Thursday, November 2, 2017

Notes, quotes and comment (Astros are champs edition)

Game Seven -- Game Six also, really -- was something of an anticlimax. With the weather in Chevez Ravine back to normal, the venerable yard played normal, and the hitting was muted once Dave Roberts pulled Yu Darvish.

I've written this repeatedly over the years that I've been commenting on baseball: Baseball is a liquid; it takes the shape of its container. Dodger Stadium -- really, all the California major league parks -- is a pitcher's park, particularly for night games. It played differently for the first two games because of the heat.

So the wild comebacks that marked the first five games of the Series were absent at the end. Which is fine by me. Game Five was wild, entertaining and amazing, but I wouldn't like a daily diet of it.


Give credit to A.J. Hinch, the Houston manager, who devised a short-term workaround to a reality that I suspect many managers would have ignored: His season-long preferred back-of-the-bullpen options were ineffective.

Hinch closed out the Yankees in the ALCS with starter Lance McCullers Jr. working four innings in relief of Charlie Morton. He closed out Game 3 of the World Series with Brad Peacock firing 3.2 innings in relief of McCullers. And in Wednesday's finale, Morton threw four innings, again in relief of McCullers (and others).

Using starters as relievers in the postseason isn't particularly inventive. It's sticking with them in the ninth that is unusual. Neither McCullers nor Peacock had a major league save in their careers until these long outings. Nor has Morton, who was credited with the win rather than the save for his four inning stint Wednesday.

Most managers would have reflexively thanked those guys after the eighth and waved in the closer. And the way Ken Giles collapsed this month (and, really. Chris Devenski as well), that probably wouldn't have worked.

Hinch's workaround harkened to the bygone era of doubleheaders and train travel, when the schedule really didn't allow managers to use set rotations. Most teams had one or two pitchers who were strictly starters and everybody else was a swing man. That practice died out a half-century or so ago. Hinch revived it out of necessity; I can't imagine that he'd want to try it for a full season.


That said, I also suspect that the Astros' offseason will include a massive overhaul of their relief corps. Giles had such a miserable postseason (11.74 ERA in seven outings) that even the Astros championship won't erase the memories.

The closer era has been marked by a number of careers permanently marred by October failures, from Donnie Moore and Calvin Scharaldi to Matt Williams to Byung-Hyng Kim to Neftali Feliz. Giles may well prove to be the next addition to that list. I wouldn't be surprised if the Astros decide to trade him away even at a discount.


#OldFriends Dept.: Francisco Liriano faced two hitters in this World Series and got them both out.  Juan Centeno never got into a game and will be a pretty good trivia answer someday.


A good, satisfying World Series between two quality teams. Only 105 days until pitchers and catchers report.

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