring in the field, but there is nothing to protect our national pastime from him when he’s wearing a chest protector.
ALDS GAME 3 – HOU leads 2-0
Sunday, October 8, 1:30pm CDT – Fenway Park
Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00) vs. Doug Fister (5-9, 4.88)
Peacock makes his postseason debut in what has easily been his best major league season. He has also easily been the Astros’ most consistent starter in 2017. Since being called upon to start games, his worst month (August) produced a 4.45 ERA, which is hardly terrible and the team still won two of his five starts. July and September were his best months, both statistically very similar to each other. In September, though, he allowed fewer walks and hits in more innings for a very impressive 0.893 WHIP, by far his best monthly WHIP of the season as a starter.
Until the end of the regular season Peacock hadn’t pitched against the Red Sox since 2013. As far as I’m concerned the best indicator of how this game might go is Peacock’s game at Fenway on September 28. Both teams still had something to play for (Boston hadn’t clinched the AL East yet, Astros were hunting the AL top seed). Despite only two strikeouts (nearly a season low) Peacock held the Sox to two runs over five innings; he could have worked more but Hinch let the bullpen take over and the Astros wound up winning 12-2. He will be well rested for Game 3.
Fister is appearing in his fifth postseason after four straight appearances with the Tigers and Nationals from 2011-2014. His playoff record is pretty solid: in eight starts (nine total appearances) he is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA. Then again, he was a better pitcher in 2011-2014 than he is now. In 2011-2014 he amassed a 16.7 WAR and his season ERA never surpassed 3.67. From 2015 on he has just been a cumulative 0.2 WAR player with his ERA trending toward the high 4’s. This season he didn’t pitch until late June, and he stumbled down the stretch with a 5.58 ERA in September.
Houston had a hand in that September ERA, getting three runs off of him last Friday in 5.1 innings and handing him the loss. Bregman did especially well, going 3×3 against Fister while scaling the Green Monster for the second game in a row. With Fister being an Astro in 2016 and then in the National League in 2014-2015, you have to go back to 2013 to find any other work of his against the Astros, although it’s a slightly different story with individual hitters (see below).
Select pitcher/batter matchups:
Pedroia vs. Peacock: 8 AB, .375/.500/.375
Moreland vs. Peacock: 13 AB, .154/.214/.385
For pretty much everyone else, just go check 9/28’s box score
Altuve vs. Fister: 7 AB, .429/.429/.429
Beltran vs. Fister: 13 AB, .385/.429/.692
Reddick vs. Fister: 17 AB, .294/.294/.353
Maybin vs. Fister: 14 AB, .286/.375/.500
Gattis vs. Fister: 8 AB, .250/.333/.250
Marwin vs. Fister: 7 AB, 0-fer
Houston – Hinch has had the luxury of getting almost everyone’s feet wet and only Devenski has pitched back-to-back games. With Saturday’s off day it stands to reason that the entire bullpen, with the possible exception of Devenski, will be available for Game 3. McCullers is also available if needed.
Boston – The Red Sox had to use seven pitchers in Game 2, including 38 pitches from David Price over 2.2 innings. Price threw 40 pitches in 2.2 relief innings on 9/22 and didn’t pitch again until 9/27, so he is probably unavailable for both Fenway games if they are necessary. Austin Maddox threw 49 pitches in Games 1 and 2 and it was only the second time this season he has been used in back-to-back games. The first time – with ten fewer pitches – he needed two days rest, so he is probably unavailable for Game 3 at the very least.