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Houston Astros: In The Loop previews the ALCS

Fred, Landry, and Lopez break down the ALCS matchup

In The Loop
October 13, 2018 - 10:00 am

By Fred Davis, Landry Locker, and John Lopez

Fred Davis

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means….

‘We’re one day from the Texans-Bills Slugfest which may or may not captivate the rest of the NFL only to be followed by a BoB Curmudgeon-like performance at the Presser afterwards?’

Actually, that’s true, but that’s not what we’re here for today…

ASTROS CONTINUE THEIR MARCH TOWARDS ANOTHER WORLD SERIES CROWN TONIGHT IN BOSTON! 

Yeah, buddy, you know what time it is… So courtesy of your friends at In The Loop – Shoutout to the Loopholes – here’s a little something for you to nosh on as you get ready for the first pitch tonight at 7:09…

I understand it, the Red Sox are not the Indians and won 108 games on the year, not to mention they have TWO MVP candidates in JD Martinez and Mookie Betts. Throw in their pitching staff which was one of the best in baseball – 8th in the league in overall team ERA at 3.75 and fourth in the Majors as a staff with 1558 strikeouts on the year. Top it off with former Astro coach Alex Cora leading the charge over in Beantown – did I mention they had the best overall home record in the league this year too at 57-24 – and it’s clear, the Astros will have their work cut out for them if they’re going to get back to the World Series. 

Now, I can get all sabermetric nerdy on you, shout out to Bill James – remember when Moneyball came out, and this dude was a Rock Star? He’s kinda gone the way of Oxy Clean, which seemed too good to be true when it came out, and now I think you can get it for a dollar at your local flea market… I digress. 

Here’s the deal, stat-wise, these two teams are predictably close. I threw out the pitching stats for the Sox, well, the team that leads the Majors in Ks and ERA? HTown Please stand up at 1687 and 3.11 accordingly. Batting, just flip the script. The Sox were dominant at the plate this year leading the Majors in most major categories…. 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HITTING STATISTICS

 TeamBAOPSABRH2B3BHRBBK
1BOSTON.268.79256238761509355312085691253
2CLEVELAND.259.76555958181447297192165541189
3TAMPA BAY.258.73854757161415274431505401388
4CHI. CUBS.258.74156247611453286341675761388
5ATLANTA.257.73955827591433314291755111290
6COLORADO.256.75555417801418280422105071397
7HOUSTON.255.75354537971390278182055651197

 

Now that’s based off total batting average… But I know you see who’s Creepin’ On the Come Up at #7… 

So while we can all agree that these two teams with their 108 and 103 wins respectively should handle their BizNass and give us a memorable ALCS – I’m going to go Bizarro Tim Kurki-Jan on you and give you my Three Not So Really Informed Reasons why the Astros are going to take this Series in Five…. 

A.    BULLPEN DOMINANCE
I’m a Huge Pedro Martinez fan, and after the Astros decimated the Indians in Three, he raved about how much better the Houston pitching staff is than most and that even after their starting three pitchers, Houston has its above-average starting lineup in McHugh, McCullers, and Morton. Yikes. Then you throw in the likes of Ryan Pressley as your setup guy and then, of course, my guy – Roberto Osuna – shutting down fools to close games out. To me, aside from Garret Cole, the Astros Bullpen is the biggest X-Factor in this Series, and really, the entire playoffs for the Astros. Last year it was a buckshot approach, and they still won, even with Cray-Cray Ken Giles doing whatever he did. But now you’ve got a legit staff with solidified roles, and they’ve been absolutely lights out, and that’s going to be a massive advantage for the Astros.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL BULLPEN STATISTICS
 TeamERAW-LS-BSBAHERHRBBK
1HOUSTON3.0331-2346-21.21239316852137586
2CHI. CUBS3.3536-1846-19.22349021951273564
3OAKLAND3.3745-1744-18.21852424075234627
4NY YANKEES3.3835-2049-18.21949322367227753
5MILWAUKEE3.4742-2149-25.22652223767243708
6SAN DIEGO3.5328-3035-17.22754624963207720
7ARIZONA3.5623-3539-27.23447821460215495

 

Oh wait, they’ve been really good in the Playoffs too…

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL BULLPEN STATISTICS
 TeamERAW-LS-BSBAHERHRBBK
1HOUSTON0.931-01-0.12941039
2LA DODGERS1.151-11-0.2071222217
3CHI. CUBS1.290-10-0.25971024
4MILWAUKEE2.423-02-1.1831560534
5BOSTON3.710-02-0.18011721117
6ATLANTA3.921-11-2.19214941622
7NY YANKEES4.671-00-0.221231431326


B.    STARTING PITCHING – BATTLE TESTED
For me, you know what you’re going to get with Verlander – or at least you should anyway. The dude has been absolutely dominant since coming over the Stros last year and has been even scarier in the postseason.

VERLANDER PITCHING STATISTICS - PLAYOFFS
YEARTEAMGGSWLSVBSERACGSHOIPHRERBBSOHRWP
2018HOU1110003.38005.12222700


Gerrit Cole dispelled any notion in Game 2 that he would be shaky in the postseason when he went out and struck out 12 in seven innings while Dallas Kuechel gave you five solid innings and the bullpen did its job the rest of the way. One thing that jumps out for me – the Astros led the Majors in Quality starts this year with 105 – the Red Sox staff had 85. What’s a quality start you ask? According to the Baseball Nerds – it’s when your pitcher goes six innings and doesn’t allow more than 3 earned runs. I can get down with that. Oh, and did I mention we haven’t even seen Charlie Morton yet, who is coming off his best year as a pro. Bullpen – Check. Starting Pitching – Check. 

And Finally… 

C.    CONFIDENCE
This team is Sky-High right now (in my Goodie Mob Black Ice voice). They won 103 games with Correa, Altuve, and Springer all missing parts of the year. They had a real threat from both the Athletics and the Mariners for the entire year – and still held off both teams for the most wins in franchise history. Oh, and they ended the year with a 21-6 record in September – their best month of the year – and wasted no time with the Indians. They are literally hitting on all cylinders right now. Throw in the hottest baseball player on the planet right now – Alex Bregman – leading the charge, and I don’t see another team stopping the Astros right now. We’re accustomed to seeing this kind of dominance in football and basketball, but we haven’t seen it in awhile in Baseball.

This team is still hungry, they’re focused, and they’ve got everything you need in Championship Team: BATTING – YES
PITCHING – YES
COACHING – YES 
CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREES – HELLS YES. 

Sometimes in Sports, there’s one team that’s just better than everyone else. The Red Sox, Brewers, and Dodgers are all good baseball teams. 
The Astros are Better.

Stros in Five.  

Landry Locker
The Astros had the best season in franchise history despite all the key injuries. Carlos Correa missed 52 games, Jose Altuve missed 25, and George Springer missed 22.

A.J. Hinch’s team came into the 2018 postseason fully-healthy and sent the Cleveland Indians home with their tails between their legs. 

Boston lefty Chris Sale is an AL Cy Young candidate, but he was an AL Cy Young candidate last year heading into the ALDS meeting with Houston – how did that go?

Sale was 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA and allowed nine hits and four runs in 9 2/3 innings in last year’s ALDS meeting with the Stros. Many people mocked the Red Sox for embracing the underdog role this week despite having the best record in the MLB – but there’s a reason they did it – they aren’t as good. 

For the second season in a row, the Astros end the Red Sox season. 

Astros in Six. 

John Lopez
The record says the best team in baseball is the Boston Red Sox. Be we all know the hottest team in baseball and the most confident team in baseball is the Houston Astros. This clearly is an arsenal of weapons like baseball has not seen in a long time. No one dares mention the word dynasty just yet, but the Astros have the makeup of a team that can be exactly that. It starts here. Astros in Six. 

I want to thank all of you for reading – don’t forget – you can catch In The Loop Monday-Friday 10a-2p on Houston’s Sports Leader, Sports Radio 610.