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Thursday, October 31, 2019

‘We’re World Series champions’: How a six-man unit of Nationals pitchers slayed the Astros’ lineup – The Athletic

One thing I’ve learned over the years is, winning a playoff series doesn’t mean the better overall team won. Luck plays a much bigger role than people realize. I’m not saying not to appreciate the victory. I’m saying the narratives attached to those victories don’t usually match the outcomes.

“Everybody thinks they’re a better team,” Hudson said as he sipped a Budweiser after the game. “And we’re World Series champions. Baseball is not played on paper. It’s just a fluky game, a funny game.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 31, 2019 at 11:40 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, nationals, world series

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 31, 2019 at 07:53 PM (#5897583)
I'm not even sure who the 6th pitcher is supposed to be -- I assume the first 5 are Strasburg, Scherzer, Corbin, Doolittle ... and Hudson(?) who gave up 4 R in 4 IP? Guerra? Suero? (This being an issue with linking to paywall articles and not giving the rest of us enough description to spur discussion.)

Anyway, Hudson tossed just 4 innings, Doolittle just 3, Guerra 3. Across 7 games, that's not a lot. Scherzer and Corbin were solid but not spectacular. Overall the Nats had a 4.29 ERA which, against the Astros, is pretty good but not exactly "slaying." They did rock up big in Gs 6 and 7 obviously. Interesting note, only two saves in the series, one of those a 3-run save. In nearly every game, one bullpen gave up the game and the other didn't let the them back in. Basically each game, one bullpen "collapsed under the pressure" meaning that the other pen didn't have to pitch under pressure.

If I added right, the Nats' pen overall threw 18.1 IP and gave up 10 runs, leaving the starters at 44.2 and 20. Doolittle and Suero (1.2 IP) are the only relievers who clearly did well, Guerra had good results but 6 H and just 1 K across 3 innings suggests some luck was involved. The supposedly vaunted Astros' pen was much worse -- 21.1 IP, 17 R, 14 ER. Granted 8 of those runs came in just 3 innings in G2 but that still leaves them mediocre the rest of the time.

If I was going to point to a "can you believe?" bit in this series, beyond the road team thing, I'd probably go with Verlander getting knocked around a bit and losing twice. But that's partly balanced by a guy I'd never heard of (Urquidy) pitching a great game.

Once the parade is finished, the Nats have to turn their attention to Rendon and Strasburg.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: October 31, 2019 at 08:07 PM (#5897584)
Last year's Dodgers' pen was terrible (23 IP, 14 ER) not that it would have mattered (and Sox pen did very well). In 2017, the Astros pen (27.2, 18) was terrible and the Dodgers' pen (35, 15 ... and that includes Kershaw's 4/0) was mediocre (and Darvish terrible). In 2016, the Cubs went 26/14 and Cleveland's pen was 33/14 with both pens doing terribly in G7.

Maybe the current post-season pitcher usage strategy isn't working too well.
   3. puck Posted: October 31, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5897592)
It's Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Sanchez, Doolittle and Hudson, despite mixed results for some of those guys:

The Washington Nationals threw 153 innings this postseason. The aforementioned sextet completed 127 2/3 of those. In the four games Washington won against Houston, they pitched 32 2/3 of the 36 innings.
   4. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: October 31, 2019 at 10:33 PM (#5897620)
By putting tons of runners on base and inducing hard contact for outs.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 31, 2019 at 10:46 PM (#5897622)
Hudson said as he sipped a Budweiser after the game.
Why do players have such horrible taste in beer? You literally never hear of anyone drinking anything even halfway decent after a game.
   6. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 31, 2019 at 11:36 PM (#5897631)
Good trivia question: Who made the 5th most starts for the World Champion Washington Nationals?

They had probably the best rotation in the NL, with three "aces" in Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin (#2, #4 and #6 in the NL in bWAR; #2, #3 and #6 in fWAR), and a very good #4 in Sanchez, who made 30 starts and had 3.7 bWAR.

But the "5th starter" role was split between 4 guys, starting 12, 9, 8, and 8 games. Only one of them pitched in the postseason, and he was the guy with 9 starts. Who made 12 starts?
   7. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 31, 2019 at 11:55 PM (#5897634)
Erik Fredde? (if it's indeed spelled that way; I'm going from memory)
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 01, 2019 at 12:09 AM (#5897635)
   9. Walt Davis Posted: November 01, 2019 at 12:38 AM (#5897637)
The Washington Nationals threw 153 innings this postseason. The aforementioned sextet completed 127 2/3 of those.

Now if you want to talk about their performance across the entire postseason, that's of course a different kettle of fish for me to throw on the barbie -- and I'll put the blame on the headline writer. But first ...

In the four games Washington won against Houston, they pitched 32 2/3 of the 36 innings

Well, sure. In the games they won, the Nats gave up just 11 runs. Anyway, the G1 "surprise" was one inning of relief from Corbin. Then with a 5-2 lead another "surprise" with Tanner Rainey coming on to pitch the 7th. That didn't go well but Hudson managed to wiggle out of it with just one run across. Hudson then stayed on for the 8th that didn't go very well but Doolittle came on to get the last out with the tying run at 2nd. Doolittle got through the 9th with two balls to "deep CF" (per the boxscore).

G2 turned into a laugher but Strasburg certainly pitched well and left with the game tied 2-2. (Well, he "left" with the score 8-2 but you know what I mean.) G6 was nearly a complete game for Strasburg. G7 saw Corbin as the big relief hero.

So in the games they won:

Strasburg 14.1 IP, 4 R
Scherzer 10 IP, 4 R
Corbin 4 IP, 0 R (all relief, close games)
Hudson 2.1 IP, 1 R (1 IP with a big lead)
Doolittle 2 IP, 0 R (0.2 IP with a big lead)
Sanchez 0 IP

How about "in their wins, Strasburg and Corbin shut down the Astros bats while Doolittle and Scherzer did their jobs." Corbin and Sanchez were not good in their starts, Hudson was poor in his other appearances.

Now, for the full postseason:

Corbin -- 5.79 ERA in 3 starts and 5 relief
Scherzer -- 2.40 in 5 starts and 1 relief
Strasburg -- 2.00 (1 UER) in 5 starts and 1 relief
Sanchez -- 2.50 in 3 starts
Hudson -- 3.72 in 9.2 relief IP ... all 4 runs in the WS
Doolittle -- 1.64 in 10.1 relief IP

Not much to complain about there so, yes, prior to the WS everybody but Corbin was dealing. Hudson floundered a bit in the WS but Corbin did well in his relief spots.

To the extent the usage was different than pretty much any other team uses in the playoffs, it would be Corbin's fairly heavy usage as a reliever while also making 1 start per series and Sanchez pitching reasonably deep into his starts (by today's playoff standard of pulling your #4 starter after 5 at most). We all know this is what happens in the playoffs -- the #5 starter disappears, the #4 guys starts just one per series unless necessary, as many relief IP as possible are given to the top 2-3 relievers, relievers are often called on for more than one inning, starters are often called on for some relief.

We can contrast this to the 2016 WS that I oddly know best. Andrew Miller threw 19.1 innings in 2016, nearly the same total as Hudson and Doolittle combined. Cody Allen added another 13.2. Of course Cleveland's rotation was in a shambles by that point. We could look at the Cubs who used Chapman for 15.2 and Montgomery for 14.1 (and avoided every other reliever as much as possible). But other than Lester's G7 appearance, none of the SPs appeared in relief. Still their 4 starters and 2 relievers covered 52.1 of 63 innings in the WS. In the 4 wins, they pitched 35 innings.

Still, blame probably goes to the headline writer. That sextet certainly pitched very well across the postseason as a whole.
   10. spycake Posted: November 01, 2019 at 07:00 AM (#5897661)
Why do players have such horrible taste in beer? You literally never hear of anyone drinking anything even halfway decent after a game.

I am guessing the postgame exclusivity of Budweiser was sponsorship-related, at least in this specific case.
   11. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 01, 2019 at 07:56 AM (#5897664)
Erik Fredde? (if it's indeed spelled that way; I'm going from memory)

Yep, that's right (well, close enough: Erick Fedde). I swear I hadn't heard of him until today, though he was a first-round draft pick and made the lower tier of some top 100 prospect rankings.

He wasn't bad, but very nondescript: 4.50 ERA, 0.5 WAA, .503 162WL%.
   12. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 01, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5897722)
Doolittle and Hudson combined to allow 6 runs in exactly 20 postseason innings. That's a 2.70 ERA against a collection of well-above-average offenses.

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