ALCS 2021: Red Sox vs. Astros Discussion Thread

chrisfont9

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Cora isn’t making decisions based on reputation. If Sale is starting game one, it’s because Cora thinks Sale is the best option to start game one. Maybe that’s because Sale fixed something and has dominant stuff back, maybe it’s because it gives the other guys another day of rest, maybe it’s because the team believes Sale’s stuff will play better in Minutemaid than Fenway. Whatever the reason, it’s not reputation
I think rest is the main factor. What Cora is doing is not changing the order. It's been Sale-Eovaldi for the last couple weeks -- closing weekend/WC game, and ALDS. If he changes the order now and gives up the chance for Eovaldi to pitch on extra rest, then he's saying he likes Eovaldi better than Sale, or worse, that he is losing confidence in Sale based on his last two starts. That is not how Cora operates. I'm not surprised.
 

joe dokes

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based on reputation not performance, Cora caved
How is that "caving"? It may be "fucking up," but caving implies some sort of external forces that left Cora cowering in some corner, pissing down his leg and finally crying uncle. IOW--"caving" is "bullshit."
 

azsoxpatsfan

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How is that "caving"? It may be "fucking up," but caving implies some sort of external forces that left Cora cowering in some corner, pissing down his leg and finally crying uncle. IOW--"caving" is "bullshit."
To be fair, there’s no evidence that Cora didn’t cower, piss himself, and cry
 

Sausage in Section 17

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I think rest is the main factor. What Cora is doing is not changing the order. It's been Sale-Eovaldi for the last couple weeks -- closing weekend/WC game, and ALDS. If he changes the order now and gives up the chance for Eovaldi to pitch on extra rest, then he's saying he likes Eovaldi better than Sale, or worse, that he is losing confidence in Sale based on his last two starts. That is not how Cora operates. I'm not surprised.
I have a lot of faith in Alex Cora‘s strategic decision making. I don’t think he cares much about reputation, history, or the player’s egos. He will consistently try to do what he thinks puts the Red Sox in the best position to win, in a way that is more aggressive than most managers have been historically. I started this thread by saying that I thought Sale was currently our worst starter, and should be limited in his exposure. Based on recent performance, I still think that’s true.

So if Cora wants Sale as Game One starter, I want to believe he saw a change in his approach/performance. When he is able to command his stuff, he is still a number 1-2 starter for most teams. Like I said, I have a lot of faith in Cora‘s approach, so to me this looks like pretty encouraging news. I guess we’ll find out sooner than later.
 

ricopetro6

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How is that "caving"? It may be "fucking up," but caving implies some sort of external forces that left Cora cowering in some corner, pissing down his leg and finally crying uncle. IOW--"caving" is "bullshit."
caving to Sale's reputation and possibly having a mopey Sale if he's pushed back to game 3 or 4. Nate is your clear #1, you start him game 1 to set the tone. Maybe it works out, but if it doesn't and Cora has to use up Houck in game 1..that wouldn't be good. Cora is a good manger, but some of his decisions don't make sense at times, like not pinch running for Vaz when he was on 2nd, but does when on 3rd. Yes, it worked..but didn't make sense.
 

The Filthy One

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caving to Sale's reputation and possibly having a mopey Sale if he's pushed back to game 3 or 4. Nate is your clear #1, you start him game 1 to set the tone. Maybe it works out, but if it doesn't and Cora has to use up Houck in game 1..that wouldn't be good. Cora is a good manger, but some of his decisions don't make sense at times, like not pinch running for Vaz when he was on 2nd, but does when on 3rd. Yes, it worked..but didn't make sense.
I don't see a downside to starting Sale in Game 1. Best case scenario is he pitches well and they win. Worst-case scenario, you have to use Houck or Pivetta relatively early, but both should be rested enough to go a few innings, and then you have Eovaldi in Game 2, who is the team's best bet at giving them length. If you reverse it, what happens if Eovaldi gets yanked early? Then you're in the position of starting Sale with one of PIvetta/Houck having thrown a bunch of pitches the day before.
 

wiffleballhero

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I, for one, am glad it is Sale. It essentially confirms my hope up thread -- that they push everyone back and get an extra day of rest and go forward with the best situation for them winning.

And yeah, it strikes me as entirely fair that they can see things about Sale's arm, strength and feel that trump what we've been able to see from the outside in recent weeks.
 

ricopetro6

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I don't see a downside to starting Sale in Game 1. Best case scenario is he pitches well and they win. Worst-case scenario, you have to use Houck or Pivetta relatively early, but both should be rested enough to go a few innings, and then you have Eovaldi in Game 2, who is the team's best bet at giving them length. If you reverse it, what happens if Eovaldi gets yanked early? Then you're in the position of starting Sale with one of PIvetta/Houck having thrown a bunch of pitches the day before.
If Nate gets yanked early then they are not winning the series, so it doesn't matter. I wish I had more confidence in Sale, but he hasn't been good and now is facing a very good offense, RH heavy.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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I love this move. If he’s good Sale, it pays off. If he sucks again it’s not like Cora is going to leave him out there.
 

joe dokes

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caving to Sale's reputation and possibly having a mopey Sale if he's pushed back to game 3 or 4. Nate is your clear #1, you start him game 1 to set the tone. Maybe it works out, but if it doesn't and Cora has to use up Houck in game 1..that wouldn't be good. Cora is a good manger, but some of his decisions don't make sense at times, like not pinch running for Vaz when he was on 2nd, but does when on 3rd. Yes, it worked..but didn't make sense.
The pinch runner was just explained. TBH, if every move a manager made perfect sense at the time to people like us, then the manager would probably suck. He already pulled Sale after 1 inning -- I dont think he gives a crap about Sale's "reputation" and there's no way he'd make the game 1 decision based on that. And just what has happened to suggest that Sale would be "mopey" if pushed back?

I'm usually on Team "go with your best guy in Game 1," but stuff like "caving" and "mopey" is such baseless nonsense.
It's far more likely that Cora is betting on the Astros or throwing the series because he has gambling debts.
 

effectivelywild

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I, for one, am glad it is Sale. It essentially confirms my hope up thread -- that they push everyone back and get an extra day of rest and go forward with the best situation for them winning.

And yeah, it strikes me as entirely fair that they can see things about Sale's arm, strength and feel that trump what we've been able to see from the outside in recent weeks.
The Athletic had an article this morning that talked about how Eovaldi had been working with Sale to try to help him with his mechanics. Eovaldi was saying that when he would come back from TJ surgery, he noticed it was easy for his mechanics to get slightly out of whack in the months after he returned and that it could be difficult for him to pin down but he was able to work through it. He also said that Sale is more of a "grip it and rip it" guy so he may not be as attuned to his mechanics, but that Eovaldi had identified some things mechanically that seemed out of sync and that Sale had worked on them. Could be nothing, obviously, but Eovaldi is as good of an expert on pitching after TJ as you can find, likely (did you know he is #3 on the all time list of most games started after a second TJ surgery?)
 

lexrageorge

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If Sale is healthy, there was zero chance that he would not be starting one of the first 3 games of this series. Sale may or not be effective, but the same could be said for the other starters as well. Ed Rod pitched poorly in Game 1 against the Rays, but was really good in Game 5.
 

RobertsSteal

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He already pulled Sale after 1 inning -- I dont think he gives a crap about Sale's "reputation" and there's no way he'd make the game 1 decision based on that. And just what has happened to suggest that Sale would be "mopey" if pushed back?
Exactly.We don’t have to go back more than a week for the truth on this.
It's far more likely that Cora is betting on the Astros or throwing the series because he has gambling debts.
And this might be the worst and funniest truth of all.
 

cantor44

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I don't see a downside to starting Sale in Game 1. Best case scenario is he pitches well and they win. Worst-case scenario, you have to use Houck or Pivetta relatively early, but both should be rested enough to go a few innings, and then you have Eovaldi in Game 2, who is the team's best bet at giving them length. If you reverse it, what happens if Eovaldi gets yanked early? Then you're in the position of starting Sale with one of PIvetta/Houck having thrown a bunch of pitches the day before.
I think this works both ways though. If Eovaldi pitches well in Game 1, then you've got a largely full bullpen to back up Sale if he craps the bed in Game 2, with the off day after. And if Eovladi does well in Game 1 and the Sox win, they can absorb a bad performance by Sale the next game, or really give it to the Astros if Sale pitches well.

Of course, either pitcher could pitch well or poorly. But I think we all know the odds are higher that Sale pitches poorly. Saving what might more likely be a heavy pen day seems smarter in Game 2. And If you're going to use 4 starters, the game 2 pitcher also has 5 days of rest between starts rather than 4.

I don't really get this and it feels like a mistake to me. I certainly hope I'm wrong!
 

Max Power

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If Houck or Pivetta have to be used in a long outing to back up Sale, you want it to happen in game 1 so they have an extra day of rest in advance of their next appearance. With the off day after game 2, it's possible they could be available again in game 3.
 

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And If you're going to use 4 starters, the game 2 pitcher also has 5 days of rest between starts rather than 4.
Which allows you to use your Game 2 starter for a couple innings in game 4, which should be a throw day. With regular rest due to off days, it's harder to get that out of your Game 1 starter.
 

OnTheBlack

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If Houck or Pivetta have to be used in a long outing to back up Sale, you want it to happen in game 1 so they have an extra day of rest in advance of their next appearance. With the off day after game 2, it's possible they could be available again in game 3.
This is the correct answer. Sale has higher liklihood of bullpen usage behind him. You want that in game 1 when the pen is fully rested, your ace coming up in game 2, and you have an off day between 2 and 3.

If Sale pitches poorly in game 2, you've burned your long guys for game 3. It's about negating that risk.
 

nvalvo

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If Sale found his changeup in the pen — which they are saying he did, along with improvements to his fastball command — then he is a worthy game one starter, suitable to go toe to toe with Framber. We're supposed to have people in the org who can tell what a good changeup looks like in a bullpen session.

If he didn't find it, or it doesn't stick, well, he'll get roughed up again by the Stros righties.
 
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I don't see a downside to starting Sale in Game 1. Best case scenario is he pitches well and they win. Worst-case scenario, you have to use Houck or Pivetta relatively early, but both should be rested enough to go a few innings, and then you have Eovaldi in Game 2, who is the team's best bet at giving them length. If you reverse it, what happens if Eovaldi gets yanked early? Then you're in the position of starting Sale with one of PIvetta/Houck having thrown a bunch of pitches the day before.
But when do you pull Sale? When they score 3 runs? 5?
 

BaseballJones

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People have given some good reasons for the Sale decision in game 1. Let me add this possibility: If Eovaldi starts game 1 and they lose (even if he pitches well), you’re in more dire straits for a game 2 win, and I’m not sure Sale is the guy. If Sale loses game 1, at least you have your best starter going game 2 and it gives you the best chance to go home with a split instead of down two games to none.

So game 2 might be more “important” than game 1, hence Eovaldi there instead of game 1.

I dunno...spitballing here.
 

JimD

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Alex Cora's pitching usage has been masterful through four playoff series and a wild-card game. I think he and the Sox braintrust have earned the benefit of the doubt on their plans to start this series.
 

cantor44

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After the Sox beat the Yankees in the WC game, I felt, quite sincerely, fan-satisfied. After 2020, the grind and agony of the last two months of the regular season, this, to me, made for a "victorious" 2021. I figured, damn, I'm going into the ALDS with no expectation, no worries, they'll probably lose and I'll just watch the games in a relaxed way.

And those games freaked me the fuck out. Losing leads in games 3 and 4, only to come back with walk-off wins. The emotional roller coaster was only beat by those extra inning games in the 2004 ALCS (and game 7 2003). I lost hair, I lost weight, I paced around the house, I suddenly became religious, then lost that religion, then regained it. I was INVESTED in them beating the Rays. Goddamnit, they could DO it.

After the Sox beat the Rays in the ALDS, I felt fan-satisfied. This, to me, made for a "victorious" 2021. So, I'm going into the ALCS with no expectations, no worries, they'll probably lose and I can watch the games in a relaxed way ....




(pu pu pu)
 

Hank Scorpio

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Fangraphs Preview is out, and the takeaway might surprise you:

View attachment 45297
Interesting that we're slightly favored to win if the series goes four, five, or six, but the Astros are favored if it goes seven.

Through four, we've had the series split at two games home, and two away - and we're favored. If the series goes five, it means we've enjoyed HFA, and we're still favored, slightly moreso than a sweep. Six, we're even again, and still favored. Seven, the Astros have HFA, and are somewhat more heavily favored to win.

Not sure how much of this is based on projected pitching matchups, especially in game 7, which no one has any idea on at this point - but to me the numbers say that Fangraphs projections think we're the better team, whose chances are only hampered by the Astros having HFA and the game coming down to a mystery matchup in Game 7.

I honestly think the series comes down to the offense's approach to the Astros pitching. Over the course of the season, they've gone through fits of sitting on pitches middle-middle, but swinging at crap on 0-0 and 0-1 pitches. The past few games, they've been pretty good about not doing either of those things. They're capable of knocking the shit out of these guys.
 

The Filthy One

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But when do you pull Sale? When they score 3 runs? 5?
I think they will know very quickly whether Sale can compete or not and it won't be entirely tied to how many runs he's given up. Is he getting swings and misses from right-handed batters on the change up and slider? Are the Astros hitting rockets all over the place, even if they are for outs?
 

The Filthy One

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People have given some good reasons for the Sale decision in game 1. Let me add this possibility: If Eovaldi starts game 1 and they lose (even if he pitches well), you’re in more dire straits for a game 2 win, and I’m not sure Sale is the guy. If Sale loses game 1, at least you have your best starter going game 2 and it gives you the best chance to go home with a split instead of down two games to none.

So game 2 might be more “important” than game 1, hence Eovaldi there instead of game 1.

I dunno...spitballing here.
This is essentially the point I was trying to make. Every game is important, but the sequencing you describe here makes sense to me.
 

OurF'ingCity

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People have given some good reasons for the Sale decision in game 1. Let me add this possibility: If Eovaldi starts game 1 and they lose (even if he pitches well), you’re in more dire straits for a game 2 win, and I’m not sure Sale is the guy. If Sale loses game 1, at least you have your best starter going game 2 and it gives you the best chance to go home with a split instead of down two games to none.

So game 2 might be more “important” than game 1, hence Eovaldi there instead of game 1.

I dunno...spitballing here.
I had the same thought. We think about bullpen choices in the context of in-game leverage, but it also makes sense to think about starter choices in the context of in-series leverage. Game 1 is virtually always going to be lower-leverage than Game 2, so it makes sense to put a potentially riskier choice in Game 1 vs. Game 2 if you have the choice.
 

E5 Yaz

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I haven't seen officially. But I have seen these players listed as being with the team: Jonathan Arauz, Matt Barnes, Connor Wong, Edward Bazardo, Connor Seabold, Charlie Madden, Jarren Duran
And I guess Davis makes 8 ... so one spot remaining?
 

joe dokes

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I haven't seen officially. But I have seen these players listed as being with the team: Jonathan Arauz, Matt Barnes, Connor Wong, Edward Bazardo, Connor Seabold, Charlie Madden, Jarren Duran
This is literally the first time I've seen the name "Charlie Madden" in connection with this team.
 

RedOctober3829

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This is literally the first time I've seen the name "Charlie Madden" in connection with this team.
He is in essence an extra bullpen catcher, but he works closely with the pitchers and helps them look at video. He worked closely with Tanner Houck during the pandemic shutdown as they both lived in Atlanta at the time. He is viewed by the FO as a potential coach.

https://www.masslive.com/redsox/2021/10/charlie-madden-caught-boston-red-soxs-game-2-star-tanner-houck-in-church-lot-has-helped-him-break-down-analytics.html