Wake up, time to die. Today is the day we find out if the Astros move on to the ALCS or if they flushed a 107-win season down the toilet in the span of four days. Game 5 is tonight at 6:07pm Central on Everyone's Favorite Sports Broadcasting Network FS1. Your pals Joe Girardi and AJ Pierzynski will no doubt be on the call tickling your eardrums with their delightful commentary.
*The Astros - unlike a lot of you/us - are confident. Bregman, on playing behind Gerrit Cole:
He's an ace. We look forward to it. It's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to be fired up and looking to play as well as we can behind him.
I love that we're here [Ed. Note: I'm assuming "here" means "Minute Maid Park," not "Game 5"] And the way we got here is nerve-wracking just because you don't want to get to a Game 5. We fought all year to have a better record and to win our division to get this particular game at home. And they've got to come into our house and beat us again. With Cole on the mound, I don't know who could be more confident than us.
A few stats on Gerritund Brentford Cole:
*The Astros scored an average of 6.67 runs/game when Cole started. Houston is 22-4 when Cole starts at home since the beginning of 2018 (postseason included).
*On April 20, Gerrit Cole allowed 9H/8ER to the soon-to-be-eliminated Farmers Branch Rangers. His season ERA was 5.22 In 29 starts since then (ALDS G2 included), Cole has thrown 190.2IP, 120H/42ER, 297K:40BB, a 1.98 ERA / 0.84 WHIP. His strikeouts alone from April 25-today would rank 6th-highest in franchise history.
*On May 22, Cole allowed 7H/6ER to the White Sox in a 9-4 loss. That was the last time Gerrit Cole has taken an L. That's 142 days.
*On July 12, the Astros lost a game Cole started against the Lower McKinney Ramgers. That was the last time the Astros lost a game Cole started. Since that start, Houston is 12-0 when Gerrit Cole takes the mound.
*Gerrit Cole, in 17 starts at Minute Maid Park in 2019, threw 120.2IP, 74H/33ER, 189K:20BB, a 2.46 ERA / 0.78 WHIP.
*Gerrit Cole, in two postseason starts at Minute Maid Park: 14.2IP, 7H/1ER, 27K:1BB, a 0.61 ERA / 0.55 WHIP.
*Houston is 14-4 at home in the postseason under A.J. Hinch.
*Opposing starter Tyler Glasnow, who literally cried when Altuve hit a home run, could go 90 pitches. It'll be a bullpen game if the Astros make it a bullpen game. Oh wow did you know Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow were taken by the Pirates in the same draft? Jordan Shipley's dad and Colt McCoy's dad were roommates when they were in college.
*Carlos Correa, on the almost-non-existent offense in the ALDS:
It's time for us to go off as an offense. You guys are used to seeing us score 10, 15 runs in the regular season, but when it comes to the playoffs, it's the best of the best, and they're doing a good job. At the same time, we're the best offense in the league, and we have to adjust in our approach.
Houston, regular season: .274/.352/.492, 5.68 runs/game
Houston, 2019 ALDS: .241/.294/.391, 3.25 runs/game
*FanGraphs has the Astros at 65.4-34.6 to win Game 5. FiveThirtyEight has it at 70-30 Astros. Figure out the ALCS when it comes, tip your cap to the Rays if it doesn't and start to heal your liver.
*Mike Lupica: It's Tampa's biggest game in a decade. This is a side note, but I really appreciate Kevin Cash. Hell of a manager. Good job, dude.
*Richard Justice: The Rays' bullpen makes them so difficult. Altuve:
I think I faced four different guys [in Game 4]. They're all different. And they have something really special.
*Alyson Footer: A.J. Hinch likes his own bullpen depth. Hinch:
Oftentimes these relievers are only talked about when they struggle or when they give up a big hit. It's a thankless job. If they don't do their job, they blew the game. Nobody has really blown games in this series. Both teams have won the games that they kind of are ahead in and how they're supposed to win, and how we match up in the end. We'll see if that can continue. And I like the chances with the depth we have
*Let this be Bulletin-Board (or Insta-story material) for Carlos Correa: FanGraphs ranks him as the 16th-best (fantasy-wise) shortstop going into 2020, and places it solely on his injury history.
*MLBTR - who is genuinely reliable in matters of this sort - released their arbitration projections for 2020. With Game 5 looming, I'm not ready to discuss this, but it's worth a look, especially for George Springer's projected $21.4m salary.
*The Los Angeles Dodgers gave up a 10th Inning grand slam to lose Game 5 7-3. Clayton Kershaw gave up back-to-back homers in the 8th to tie it.
Kershaw, regular season: 169-74, 2.44 ERA / 1.01 WHIP.
Kershaw, postseason: 9-11, 4.43 ERA / 1.10 WHIP.
*It would be okay with me if the Astros did a Cards tomorrow. Related: Former Astros Great Brian McCann retired after the game. From 2005-2019 - McCann's entire career - he posted 54.5 fWAR, ranked only behind Russell Martin (?) for catchers. Better than Yadier "IG Tough Guy" Molina. Most fWAR, Catchers, 1962-2019:
1. Johnny Bench (74.8)
2. Gary Carter (69.4)
3. Ivan Rodriguez (69.2)
4. Carlton Fisk (68.3)
5. Mike Piazza (63.7)
6. Joe Torre (59.3)
7. Russell Martin (55.2)
8. Brian McCann (54.5)
9. Ted Simmons (54.2)
10. Yadier Molina (54.0)
McCann: 282 home runs, 1018 RBIs, .789 OPS, 110 OPS+, never struck out 100+ times in a season, 7-time All-Star, 6-time Silver Slugger, World Series Champion. The next item on McCann's to-do list is to write his HOF speech.
That said, having already defeated Cleveland, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles in the playoffs in 2017-2018, it would be extremely satisfying to beat St. Louis - who apparently took exception to how an Atlanta player reacted to an HBP in a game the Cardinals were handily winning, would take the cake.
*The road team won both Game 5s in the NL on Wednesday.
*Astros Bench Coach Joe Espada is up against Carlos Beltran, Joe Girardi, and David Ross for the Cubs' managerial position, which could explain why Girardi won't shut up with his Manager-Speak for Mother FS1.
*How Sean Forman started Baseball-Reference.
*Thankfully someone could interpret the WAG War of 2019 that happened on Twitter/Instagram between the wife of Wayne Rooney and the wife of Jamie Vardy.
*Sinners, Scalpers, and the Search for God: One man's descent into the underworld of sports.
*A Musical Selection, with a special note: I'm a dad with a beard, happily married for many years, so I hit all the pre-requisites for liking Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. That said, I saw Wilco play in a downtown Nashville parking lot in the summer of 2002 for free and, fresh with nicotine poisoning, told my future wife that I loved her for the first time. We got married 365 days later. It was because of this song (and her):