Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Off-Day yesterday for everyone in baseball except the Brewers, and Walker Buehler. Astros/Red Sox at Minute Maid Park at 4:09pm Central today. I'm actually okay with the afternoon start time, as the Dodgers are playing a home game in Game 4. No Start Time Shenanigans from me today!

*Since the beginning of the 2017 postseason, the Astros are 10-1 at home in the playoffs, the lone loss coming in Game 4 of the World Series, with a +30 run differential.

*As we go back to the simulation sites, it's worth remembering that FiveThirtyEight's Game Prediction is 0-2: They thought the Red Sox would win G1 and the Astros would win G2. That said:

-FiveThirtyEight still gives the Astros a 58-42 edge in the ALCS, with a 55-45 nod in Game 3.
-FanGraphs has the Astros at 54-46 over Boston in the series.

*It's not terribly surprising that Dallas Keuchel isn't a fan of Bullpenning. Keuchel:
I think the 25-man roster, maybe a 30-man roster, throughout the course of 162 games is an ancient artifact now, where teams are more willing to just do whatever it takes, no matter the cost. But I don't like that.

In that link, we find Alex Cora talking about Alex Bregman going 0x3 with 6BB and an HBP. Cora:
So far we keep throwing to the edges, and he's not swinging. He's taking his walks. But we'll stay with our game plan. We still are attacking him the way we feel. And I'm not saying, 'So far, so good,' but there's not too much damage done from that spot right now.

It will be up to the guys behind Bregman to drive him in and score some runs.

*Mark Feinsand has the three keys for the Astros to win Game 3.

*Jose Altuve may start at DH in Game 3. Hinch, on Altuve and his knee:
We're going to play three days in a row here. So I talked to him about that, and just for him to continue to give us what he's got. And he's fine. Obviously it didn't hurt his swing in the ninth inning [Sunday night]. He's able to be a productive player. But he's battling it a little bit.



*The Athletic's Rustin Dodd: A.J. Hinch, once ahead of his time, is fueled by the lessons of the past. History, FTW.

*Here's a good Tyler Kepner article on Dallas "Kuechel," which is East Coast Headline Writer-speak for "Keuchel." (Kepner got his name right in the article. The headline guy? Come on, dude.)

*For as much as J.D. Martinez doesn't want to talk about the Astros, he sure does bring them up a lot.

*Alex Bregman and his connection to Ted Williams.

*Going to any of the games this week? Parking is going to suck.

*NY Times' Billy Witz has a good article on bullpen-changer Ryan Pressly. Luhnow:
Knowing that A.J. doesn't have to go grab our fifth starter and hope he can get three or four innings of a close playoff game, yeah, that gives me a lot of comfort this year compared to last. 

*The Toronto Sun: "Dynastic" Astros a tough out.

*Washington Post: The Astros take good pitchers and make them better.

*Jerome Solomon: Roberto Osuna is ready to do his part for the Astros.

*Speaking of Osuna, the Astros have made a long-term commitment to work with a dozen local and state agencies that advocate for victims of domestic violence.

*A Musical Selection:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

Boy oh boy that was not the best Astros game I've ever watched. But, even with all of the mistakes, Alex Bregman was still about 2 feet away from tying the game in the 9th. Lucky enough for us, I truly doubt that we play that sloppily again. The upcoming three games being at home probably won't hurt either.

-Despite Gerrit Cole's less-than-ideal outing, he still outpitched Price.
Cole: 6 IP/6 H/4 ER/2 BB/5 K
Price: 4.2 IP/5 H/4 ER/4 BB/4 K

(Between you and me, if we decide to use some common sense, Cole gave up 5 ERs. If the pitcher causes the error, it should count as an earned run. Who wrote this rule?)

-Astros hitters in the first three innings: 5-9, 4 RBIs
-Astros hitters in the last six innings: 2-18, 1 RBI

-Alex Bregman has a borderline ridiculous statline of .000/.700/.000 in the ALCS so far.

-Unfun Fact - This was the first time a team has won a postseason game with David Price starting on the mound.

-Another Unfun Fact: Martin Maldonado allowed two official passed balls tonight. He has had 13 during the entire regular season and only 3 of those with the Astros.

-Yet Again With The Unfun Facts: Marwin wasn't doing great after hitting the straight up metal wall Boston decided to drop into their stadium.

-AJ's full postgame presser can be found here, where he talks the passed balls, Cora, Bregman, and more.

Well, lets check into the predictions:

-FiveThirtyEight:
Game 3 chance to win (Eovaldi vs. Keuchel): 55%

Pre-Game 2 chance to win the series: 70%
Current chance to win the series: 59%

Current chance to win the World Series: 38%

-FanGraphs:
Change to win the series: 52.4%

Chance to win the World Series: 35.2%

-Charlie Morton has been officially announced as the game 4 starter. He has not pitched in a MLB game since September 30th.

-A lot of teams who need a manager want Astros brand new bench coach Joe Espada.

-Verlander is not thinking about retirement. Verlander also immediately got better once joining the Astros, and Ted Berg dives in to tell us how.

-Here's your daily article of just how good Alex Bregman has been.

-Here's your daily article asking if the 2018 Houston Astros are the best team in franchise history.

-How dumping Ken Giles transformed the Astros bullpen.

-Astros and Texans fans tailgated together, and somehow the Texans were the team that delivered.

On This Day in Baseball History
-In 1892, Reds pitcher Bumpus Jones throws a no-hitter against Pittsburgh in his first career start. It was also the latest date a no-hitter was thrown in an MLB season.

-In 1964, Mickey Mantle played his final postseason game, hitting his 18th career postseason home run.

In 1982, Cardinals rookie Willie McGee became the third rookie to hit two home runs in the same postseason game.

In 1986, the Mets defeated the Astros in the longest postseason game ever played (16 innings, 4 hrs. 42 minutes) to advance to the World Series. Reminder, you don't have to click the link.

In 1988, Kirk Gibson hit a home run that you might have seen before.











Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Interesting that the Astros were favored to win the Series, but FiveThirtyEight gave the G1 advantage to Chris Sale. Astros erupt for a couple of key homers and get solid starting pitching from Verlander, and take a 1-0 lead on the Red Sox. It was a weird game.

*There have been 36 LCS since 2000. Of those the team that won Game 1 went on to win the Series 25 times. The 11 who lost G1 and still won the Series:

-2013 Boston Red Sox
-2012 St. Louis Cardinals
-2010 Texas Rangers
-2008 Boston Red Sox
-2006 New York Mets
-2005 Anaheim Angels
-2005 Houston Astros
-2004 Boston Red Sox
-2003 New York Yankees
-2002 Anaheim Angels
-2000 New York Yankees

Jayson Stark: The team that won Game 1 went on to win 111 of 173 best-of-seven series.

*That G1 win shifted the FiveThirtyEight simulations to a 70-30 Astros series win. The Astros are 53-47 in G2.

FanGraphs has the ALCS at 68.7-31.3 Astros.

*Houston is 5-1 in Game 1s under A.J. Hinch. McTaggart notes that the Astros are the 2nd team in history to hit a home run in 13 consecutive postseason games (the 2001-2004 Astros did it, too). Hinch:
Mistakes happen at all times. But when mistakes happen in the playoffs and the momentum starts to shift to the other side, that's what you want to do. When you get an extra out, take advantage of it. 

*Through four postseason games, the Astros' pitching staff has held the Indians/Red Sox to 0x9 with runners in scoring position.

*Justin Verlander: 5IP, 2H/2ER, 6K:4BB.

Verlander had not walked four batters in a game all year. In 24 career postseason starts, Justin Verlander walked four batters for the 3rd time. Verlander's teams are 3-0 when he walks four batters. Weird. Verlander's teams are 15-9 when he starts a postseason game. The Astros are 7-1 in the postseason when Verlander starts.

Verlander's two runs came in the 5th when he walked three batters, including walking in a run, and threw two wild pitches, one that scored another run and tied the game at 2-2. Verlander:
That inning I had kind of lost my feel a bit. Couldn't point a finger to why. The tying run scoring was disappointing...But once that happens, then you've got to reset and not relinquish the lead. 

More Verlander:
To be able to get out of that inning and keep us tied, not relinquish the lead, that was, for me, the ballgame.


*Lance McCullers threw 13 pitches - 11 curves and two changeups. Eight were strikes, and he rung up two batters.

*Chris Sale allowed 1H/2ER, 5K:4BB.

Chris Sale had walked seven Astros in his 63.2 career IP before walking four last night.
Chris Sale had walked three batters in 16 career postseason IP coming into last night.

Sale:
I still like our chances. We've got [Price] on the mound and we got a bunch of guys in here that are fired up over tonight. We're not gonna hang our heads in the locker room. We're not gonna give up. This is the time when we kick in gear and start fighting. 

*Josh Reddick hit his first postseason home run since Game 3 of the 2013 ALDS - a span of 127 PAs. Reddick:
We came in here knowing we had to take at least one out of here, so now we have the chance to go back to our place and hopefully clinch it out. Winning Game 1 was a huge step for us.

*Yuli Gurriel hit a 3-run home run, his first HR/3RBI game since GAME 5 OF THE 2017 WORLD SERIES. It's the 3rd 3RBI postseason game of his career. Gurriel has three hits this postseason, two of them for extra-bases.

*Carlos Correa was 1x3 with 2BB and the game's go-ahead RBI. Correa has 3K:5BB this postseason. Correa:
That was huge. It stopped their momentum, which came from scoring two runs the previous inning. It was huge, but most importantly, it gives me a lot of confidence, which is key.

Correa has 22 postseason RBI, most by any player in MLB history before turning 25 years old.

*Alex Bregman was 0x1 with 3BB, HBP and two runs scored. He's the first player to reach base four times in a playoff game without a hit since David Ortiz in the 2013 World Series. Bregman's 2018 postseason: .500/.737/1.200, 1K:7BB.

Jake Kaplan: Alex Bregman got it done by any means necessary.

*George Springer extended his postseason hitting streak to 10 games, tying Lance Berkman (2001-2004) for a club record. Since going 0x4 with 4K in G1 of the 2017 World Series, Springer is hitting .429/.510/1.071 in the postseason. Springer:
This is a clubhouse that believes in every guy. Doesn't matter who gets the job done, just get the job done. Pass the torch on to the next guy. I know that goes the same way with the guys in the bullpen, the starting staff, the guys who are playing and then the guys who come into the game. It's 'How can I be productive for the guys?' And it's a great thing to watch.

Verlander:
This team finds a way. In big moments, they show up. From top to bottom, nobody cares who the hero is as long as we have a hero.

*Game 2: Cole vs. Price, and the pressure's on Price. It's a 6:09pm Central start.

*Jeff Passan: The Astros look like they're on the cusp of a dynasty. Passan:
The game was close, closer than it deserved to be, and then it wasn't. Because just like that, every aspect of the Astros' excellence - hitting, fielding and pitching - can activate, and when it does, there's no better team in the world, not even the 108-win Red Sox.

*USA Today's Bob Nightengale: The Astros will be hard to beat, playing like this.


*Ronaldo is an icon of corruption in sports.

*A Musical Selection:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday Morning ALCS Hot Links

The last time the Astros had four days off was the All-Star Break and all they did in the next seven games was....go 3-4 nevermind that's a bad one to start with. The Astros got some rest, hopefully 'Litos enjoyed his time in the cryogenic chamber. Here we go. Tonight is the beginning of the 1st postseason series in which both teams had 103+ wins since 1942.

*The Astros are 4-1 in Game 1s under A.J. Hinch. The lone loss was to the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series and they went on to WIN THE WHOLE DAMN THING.

*The Astros are 5-8 in Road Playoff Games under A.J. Hinch. Houston has also won the World Series.

*Chris Sale vs. Houston, regular season: 5-2, 54IP, 35H/11ER, 71K:6BB, 1.83 ERA / 0.76 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, 1st five regular season starts (2012-May 2016): 41IP, 23H/3ER, 47K:4BB, 0.66 ERA / 0.66 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, last two regular season starts (2016/18): 13IP, 12H/8ER, 15K:2BB, 5.54 ERA / 1.08 WHIP

Chris Sale vs. Houston, playoffs: 0-2, 9.2IP, 12K:1BB, 8.38 ERA / 1.45 WHIP.

*FanGraphs has it at 54-46 for an Astros ALCS win, FiveThirtyEight at 52-48.

*Big roster news of the day was that Will Harris was left off the ALCS roster, while Hector Rondon and Joe Smith were added. Myles Straw was left off the roster, as well. Harris:
I'm disappointed, man. I'm a competitor. I've been in this organization now for four years and I've felt like I've had the best four years of my career since I've been here. This is why we play, to pitch in the postseason. It is what it is. I'm proud of the year I had, I'm proud of the way I pitched, I'm proud of the way I've handled myself, so we'll see what happens going forward. 

Josh James made the bullpen and his 2.2IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB appearance at Fenway on September 8 certainly didn't hurt his chances.

Hinch:
Hector and Joe are both very valuable relievers - very high-end relievers for us. You just have to pick a group of guys and we're going with the guys who we feel are the best matchup for the different looks at different parts of the batting order. Not an easy exercise. 

Will Harris got the news on the 3rd anniversary of his 0.2IP, 4H/4R (3ER), 1K:0BB outing in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS. Harris pitched in 61 games in 2018 and had a scoreless outing in 49 of them. In the 12 outings in which he allowed an earned run, six of them were 2+ ER games, including one against the Red Sox in June in which he allowed 2HR in the 7th inning of a 5-4 loss. Harris allowed 1H/1ER, 0K:1BB to Cleveland in G3 - the first ER he had allowed since August 14.

*Myles Straw was pragmatic about his seven-game break:
I had a feeling. I wasn't too shocked. I want to be out there with the guys and I want to compete. It is what it is, but it's whatever puts the team in line to win. I'm here for these guys to win and go as far as we can.

Myles Straw may have appeared in 11 career games in Houston, but he's already the 2018 Astros County Good Teammate of the Year award-winner, an award which began all the way back to about ten minutes ago.

*Correa says his back feels as good as it has since coming off the DL. I bet the 3-run homer helped.

In that article we find that bench coach Joe Espada has interviewed with Arlington while Anaheim has expressed interest, as well. Makes sense for two AL West teams to get an Astros coach

*

*MLB.com's Mike Petriello: How Astros' analytics improved their starting pitchers. I'm not even going to pull anything from this. It's orgasmic. Go read it. It's free.

*The word of the day was "compete."

*The Athletic's Eno Sarris: Three numbers that could define the ALCS.

*Justin Verlander wants to add to his Hall of Fame resume.

*Alex Cora did not see the Astros' acquisition of Martin Maldonado coming.


*Jake Marisnick ain't skeered of the Green Monster.

*Lance McCullers is having to embrace a new routine in the bullpen.

*Joe Posnanski: Does the ALCS feature two of the best baseball teams of all-time?

*FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan: Baseball's most unhittable pitch belongs to Ryan Pressly.

*True story: I packed up everything I owned into a Honda Civic Hatchback three days after graduating from college and moved to Nashville. I moved back to Texas nine months later because the girl I've been married to for the last 15+ years decided we should probably start a serious relationship. I convinced a friend from college that I wrote all of Uncle Kracker's songs. So everytime I hear that Follow Me song, I think of that, and laugh every time. Then we moved to Nashville from Cooperstown and lived there for 5+ years before...moving back to Texas. So, having spent a large portion of my adult life in Nashville, I enjoyed reading about the Nashville ties in the ALCS.

*Former Astros Great Mark Loretta played for all four LCS teams.

*The Ramgers interviewed Joe Girardi yesterday.

*In case you missed it: Ben Reiter, of Astroball fame, got an interview with Chris Correa, currently serving out a 46-month sentence for hacking the Astros' database.

*A musical selection:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

Good morning, happy Friday, and welcome to The Post ALDS-Pre ALCS Hot Links Part 3 of 4. Not a lot has changed since we've last met, as we are still waiting for baseball to come back. It has been a long week and I am not ready for the offseason to start.

MLB.com posted some "fun facts" about all the potential upcoming postseason matchups, but honestly I'm just going to tell you now, Fun Fact #1 is "iF tHe BrEwErS aNd AsTrOs PlAy EaCh OtHeR, yOu WoN't KnOw WhIcH tEaM iS iN wHiCh LeAgUe!" If you don't want to read it because of this joke, I get it. If you can push through this joke, it isn't too bad.

Good Guy Marwin Gonzalez was up to his old tricks. Here's my Good Guy Marwin Gonzalez story: When I was down in Houston on vacation, he was doing an autograph signing and they had some thing that was like "first X amount of people for sure will get to meet Marwin." I got there late because I don't live in Houston. In fact, I don't live anywhere close to Houston, so I got there late because I didn't know where I was going and I was definitely not in the first X amount of people. He ended up staying and signing things for everyone who showed up to that session. It was supposed to be an hour long autograph session that started at noon, I met him around 1:15, and there was still probably another 20-30 people behind me. We might have some superstars, perhaps even some future Hall of Famers, but Marwin Gonzalez will always be my favorite Astro.

Jim Bowden reports that Hector Rondon is expected to be added onto the ALCS roster, potentially removing Evan Gattis for the upcoming series.

Here is an excellent article about Martin Maldonado and his love of being a catcher.

When somebody asked Tito if Jose Ramirez killed the Indians hopes of winning the series, he was angry.

Jake Marisnick talks about the Green Monster and how Minute Maid prepares them for playing with it.

Pick up your new Alex Bregman-themed T-Shirt.

Here is an inside look at how Maldonado and Osuna have been integrated and accepted into this Astros team.

Everybody loves George Springer.

You still have time to buy a mattress from Mattress Mack and get it free when the Astros win it all again.

Joe West is our crew chief, which is better than Angel Hernandez who is not umpiring anywhere.

Chris Paul talks about how the Astros will beat you.

Carlos Correa has a wedding date set. Letting you know now before you see it on Good Morning America.

Here are 13 celebrities to look out for at Minute Maid Park this year because for some reason I decided right after making that Chris Paul link that I wanted the rest of this blog post to look like the E! News front page.

Justin Verlander on how he stays in shape and what a typical date night looks like with Kate Upton YES I AM STICKING TO THIS BIT I GUESS THIS IS JUST WHAT THIS BLOG HAS BECOME NOW.

You may not realize it, but Charlie Morton hits a lot of batters.

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1907, Mordecai Brown, a man who had three fingers on his throwing hand, shut out the Detroit Tigers and won the Cubs the 1907 World Series.

In 1929, the A's were down 8-0 and went on to have a 10 run 7th to win the game with a 10-8 final.

In 1949, Vin Scully did his first ever radio broadcast as Maryland University played Boston University at football at Fenway Park.

In 1982, Paul Molitor became the first player in World Series history to collect five hits in one game.

In 2005, a controversial call decided the White Sox/Angels ALCS Game 2 as A.J. Pierzynski reached first base on a dropped third strike. Pierzynski was pinch run for, scored, and the White Sox won the game 2-1. 

In 2012, the Cardinals score 4 runs in the 9th off of Drew Storen after being down to their final strike to win the NLDS 9-7.

In 2015, the Cubs became the first team to ever hit 6 home runs in a postseason game.