World Series Preview: Don’t Sleep on the Astros Bullpen

So much for the theory that the best two teams never meet in the World Series. Some jackass recently mentioned in a post that the Dodgers probably wouldn’t make it simply because the best teams rarely do. What an idiot. And sure, the Astros weren’t technically the best team in the AL record-wise but if you eclipse 100 wins every victory after that is just noise.

It’s been reported that Corey Seager is going to start at shortstop tonight, which would be a casual injection of incredible talent to a team that has already made it to the World Series. This also gives them the edge in overall talent. Houston has the best player in this series, but Jose Altuve can’t play every position like Bugs Bunny. Houston probably has the better starting lineup but LA has a large depth advantage.

While LA can match Houston’s firepower offensively and defensively, on the mound is where they seemingly separate themselves. Anyone who tries to convince you that the top two starters for these teams cancel each other out is full of shit. When one of the pitchers is Clayton Kershaw, there is no cancelling anything out. Dallas Keuchel is a fine pitcher but he’s not an ace. I put him and Jose Quintana in the same category: really good pitcher who can dominate but doesn’t have the stuff to recover when something isn’t working for him. Following Kershaw/Keuchel we get Darvish/Verlander. Yes, Verlander is better right now but Darvish can shove just as well as he can if everything is working. Verlander has been the best pitcher in the postseason thus far, but as far as pure stuff Darvish can easily hold his own.

Sounds cliche, and it is, but this series will likely come down to the bullpens. It’s strange to see Houston’s pen struggling so much right now. They have a depth chart full of relievers who have had excellent careers and have been extremely reliable in the regular season. I won’t put it past them to turn it around, but does AJ Hinch give them that opportunity after they’ve proven to be dogshit in the postseason? LA’s pen will be there and will be dominant, so Houston needs big performances from someone to match their efficiency.

The best way to try and predict any outcome in the postseason is by using a balancing act. Houston’s bullpen has been horrific, but that’s not a true representation of how talented they are. Ken Giles is one of the best closers in the league. Wil Harris at one time didn’t allow a run for over 26 innings straight. Chris Devenski had a sub-1.00 WHIP during the regular season and Collin McHugh chucks fire coming out of the pen. This isn’t a bad bullpen, and if Hinch trusts them they might just turn it around at the right time and win the World Series for the Houston Astros.

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