ALCS 2021: Red Sox vs. Astros Discussion Thread

joe dokes

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I am surprised not to find more discussion of the claim by our radio guys that Valdez was touching a particular part of his face which appeared to some to have something on it. Is that because it was a cracked-brain claim? No evidence? The contrast between his two alcs starts is dramatic, but I guess last night's performance was more in line with what he did during the season.
I heard that as well. OTOH--I never once heard any of the 3 mention that using sweat is legal. And OTTH-Will Flemming has made the broadcasts nearly unlistenable for me. He's a human gamethread. If I want a gamethread I'll stick with the inhuman one we have here.:oops: ;)
 
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allmanbro

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The worst part of this is that there’s nothing of any value to analyze, debate, or otherwise dig into. There’s no fun thought experiments in the current environment.

The lineup either gets it’s shit together on the off day, or we’re done. Nothing else matters. There’s no “8 IP, 1 ER allowed” outcome, even with Eovaldi. Mash or go home. Maybe mash AND go home, but at least go down swinging.
This is exactly how this team has felt through the playoff run: when the offense clicks (even if just for an inning or two), it doesn't seem to matter who is pitching or what they do, the Sox will score at least 3 runs in that inning. When the offense doesn't click, it doesn't seem to matter who's pitching or what they do, the Sox will only manage 1 or 2 runs on random solo shots in the game. In a weird way, this actually puts them in control of things, because they could just turn it on at any moment. But there are of course no guarantees they will.

I know this can't really be true, but that is how it has felt, and there is not much else I can figure out to say beyond that.
 

Sausage in Section 17

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I heard that as well. OTOH--I never once heard any of the 3 mention that using sweat is legal. And OTTH-Will Flemming has made the broadcasts nearly unlistenable for me. He's a human gamethread. If I want a gamethread I'll stick with the inhuman one we have here.
Agree on Flemming. He is constantly talking about what might happen in the future, like he’s the embodiment of a human jinx. Just describe what’s going on in the field, not in your mind.
 

LoneWarrior1

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Agree on Flemming. He is constantly talking about what might happen in the future, like he's the embodiment of a human jinx. Just describe what's going on in the field, not in your mind.
Good to read that I'm not alone re: Flemming. Hearing Sean McDonough leading the call was a bit of relief last night.

On another note, do Flemming and Joe Castiglione have a minor rift? I've been listening to the playoff games. On more than a handful of occasions, Flemming would pose hypotheticals or questions about the future, and Joe seemed to ignore them.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Games 6 and 7 are pretty much what we saw from the Astros in Games 2 and 3 in terms of starting pitching, right?

In the words of Rocco Lampone, "This is difficult, not impossible."
On paper, yes

In reality, I think they'd be fools not to start Javier in game 7, use Valdez for an inning or two, etc.
 

chrisfont9

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Games 6 and 7 are pretty much what we saw from the Astros in Games 2 and 3 in terms of starting pitching, right?

In the words of Rocco Lampone, "This is difficult, not impossible."
That's the hope right there. Opposing starting pitching is always huge, as is the lack thereof. Funny, yesterday reminded me of the playoff games I went to in the 80s against Oakland, which seeminlgy always began with Stewart vs Clemens, where it would be a tie or one run game for a while but you could just tell the Sox had no answer for Stewart and at some point the wheels would come off and presto! It's 8-0 or thereabouts. [I really don't want to look up those box scores.]

Garcia's last three starts have been horrendous, but before that he was very good, so we will see if he can be the guy who applies the pressure to the Sox or not. Urquidy was more like consistently meh over his final month before we blasted him out of the water Monday. If we can get to game 7, I don't see him as someone who can change the game; it'll be more a question of which offense cashes in.
 

joe dokes

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Good to read that I'm not alone re: Flemming. Hearing Sean McDonough leading the call was a bit of relief last night.

On another note, do Flemming and Joe Castiglione have a minor rift? I've been listening to the playoff games. On more than a handful of occasions, Flemming would pose hypotheticals or questions about the future, and Joe seemed to ignore them.
Interesting. I *did* notice last night that Flemming seemed invisible at times. (and annoying when he wasn't). It's too bad. I really liked him last year and even more so this spring. He was smooth and kind of witty. But as the season got tougher in the second half, it seemed like much more of his energies went toward doomsday (and not just about what was in front of him) rather than painting the radio picture, as they say. Joe Castig will give you the "my dog died" call on the bases loaded popup, but he leaves it up to the listener whether to just be disapppointed, to cry or to break stuff. [psychobabble alert] I almost get the sense that Flemming is talking down to the audience as to how they *should* feel. And he does it dozens of time each game.
 

RedOctober3829

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Now it's pure survive-and-advance mode. If they get runners on, do what you have to do in order to move the runners over and in. Eovaldi will get a little rope, but not much. Everyone else will get no rope. Pitch well or you're out after a few batters. If you have to go the other way to beat the shift(which they've been doing), do it. Find ways to get traffic on the basepaths. Get big hits with RISP.

If you had told me a month ago that we'd be sitting here awaiting Game 6 in a must win game with Nate Eovaldi on the mound, I would've been happy and content with how everything has progressed. At the time we were fighting to just get in the playoffs. It's been an unexpected ride so hopefully everyone can just enjoy the fact that we have playoff baseball to still pour ourselves into. I am still confident that they can turn it around and get back to being a hot offense. I still think this team is going to the World Series.
 

54thMA

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I am surprised not to find more discussion of the claim by our radio guys that Valdez was touching a particular part of his face which appeared to some to have something on it. Is that because it was a cracked-brain claim? No evidence? The contrast between his two alcs starts is dramatic, but I guess last night's performance was more in line with what he did during the season.
He was cheating then as well apparently.
 

54thMA

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Now it's pure survive-and-advance mode. If they get runners on, do what you have to do in order to move the runners over and in.
This.

Do what it takes; bunt, hit and run, steal a base (BTW, do they have anyone who can steal a base; I heard a stat that Vaz leads the team in steals with 8??), force the issue if need be, go down guns blazing, not bouncing into double plays.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This.

Do what it takes; bunt, hit and run, steal a base (BTW, do they have anyone who can steal a base; I heard a stat that Vaz leads the team in steals with 8??), force the issue if need be, go down guns blazing, not bouncing into double plays.
I wouldn't get my hopes up for them to suddenly go small ball now. They're not going to steal bases (yes, Vaz led the team) and they're not going to bunt. We might see some hit and run stuff with the right guys at the plate. The team has lived by the big hit/big inning approach and they're going to die by it as well. They're fucked if they're playing for a single run in any situation other than a bottom of the ninth type walk-off spot. And since they have no home games left unless they reach the World Series, I don't think we'll see much of any small ball from them.
 

chrisfont9

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Notable: Framber has a GB% of 70.1% -- just an absurd number when the league average is 42.2. That creep can roll. But... Garcia is at 38%, Urquidy 31, Javier 27. Greinke is around 45% but we aren't likely to see much of him. Odorizzi is at 35%. As you would expect, this bunch (minus Greinke) is also allowing above-league average FB%. Javier (30%) is above league avg in K% (23%) and Garcia is a touch above average (24%) but the rest are below. Urquidy, Javier and Greinke allow above-league avg LD%, Garcia and Odorizzi just below.

So basically, if they don't strike out too much, the Sox are probably going to start putting the ball in the air again when they get to Houston. Javier is the best of the bunch and has been good of late, but it's notable that after two appearances of mowing guys down (one vs Chi, one vs Bos), his third playoff appearance and second against the Sox featured fewer Ks, more BBs, more FBs and more LDs. The third look might be when the Sox finally get to him.
 
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cantor44

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2021 has been a very unique fan experience. There's no comp for this iteration of the Sox really - I suppose 2013 being the closest (a "bridge year" team achieving beyond pre-season expectation). There's a schizophrenic nature to this team. It's both entertaining and maddening. You never know quite know what to expect. Subsequently, as a fan, every day I'm in a different mental space: I'm satisfied this is all gravy; goddamnit they can DO it, I'm all in; I love these guys; this team stinks, terrible D, no bullpen; Cora - YES!; Cora - FUCK NO!" .... Then seeing that the Braves are up 3-1 ... oh boy, if we can make to the WS, we could WIN it.

Being a bit less emotional: It feels like the Sox have the pitching advantage game 6. Garcia has had a good season, but hasn't been good lately and allegedly has a balky knee. Let's hope if Eovaldi is dealing, Cora let's him go as deep into the game as he can, until he starts getting hit. Eovaldi third-time through is likely better than anyone in the bullpen the first time through, at this point. And if they can win game 6, game 7 is an all-hands-on-deck, anything can happen kinda thing. So, it's possible. But it ain't likely.
 

54thMA

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I wouldn't get my hopes up for them to suddenly go small ball now. They're not going to steal bases (yes, Vaz led the team) and they're not going to bunt. We might see some hit and run stuff with the right guys at the plate. The team has lived by the big hit/big inning approach and they're going to die by it as well. They're fucked if they're playing for a single run in any situation other than a bottom of the ninth type walk-off spot. And since they have no home games left unless they reach the World Series, I don't think we'll see much of any small ball from them.
When you score 1 run in 17 innings, maybe you need to think about trying to manufacture runs, make the other team beat you with defense on bunts and steals.

Look at the Braves, they put pressure on the Dodgers with stealing and bunting.

And it's working.

Earl Weaver would have loved this teams offensive approach.
 

joe dokes

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When you score 1 run in 17 innings, maybe you need to think about trying to manufacture runs, make the other team beat you with defense on bunts and steals.
Look at the Braves, they put pressure on the Dodgers with stealing and bunting.
And it's working.
Earl Weaver would have loved this teams offensive approach.
Stealing is unlikely, for obvious reasons. And I doubt they more than a couple of players who can reliably bunt.
Ultimately, for better or worse, this Sox team wont beat this Astros team scoring 1 run at a time.
(I dont know if those smarter than me have verified this, but isn't it the case that playing for 1 run in an inning makes it more likely that they wont get more than 1 run in that inning?)
 

chawson

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Being a bit less emotional: It feels like the Sox have the pitching advantage game 6. Garcia has had a good season, but hasn't been good lately and allegedly has a balky knee. Let's hope if Eovaldi is dealing, Cora let's him go as deep into the game as he can, until he starts getting hit. Eovaldi third-time through is likely better than anyone in the bullpen the first time through, at this point. And if they can win game 6, game 7 is an all-hands-on-deck, anything can happen kinda thing. So, it's possible. But it ain't likely.
Have they announced who’s starting G6 yet? I suspect it’ll be Garcia too but I haven’t seen anywhere. If I were Dusty that’s how I’d do it too, but I’m still not sure what’s up with the man’s knee.

It’s not a good situation for them, but I expect they’ll wait as long as possible to announce to keep the Sox from cramming their research. At this point, it could reasonably be any of four different guys taking the mound.
 

Rwillh11

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Stealing is unlikely, for obvious reasons. And I doubt they more than a couple of players who can reliably bunt.
Ultimately, for better or worse, this Sox team wont beat this Astros team scoring 1 run at a time.
(I dont know if those smarter than me have verified this, but isn't it the case that playing for 1 run in an inning makes it more likely that they wont get more than 1 run in that inning?)
It certainly depends what you mean by "playing for one run", but in most situations your run expectancy for the inning (and win probability for the game) declines after a successful bunt.
 

RedOctober3829

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Stealing is unlikely, for obvious reasons. And I doubt they more than a couple of players who can reliably bunt.
Ultimately, for better or worse, this Sox team wont beat this Astros team scoring 1 run at a time.
(I dont know if those smarter than me have verified this, but isn't it the case that playing for 1 run in an inning makes it more likely that they wont get more than 1 run in that inning?)
No one is saying to have Devers or JD put a bunt down. But if the opportunity presents itself with, say, the bottom of the order up 1st and 2nd and 0 out early in a 0-0 game they need to try to get the runners over. Nothing was more deflating yesterday than seeing Hunter Renfroe roll something over to the shortstop for a DP.
 

Pandarama

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These are your grandfather’s Red Sox. They are baseball’s Clydesdales.

Ricky Henderson’s not running through that door. Johnny Damon’s not running through that door. Jacoby Ellsbury’s not stealing home.

Live by the timely HR, die by the untimely GIDP. (And even I would have called for a bunt in a 1-0 game with two runners on and nobody out.)
 

nolasoxfan

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These are your grandfather’s Red Sox. They are baseball’s Clydesdales.

Ricky Henderson’s not running through that door. Johnny Damon’s not running through that door. Jacoby Ellsbury’s not stealing home.

Live by the timely HR, die by the untimely GIDP. (And even I would have called for a bunt in a 1-0 game with two runners on and nobody out.)
Grandfather's?! They're my childhood Red Sox, and I'm not that friggin old!
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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When you score 1 run in 17 innings, maybe you need to think about trying to manufacture runs, make the other team beat you with defense on bunts and steals.

Look at the Braves, they put pressure on the Dodgers with stealing and bunting.

And it's working.

Earl Weaver would have loved this teams offensive approach.
If it's working for the Braves, it's because they have the personnel to pull it off and it's been a part of their repertoire all season. The Red Sox don't have anyone in the lineup that runs like Eddie Rosario or Ozzie Albies. They don't have a pitcher's spot in the lineup where guys regularly practice sac bunting.

From what I've seen of the NLCS though, I don't think the Braves are beating the Dodgers with small ball tactics. Of their nine runs yesterday, the first three were all solo HRs and the last three were on a 3-run HR. They have four stolen bases in total for the series and no bunts at all (at least none that led to scoring). In general, they're relying on big innings and big hits as much as the Red Sox do, only they seem to have more effective pitching to hold the Dodgers down.
 

54thMA

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If it's working for the Braves, it's because they have the personnel to pull it off and it's been a part of their repertoire all season. The Red Sox don't have anyone in the lineup that runs like Eddie Rosario or Ozzie Albies. They don't have a pitcher's spot in the lineup where guys regularly practice sac bunting.

From what I've seen of the NLCS though, I don't think the Braves are beating the Dodgers with small ball tactics. Of their nine runs yesterday, the first three were all solo HRs and the last three were on a 3-run HR. They have four stolen bases in total for the series and no bunts at all (at least none that led to scoring). In general, they're relying on big innings and big hits as much as the Red Sox do, only they seem to have more effective pitching to hold the Dodgers down.
It's crazy how much baseball has changed the past few years.

Does having a solid rotation even matter if pitchers are going 5 innings and throwing 65 pitches in the process?

This "third time through the order" stat is causing managers to pull pitchers and dip into their bullpen.

Imagine in the playoffs having a "bullpen game" in an elimination game like the 106 win Dodgers are doing today.

Between the third time through the order and the shift, baseball has become a completely different game.

And the 100 win Tampa Bay Devils Rays are the ones who started both of those things.

On paper, Eovaldi and Pivetta are much better than the two options the Astros are going to throw out there; but at the first sign of trouble, into the Astros bullpen Baker will go.
 

chrisfont9

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Have they announced who’s starting G6 yet? I suspect it’ll be Garcia too but I haven’t seen anywhere. If I were Dusty that’s how I’d do it too, but I’m still not sure what’s up with the man’s knee.

It’s not a good situation for them, but I expect they’ll wait as long as possible to announce to keep the Sox from cramming their research. At this point, it could reasonably be any of four different guys taking the mound.
Reporter Bob Nightingale just tweeted that it's Garcia, presumably after confirming something from the Astros.
 

cannonball 1729

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Ultimately, for better or worse, this Sox team wont beat this Astros team scoring 1 run at a time.
This is the key. They're playing the Houston Astros, a team with an absolutely explosive offense, and the Red Sox bullpen has been leaky all season. Scratching out two runs doesn't help when the other team scores five. If you're the Sox, you have to play for the big inning and try to boat race them because you have an offense that can do that - pushing across a couple and then counting on the pitching to shut the Astros down is a bad idea.

And the 100 win Tampa Bay Devils Rays are the ones who started both of those things.
It's funny - I think the real (overlooked) origin of this was the Cuban national baseball team. They were the ones who would go into international competitions with a reliever already warming up in the bullpen before the starter even threw his first pitch. I remember commentators finding that sort of strategy really odd in the early WBCs...but Cuba won way more than they should, and people started to take notice.

But it does make sense. In the era where everyone out of the pen throws 98 and every hitter is capable of hitting a home run, there's no reason not to have the starter be max effort on every pitch. If he tires out, just bring in the next guy who throws 98.
 

cantor44

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It's crazy how much baseball has changed the past few years.

Does having a solid rotation even matter if pitchers are going 5 innings and throwing 65 pitches in the process?

This "third time through the order" stat is causing managers to pull pitchers and dip into their bullpen.

Imagine in the playoffs having a "bullpen game" in an elimination game like the 106 win Dodgers are doing today.

Between the third time through the order and the shift, baseball has become a completely different game.

And the 100 win Tampa Bay Devils Rays are the ones who started both of those things.

On paper, Eovaldi and Pivetta are much better than the two options the Astros are going to throw out there; but at the first sign of trouble, into the Astros bullpen Baker will go.
It will Eovaldi and Erod in games 6 and 7, right?
 

RobertS975

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No one is saying to have Devers or JD put a bunt down. But if the opportunity presents itself with, say, the bottom of the order up 1st and 2nd and 0 out early in a 0-0 game they need to try to get the runners over. Nothing was more deflating yesterday than seeing Hunter Renfroe roll something over to the shortstop for a DP.
When Hunter came up with 2 on and no outs, my first thought was that he was due for that first home run! My first thought after the DP was, "why didn't he bunt?"
 

chawson

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It will Eovaldi and Erod in games 6 and 7, right?
With a fully rested Houck and Whitlock. The Astros are not as vulnerable to handedness like the Rays but having those four guys ready is as good as we got.
 

E5 Yaz

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With a fully rested Houck and Whitlock. The Astros are not as vulnerable to handedness like the Rays but having those four guys ready is as good as we got.
Pivetta should also be available for a couple of innings in Game 7
 

rlcave3rd

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It seems like this series has been a microcosm of the season. After 3 games everything was looking good, sort of like being 4 1/2 games up in early July. Then the bottom fell out. Maybe we can take some solace from the way the season ended, with the Sox gutting out the final series to grab a playoff spot. They have shown the ability to win with their backs to the wall...
 

amRadio

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With no empirical analysis to back it up and only a hunch to put me on the path: if the Red Sox live to a game 7, E-rod will play the Derek Lowe role and steer them to a win. I think he's a big game pitcher. I went to a game in Baltimore in 2016 with the division on the line and E-rod got into the 8th for the first time in his career, got the W. I've been a huge fan of his since. This means absolutely nothing and is purely anecdotal feel-goodery. I just love the guy. I hope he pitches the lights out should the Sox live that long to see game 7.

I could see him approximating Price's beautiful game 5 in 2018. We can still do this.

Sorry, back to your regularly scheduled programming based on actual analysis.
 

Archer1979

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I've somewhat convinced myself that Dusty is going out-manage his way out of winning this. He's the Norv Turner of baseball. Both games could very well turn into bullpen games for Houston. Lot of room for Dusty to paint himself into a corner.
 

nvalvo

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I've somewhat convinced myself that Dusty is going out-manage his way out of winning this. He's the Norv Turner of baseball. Both games could very well turn into bullpen games for Houston. Lot of room for Dusty to paint himself into a corner.
I think he's done really well this series. His management of their pitching under some very tough situations in the first three games are a huge part of why they are on the brink of advancing.
 

jose melendez

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I've somewhat convinced myself that Dusty is going out-manage his way out of winning this. He's the Norv Turner of baseball. Both games could very well turn into bullpen games for Houston. Lot of room for Dusty to paint himself into a corner.
He’s ways better than Nov. Schottenheimer is a better analogy.
 

soxhop411

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In their last 21 innings the Sox have scored ONE run.

The entire offense has fallen off a cliff.
 

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The Sox overachieved this season and I want to feel satisfied with that. Can someone please explain why Cora let Whitlock sit in the pen while Ottavino who has not been one of the go to guys during these playoffs comes in with the season hanging in the balance. I just don’t get it.
 

nvalvo

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The Sox overachieved this season and I want to feel satisfied with that. Can someone please explain why Cora let Whitlock sit in the pen while Ottavino who has not been one of the go to guys during these playoffs comes in with the season hanging in the balance. I just don’t get it.
Neither Whitlock nor Houck were good in the playoffs. Cora
well to get them up in key spots, but they couldn’t get it done.

It’s been a big jump in innings and responsibility for both of them, so I hardly blame them, but it is what it is.

But really, the story here is that the Astros adjusted and shut down the Sox offense after the first three games.