Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Any feelings of rage that I had after Games 3-4 have since been replaced with a morbid curiosity. "Surely," I say to myself every inning, "They can't ju- just...not hit for, like, a week, right?" We shall see. It's certainly not time for a postmortem on this season - the Astros only need to win two home games to go to the World Series - but this ALCS ranks up there among the Killer B's in terms of lack of hitting prowess. Yankees lead the ALCS 3-2. Game 6 is tomorrow night with Justin Verlander on the hill.

*It's not so much that the Yankees got to Dallas Keuchel as it is that the Astros' hitters haven't gotten to Yankees pitchers (except for you, David Robertson, the Astros got to you in Game 4.) Keuchel threw 4.2IP, 7H/4ER, 8K:1BB. He allowed two extra-base hits - both doubles. The Yankees are going full Royals on the Astros. 

*Bob Klapisch makes an interesting point:
Maybe the Astros would've been better off saving Dallas Keuchel for Game 6, pushing Justin Verlander to Game 7 and being honest about the three ALCS games in the Bronx this week: they weren't going to win them. Not a single one.

*The Astros were 0x8 with runners in scoring position and left six on base. Through five games in this series the Astros have gone 4x27 (2x23 since Game 1) with runners in scoring position and left 24 men on base. They've scored eight runs in five games, been shut out in two of their last three. And in the one game where the Astros scored more than two runs, the bullpen couldn't hold a three-run lead. That's a pretty damn epic level of team-wide failure. Keuchel:
The most frustrating part is the fact that I didn't pick the guys up and they were looking towards me to kind of saddle up and get this thing back going again. That's a talented group over there and 1 through 9 right now the bats have woken up and it's quite a challenge.

Todd Frazier, who is climbing my Most Hated Player list at, frankly, an impressive pace:
Don't wake that sleeping dog. So we've got to just keep on rolling. They're going to be ready to go. We know that.

As one who has never really shied away from criticizing Keuchel, I feel fully confident in saying this: Game 5 isn't Keuchel's fault. When your offense gives you absolutely no margin for error, how could Keuchel have "picked the guys up?" He could have thrown a Verlander Game - hell, spot 1968 Bob Gibson precisely 0 runs and he can't win the game. 

George Springer is hitting .111/.238/.111
Josh Reddick is hitting .000/.056/.000

That's the first two batters of the game. 

Bregman: .118/.211/.118
Beltran: .083/.083/.167
Marwin: .133/.188/.200
McCann: .000/.167/.000

Only Altuve, Correa, and Gurriel have an average over .125. McCann and Beltran led a team meeting after yesterday's loss. Reports are they went a combined 0x7 with five strikeouts in said meeting. Beltran:
I told them that it wasn't going to be easy. Even though you win the first two games, you have to understand that we're coming here to their home and they've been able to play good games here. That's what they did. They played good games, they pitched well, they were able to come through with guys in scoring position. You have to give them credit, but at the end of the day, we have to be able to, as a team, turn the page and move on to what's ahead of us. 

*The 2017 ALCS Astros are hitting .147/.234/.213 as a team. Here's how that stacks up against the Astros' series hitting of the past:
1997 NLDS: .167/.231/.208 (.439 OPS)
1998 NLDS: .182/.277/.248 (.525 OPS)
1999 NLDS: .220/.311/.340 (.651 OPS)
2001 NLDS: .200/.262/.316 (.678 OPS)

The worst batting average in a seven-game series belongs to the 1966 Dodgers, who hit .142 as a team.

*In today's section of "Uhh, Ya Think?" Magazine, Brian T. Smith says the Astros should be better than this.

*Statcast notes that the batting average on balls hit 95+ mph off the bat is .558. The Astros? .297. That's unlucky.

*13 of the 20 runs the Yankees have scored this series have come with two outs.

*ESPN's Scott Lauber wonders how the Astros will play on Friday with their backs against the wall. When was the last time this season the Astros played an absolutely must-win game? Never? Springer:
We understand what has to happen. We understand what's at stake here. You have to win or you go home. During the regular season, you don't really play any of those games.

Our backs are against the wall. We'll be ready. This team, we've played extremely well all season long, and nothing's going to change. We'll be ready for Game 6. We've responded all year long.

*Seeing as how the home team has won all five games in this series, having the last two in Houston looms large. Keuchel:
We put ourselves in good position during the regular season to get home-field advantage. We did what we had to do the first two games. They did what they had to do the middle games. Now we're looking to get back to Houston and regroup and do our jobs.

*FanGraphs' simulations have the Astros winning Games 6 & 7 30.6% of the time. FiveThirtyEight gives it a 32% chance, but gives the Astros a 58-42 edge on Friday...and a 54-46 edge on Saturday.

*Everyone's pretty happy that Verlander is going on Friday night.

*Teams trailing 3-2  have lost the series in 37 of 55 instances. BUT! Teams trailing 3-2 with Games 6 & 7 at home have won the series 13 of 27 times.