Talk about your small sample sizes. Here are some observations after two whole games, both wins (6-2, 3-1) by the home team Houston Astros.
- Only an engineer would notice this, but based on the numerical progression, the Astros should win the third game 1-1/2 to 1/2 a run…..
- The Astros’ pair of aces outdueled two very good Tampa Bay Rays starters. How do you compare Gerrit Cole’s totally dominant outing (7.2 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits, 15 Ks, 1 BB) to Justin Verlander’s totally dominant outing (7.0 IP, 0 runs, 1 hit, 8 Ks, 3 BBs)? Tyler Glasnow (4.1 IP, 2 ERs) and Blake Snell (3.1 IP, 1 ERs) were both solid with some great stuff, but recent injuries meant the Rays had to go to the bullpen early for both.
- If Verlander/Cole continue their domination all the way to a World Series title, who is going to care if Jim Crane has to pay a bit of luxury tax in re-signing Cole? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/10/astros-rumors-luxury-tax-gerrit-cole.html Yes, the Astros may not want to sign Cole to a 6 or 7 year contract based on their previous history of avoiding long term commitments to pitchers. But if they were going to make that step would Cole be the one to earn that honor?
- The Astros’ fielders have not committed an error, while the Rays have made two big errors that bit them in the butt. In the fifth inning of the first game, Brandon Lowe missed a two out pop-up that moved the needle from 2-0 to 4-0 and really put the Rays in catch-up mode. In the 7th inning of the 2nd game, SS Willy Adames made a throwing error on Yuli Gurriel’s ground ball. He came around for what ended up being the winning run on Martin Maldonado’s single later in the inning.
- After a single and three Ks in the first game, Carlos Correa proved to be a valuable 7th place hitter (who would have believed that statement two years ago) as his double set up Gurriel to score the second run and his two out single in the eighth brought in the third and final run.
- In the off-season, non-tendering Will Harris who was going to get a fair raise in arbitration after a middling 2018 was a consideration. At least a consideration for some of us fans (and I may have been one of those some), but the Astros settled on a $4.2 million salary with Harris and he has rewarded them with a top season out of the bullpen (4-1, 4 saves, 1.50 ERA, 60 IPs). He has turned in two critical firemen performances coming in to put out a fire started by Ryan Pressly in the 8th inning of game one and even more critically coming into a 3-1 second game with the bases loaded and 1 out (fire courtesy of Roberto Osuna) and getting out unscathed.
- George Springer is 0 for 8 and a walk in the first two games. After the 2017 playoffs, I’m willing to wait for George to go nuts in the 2019 version.
- It was just not a surprise to see Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman get the team off the scheid in each game with a home run.
- How much do we blame Robeto Osuna for his 9th inning meltdown? He pitched great in game one. In game 2, he got out of an 8th inning jam left to him by Cole and then had to sit waiting through a very long bottom of the 8th inning. He then almost spit the bit in the 9th inning before being rescues by Harris. Playoff jitters and meltdowns ended up causing the Astros to sit down Ken Giles two seasons ago. We witnessed top notch relievers like Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen hiccup under the pressure of close and tight in the playoffs. A.J. Hinch will need all his relievers in these playoffs and he is not likely to switch out closers after one scary outing. Now if Osuna has a second scary outings…..
- It would certainly behoove the Astros to win this ALDS in Tampa in the next game (or at worst) two. Their best case scenario will be to head into the ALCS with Verlander and Cole in the first two games. If they go to a 5th game, then Verlander is used up until the 3rd game of the ALCS if the Astros do win the ALDS.
The Astros are a better team than the Rays, but they go to Tampa knowing that Charlie Morton is a heck of an opponent in the third game and having to put faith in either Jose Urquidy or Wade Miley (or both) in the fourth game. Again the Rays were a 96 win team in the regular season playing in a very tough division. The Astros need to play their best and hope that their offense revs it up and makes their pitcher’s lives easier.
How do you see the rest of this series playing out?