Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Well that was more like it...sort of. Still, four runs felt like a week's worth, and even some hits that had no business getting down found their way between a few of Washington's 17 fielders. Astros win 4-1. Nationals lead the Series 2-1. Game 4 is tonight.

*FanGraphs now has the Series at 52-48 Nationals. Dan Szymborski says it's 62-38 Nationals and that the two highest-percentage outcomes are Nationals in 5 (26.0%) or Astros in 7 (24.6%). FiveThirtyEights gives it 68-32 Nationals. Tonight's game is just as massive as Game 3 was. If the Astros can tie it up tonight, it makes the series a best-of-three with two of those at Houston. The last team to be down 2-1 in a World Series and win it: the 2017 Houston Astros.

*Richard Justice: Why Game 4 is so crucial.

*It's the first time since 1996 that the road team won the first three games of the World Series. That's the one where the Yankees were down 0-2 to the Braves, and won it in six games. 13 facts & figures from Game 3.

We knew this game was real important for us and I know we're going to get some momentum going and win a lot of games.

*Hinch, on the win:
It kind of re-establishes us in this series. When they come into our ballpark and beat Gerrit and Justin, that's a big punch. They threw a big punch at the beginning of this series. Now we've got enough experience and enough feel about how series go that we knew - we win today, get a little mojo back on our side, get a little bit of momentum, start to swing the bats a little bit better, we're not afraid of playing in any venue. The fans here were incredible and just alive, like you would expect in the World Series. And our players thrive on that, too.

Tom Verducci, on how A.J. Hinch out-managed Dave Martinez. Verlander:
Our manager managed a hell of a game.

Robinson Chirinos, who homered off the foul pole:
I feel like in the postseason, we're trying too much, trying to be a hero. That's something we talked about on the plane...We're like, 'Let's have a good approach, good at-bats as a team and don't try to do too much. Just keep the line moving. Don't swing for a fence. Just go the other way and make sure we're seeing the ball and swinging at strikes, and I feel like we did that tonight.

Reddick, on his RBI double that left the bat at 62.1mph:
I think it was a big sigh of relief for us, because we have been dealing with so many hard-hit balls [for outs] and been frustrated by it. It was a finally-it-went-our-way moment to get us off our butt, so to speak, and get us moving forward.

Jenny Dial Creech: Reddick provided the spark for the Astros in Game 3.

After 41 swings-and-misses in the first two games, the Astros came up empty on swings just ten times in Game 3. Houston was 4x10 w/RISP in Game 3 - Washington was 0x10. The four Astros stolen bases set a franchise playoff record.

*Bregman was 0x5 with a strikeout to continue his miserable ALCS/World Series. He's 1x14 w/RISP in the postseason But he's smoking the ball. Last night in the 5th Bregman hit into a lineout with an exit velocity of 97.4mph with an expected batting average of .370, in the 6th he hit a ball 102mph off the bat. In the 9th he lined out to short with a 99mph exit velocity that had an expected batting average of .850. The hits should come.

Bregman, 2019: .296/.423/.592, 41HR, 83K:119BB, .281 BABIP
Bregman, ALDS: .353/.450/.647, 1HR, 6K:3BB, .500 BABIP
Bregman, ALCS: .167/.423/.222, 0HR, 2K:7BB, .188 BABIP
Bregman, WS: .077/.143/.308, 1HR, 4K:1BB, .000 BABIP

Yep, every ball that Bregman has hit in the first three games of the World Series either left the park or was hit to a defender.

*Altuve was 2x5 with a pair of doubles, and scored two of the Astros' four runs. He has at least one hit in 13 of the Astros' 14 postseason games in 2019 - ALCS G5 being the only hitless postseason game for Altuve (and even then he drew two walks). He's hitting .362/.413/.724 with 5K:5BB in October.

*Michael Brantley was 2x4 with 2RBI. Since hitting .125/.125/.125 through the first four games of the ALDS, Brantley is hitting .368/.467/.447

*Will Harris, 2019 postseason: 8.1IP, 4H/0ER, 10K:1BB.

*Greinke: 4.2IP, 7H/1ER, 6K:3BB, 95 pitches. Hinch, on Greinke:
This guy doesn't scare off. This is not somebody that I have any fear whatsoever is not going to be able to handle the stage or the magnitude. This guy has been good for a really long time.

*FanGraphs' Craig Edwards says Game 3 came down to pitchers hitting.

*ESPN's Jeff Passan: How the Astros just gave this World Series a shot at greatness:
Beyond being the first World Series game in the nation's capital since 1933, Game 3 rekindled the notion of baseball being played until the cusp of November. It planted dreams of a seven-game fracas and guaranteed the Astros could start Gerrit Cole in Game 5, which, at least until the Nationals beat him in the first game of the Series, was enough to almost guarantee a Justin Verlander start in Game 6.

*Jose Urquidy will start Game 4 tonight (7:07pm Central). How long will he pitch? Urquidy hasn't thrown 6+ IP in a month. Hinch:
He can go as long as he's good. I don't have necessarily a predetermined plan on how many innings, how many pitches.

Patrick Corbin will take the mound for the Nationals. He started NLDS G1 and threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 9K:5BB. He started again in NLCS G4 and threw 5IP, 4H/4ER, 12K:3BB, and has made four relief appearances in the 2019 postseason, getting blown up in NLDS G3.

Jake Kaplan: Why the Astros are giving the ball to Jose Urquidy.

*ESPN's David Schoenfield: How many future Hall of Famers are playing in this World Series?

*MLB is still reviewing the Taubman Incident (which sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel). Rob Manfred:
I will say that there are a variety of issues. I'm not going to narrow the statement. We're going to continue to review the situation, have conversations with Crane. It's one thing to comment and investigate for 24 hours on a specific incident...I didn't say that there is going to be further action, but there are things we want to talk to the Astros about, continuing to have those conversations and gather information. I think it was important that they recognize that they had made a mistake. They issued an apology and they dealt with the individual situation in a decisive way, and those are all positives...I think when we get to the point when we have something more to say, it'll be public. Again, I don't want the expectation that this piece of it is going to be as quick as the last piece, because there is more to it.

What more could there be? Well in two pieces yesterday - one by former Chronicle reporter Evan Drellich and one by ESPN's Jeff Passan - the entire character and culture of the front office under Luhnow and Crane was called into question.

One unnamed source told The Athletic the culture in the Astros' front office is:
Toxic. Eats you alive. Cutthroat. Secretive. Not fun. But, winning, being first, innovative.

One GM labeled the Astros' initial actions this week as "The most Astros thing ever."

Around the game, shots of schadenfreude have been chased by I-told-you-so's. Contempt for the Astros runs deep - and has well before this incident. Jealousy breeds some of it. The organization's arrogance accounts for the rest. The Astros painted themselves as a disrupter and reveled in the commotion. They lived with the perception that they didn't understand people. They fed their process, followed it with fealty, doubled down. They believed in it, and they never had much of a reason not to, not until a week ago, when the assistant GM high on the feeling of winning the pennant opened his mouth, and two days later when Luhnow and the Astros forgot to abide by that essential principle that has guided them for so long: Bad information leads to bad decisions.

The Drellich piece is paywalled (The Athletic, and whatnot). The Passan piece is free. I would encourage you to read it. Just because facts aren't flattering doesn't make them false, and it's worth knowing what the general tenor around the game is of the Houston Astros.

It can feel like the media is piling on with the Taubman Incident. They're not. Well, maybe some are, but it's not piling on to lend context to this bombshell of a week the Astros are experiencing off the field. There are things that I know that I didn't put on this hellscape corner of the internet, simply because it wouldn't make a ton of sense to just blurt it out, or I was asked not to post it. But things that I, and others who write here, have learned over the course of the last 6-7 years makes what happened with Taubman not all that surprising. And if I know these things, you better believe people who get paid to know these things do, too. What happened with Taubman provided an opportunity baseball writers to work those little tidbits in and assign it to this story because there is context there.

*Yahoo's Hannah Keyser: The Astros say they don't have a culture problem. Here's why they're wrong.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri: What reason is there to trust Rob Manfred?

*The Hardball Times: Racism: The Original Performance Enhancer.

*Brad Jordan - aka Scarface, who has probably done it all, homey, believe me - is running for Houston City Council, where everything is everything fo sheezy.

*A Musical Selection: