Who is the Game 3 or 4 starters for the Houston Astros?
When the Dodgers announced their four starters for the World Series, you expected that the Astros would reciprocate. With no surprise, A.J. Hinch has been uncommitted as to who would start Game 3 or 4 of the World Series Friday and Saturday. Dallas Keuchel will get things started tonight at Dodgers Stadium versus Clayton Kershaw. As I wrote last night, Keuchel will set the tone for the series.
Justin Verlander, fresh off being named the MVP of the ALCS, will take the ball for Game 2. He will face the talented Rich Hill, who has pitched well versus the Astros in the past. Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran have hit homers against him in his career. Why start him in Game 2, because it gives the Astros two straight lefties to face and it worked against the Cubs in the NLCS.
In Game 3, the Dodgers will break the three lefties up with Yu Darvish. The Astros have seen their highs and lows versus Darvish while he was with the Rangers. The Dodgers will throw their third lefty starter in Game 4 when Alex Wood takes the mound. There was a time that the Houston hitters would groan when they were facing a lefty starter, but they fared well versus the Red Sox pitchers.
According to Brian McTaggart, Hinch indicated as to who the other two starters would during media day. He mentioned that Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers would start games 3 or 4, just not sure which one yet. Hinch likes to have a feel for the best starter for a particular game depending on the situation. Both Morton and McCullers pitched on Saturday, so both will be on the same days of rest.
Both of them pitch better at home. Morton has experience versus the Dodgers, while McCullers has faced them once in his career.
What is Hinch waiting for?
Let’s say that the Astros win both games in Los Angeles, Hinch may decide to go with Morton with his performance in Game 7 of the ALCS. They would then use McCullers to close out the series potentially. Maybe if they lose one or both games in Los Angeles, they will want the dominant stuff of McCullers on the mound to turn things around. Whoever pitches Game 3 would also be lined up to pitch a potential Game 7.
It actually works well that the Dodgers have homefield advantage because it gives Morton and McCullers the chance to pitch at home. Then Keuchel would pitch Game 5, if needed, in Houston. If needed, Verlander will get the ball for Game 6. As part of McCullers appearance in Game 7 of the ALCS, he relied on his curveball. He showed the potential to be a big game pitcher for the Astros, but so did Morton.
I’m guessing that the Astros would throw McCullers Friday night before the home crowd. This will only be the third World Series game played at Minute Maid Park, McCullers could electrify the crowd. It could come down to who feels the best at the moment and will depend on what happened in the first two games in Los Angeles. We should know after Game 2 or sooner, let’s hope Keuchel get’s us off to a great start.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***