Excuse the brevity of this post, but your faithful writer is about to head out to the Hill Country to see family we have not seen in months.
Game 3 of the ALDS this afternoon between the Astros and A’s is (Duh) critical for the A’s, who must win or head home for the off-season. But frankly, at this point, it is critical for the Astros, too even though they are up 2-0 in the best of five series.
The biggest reason is that the Astros have Jose Urquidy starting the third game and have the TBD twins scheduled for the fourth and fifth games of the series if needed. The news that Zack Greinke is experiencing elbow soreness is a terrible blow to the rotation at this point, especially with no off days for the ALDS and ALCS. After seeing elbow soreness take down Justin Verlander, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to date, this is another tough injury for a staff that has been playing “next man up” all season long.
The best-case scenario is the Astros finish the sweep of the A’s, Greinke’s soreness goes away, and the pitchers are well-rested when they take on the Yankees or Rays in the next round. The worst-case scenario has the Astros losing the third game and have early starting pitching failure in games 4 and 5 exposing a very young bullpen.
At this point, it would be the best guess that the Astros would have Cristian Javier, who pitched one inning of relief in the first game of the ALDS start the fourth game and then have Luis Garcia take a shot at an all hands on deck fifth game or bring back Lance McCullers on short rest.
There are plus sides to the Astros situation. The offense after sweeping the Twins and rolling through the first two games of the ALDS has seemed to get back a bit of its swagger, behind Carlos Correa (3 for 8, 2 HRs and 5 RBIs) and George Springer (6 for 9, 2 HRs and 4 RBIs). On top of that Jose Urquidy has been very good ever since returning from the IL in early September and has been excellent (1.26 ERA in 5 games) in the postseason in both 2019 and 2020. Their bullpen overall is well-rested, though some of the rested ones may or may not be ready for prime time.
On the negative side, likely, Ryan Pressly and Enoli Paredes, who pitched in the first two games of the series are not available for the third game. There are several pitchers (Josh James, Andre Scrubb, Cy Sneed, Brooks Raley, Luis Garcia) who have yet to pitch in this series and Blake Taylor would be available after pitching in Game 1.
But the best thing that could happen is for Urquidy to pitch 6 innings of one-run ball, the offense puts up a Crazy 8 on the scoreboard, and some of the relievers get their feet wet in a laugher of a clincher.
This will be a very crucial game for both clubs.