Thursday, October 12, 2023

Thursday Lunch Links

The Astros have advanced to the ALCS for the 7th straight year, or every single year in which Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, and anyone else whose career began with the Astros after 2016 have been in the Majors. This is a dynasty, and anyone who says otherwise deserves to get their teeth knocked into their throat. 

*Franchises to make seven straight League Championship Series:

Atlanta: 8 (1991-1999, there were no playoffs in 1994)

Houston: 7 (2017-2023)

*Playoff Wins, 2015-2023 (as of the morning of October 12):

Houston: 60

Los Angeles: 47

Atlanta: 24

New York Yankees: 20

Chicago Cubs: 19

Boston: 18

Cleveland/Washington: 16

Philadelphia/Tampa: 15

Kansas City: 11

Toronto: 10

New York Mets: 9

San Diego: 8

Milwaukee: 7

Arizona/Six Flags: 6

St. Louis: 5

San Francisco: 4

Minnesota/Oakland: 3

Chicago White Sox/Miami/Seattle: 2

Colorado: 1

Anaheim/Baltimore/Cincinnati/Detroit/Pittsburgh: 0


We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the bond that we have and the relationships that we have in this locker room, and we hold each other accountable in a good way. Obviously, this team is built different. These guys are built different. When it's time to step up, we play our best baseball.

*The Astros were held to six hits. Two of them, accounting for all three runs, were home runs. Houston is now 16-32 in postseason games in which they've recorded six or fewer hits. 

Houston is also now 1-5 in games where they do not draw a walk. 

15 straight Astros were retired until Jose Abreu got a base hit with two outs in the top of the 9th. 

*Jose Urquidy: 5.2IP, 3H/2ER, 6K:1BB. 53 of his 82 pitches were for strikes. Three of his 17 starts for the 2023 Astros went 17 outs or longer. Urquidy has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 13 career postseason appearances. 

Bregman, on Urquidy, Mr. Game 4:

We've seen that since his rookie year, winning World Series games for us. We have a lot of confidence every time he goes and takes the mound. We know what we're going to get every single time: a guy who's competing, a guy who's trying to go execute pitches.

*The bullpen of Neris/Abreu/Pressly struck out eight of the last ten Twins batters in G4. 


Houston: 15IP, 10H/6ER, 26K:4BB (4ER were courtesy of Hector Neris in G1)

Minnesota: 19IP, 16H/8ER, 21K:7BB

*Carlos Correa watched Max Kepler watch Strike Three to end the series from the on-deck circle. 

Correa, Games 1/2: 5x8, 3 doubles, 3RBI, 2K:1BB

Correa, Games 3/4: 1x7, 0RBI, 2K:0BB


I wanted that at-bat (in the 9th) so bad. I know Pressly very well, and it would've been a fun matchup. It didn't get there, but that's the way it's supposed to be.

Imagine moving Correa down in the order so that Max Kepler can represent the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th and swing twice. 

*What a find by GMs Jim Crane/Jeff Bagwell in this Jose Abreu fella. Abreu was 2x4 with the eventual go-ahead 2-run homer. Abreu had 2HR/7RBI in Games 3&4. Abreu:

The only thing I can say is thank you.k The person that's not grateful with what life has given them isn't going to reach many goals. I can't say anything other than thank you. I'm just very grateful to be here.

*Michael Brantley hit his first postseason home run since 2020 ALCS G3 - a span of 22 games. Brantley:

The core guys that have been here the last seven years, they know how to win games. Since I got here five years ago, you can call it pressure, or when our back is against the wall, we play our best baseball. We always have. And it's a testament to those guys.

*Jeremy Pena went hitless for just the second time in 17 career postseason games. 

*Bryan Abreu: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB. 

Bryan Abreu since July 18: 31IP, 13H/0ER, 41K:13BB

*Ryan Pressly: 1IP, 0H/0ER, 3K:0BB.

Pressly, postseason career (all with Houston): 40.2IP, 30H/11ER, 53K:12BB. 2.43 ERA/1.03 WHIP.

Pressly last gave up an earned run in the postseason in 2021 ALCS G1. In the 17 postseason games since: 18.2IP, 6H/0ER, 28K:5BB. 0.00 ERA / 0.59 WHIP.

*Correa, on Maldonado:

He knows what he's doing behind the plate, and he knows every hitter's weaknesses and he's going to try to exploit. He pitches against the xSLG...and we knew it, and still it was hard to make the adjustments, the way he was pitching backwards. Hitters counts, he would go off-speed, and then a count where he would go off-speed regularly, he would go fastballs up. 

*Verlander, on the Astros' culture

There's been a culture established here that hasn't faded away. It's still very present, and that's a testament to the guys that were here before and the guys that remain here and the guys that are leaders of this ballclub. They don't allow slacking off, but they do it in a respectful manner. They expect the best of everyone because they're giving their best every single day. What a great way to lead by example. I think our culture is something not tangible. Funny that one (for) one of the most analytic-forward teams in baseball, something that makes this team so special is something that's not measurable. 

*Jeff Passan:

For seven years - one short of Atlanta's record eight-straight championship series appearances - the Astros have managed to win at least one playoff series. And as dissatisfying as that might be for those who harbor resentment against the organizaiton for its cheating in 2017, anyone who refuses to acknowledge the Astros' exceptional staying power is just willfully ignorant.

*FanGraphs: Houston 60.9 - 30.1 Six Flags

Other Stuff:

*100-win teams (Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles), 2023 postseason: 1-8.

Pretty sweet to watch the Astros clinch the ALDS and then turn it over to watch the Dloldgers get swept by a team that went 5-8 against them in the regular season. The Dodgers are the second team in MLB history to win 100 games in the regular season and never even hold a lead in the postseason. The Bastard Dave Roberts:

There's some things with the format that people can dissect or whatever, but the bottom line is we've gotten outplayed in the postseason. 

Read every single word above this section to see why maybe the playoff format isn't the reason. 

Dodgers, regular season, 2018-2023: 558-313 (.641)

Dodgers, postseason, 2018-2023: 30-28 (.517)

Or, Dodgers, postseason, non Mickey Mouse years (2018-19, 2021-23): 17-23 (.425)

*Jay Jaffe: Dodgers take another early exit from the postseason tournament.

*London to Norman: Inside one recruit's 5,000 mile official visit

*Respect to The Ringer for not having a single solitary baseball article on the front page of their website. 

*The radical empathy of Jason Isbell.

What To Watch, October 12:

1:45pm Central: UEFA Euro Qualifying - Scotland @ Spain

3:30pm: CONMEBOL Qualifying - Uruguay @ Peru

7:00pm: Rockets @ Pelicans 

7:07pm: Braves @ Phillies

*How Braves-Phillies became Baseball's Best Rivalry.

*A Musical Selection: