3. The Bullpen CAN Get It Done
Oct 6, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Luke Gregerson (44) reacts after closing out the ninth inning against the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Houston won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Despite Keuchel’s elite performance last night, Astros fans never got comfortable knowing that eventually the one game dual would be handled over to the struggling bullpen. The bullpen cost the team multiple wins over the month of September and pretty much handed the A.L. West Champion pennant over to the Rangers. Hinch first handed the game over to Tony Sipp. He struggled early on falling behind in counts and allowing a walk. But, Sipp kept his poise. He fought back in the count in multiple at bats to strike out one and shut down the Yankees lineup. You could easily see Sipp’s emotion throughout his pitching performance. Hinch then handed it to Will Harris and Luke Gregerson to retire the final six Yankees.
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Yes, the bullpen has had its struggles over the past month. But, the majority of the season this bullpen was as good as anybody not named their upcoming opponent. The bullpen might not be on the same elite level as the Royals. But, if the Astros can have dominate starting pitching along with getting ahead early in the game, the bullpen can get it done. If the bullpen can handle the rest of the postseason in the same fashion as last night, the Astros have a real chance to reach their first World Series since their 2005 sweep by the White Sox.
Next: Defense is Critical Part of Postseason Path