Will the lack of DH hamper the Astros in the World Series playing in Los Angeles?
The Houston Astros will be doing something they have not done since 2005. They will be playing in the 2017 World Series. Had any other team won the National League, the Astros would have had home-field advantage. Unfortunately, they will be facing the Dodgers who won 104 games this year, meaning they have home-field advantage.
This could end up being a big issue for the Astros playing four games in Los Angeles. While at Dodger Stadium, both teams will play under National League rules meaning no designated hitters. At first glance, this could be a big issue for the Astros with their pitchers hitting, which they have not done much this year.
But is it a big deal?
This season, the Astros have only had 12 games where the pitcher had to bat. Because they don’t hit that often, in 30 at-bats, they have only had three hits for a .100 batting average. Two of those hits came from Brad Peacock, one double and single, while the other a double by J.D. Davis. Only one of those will be on the playoff roster, but Peacock will most likely be in the bullpen.
However, if Peacock is used as a long-reliever, he could get a few at-bats this series. The pitchers to get the most at-bats will most likely be Dallas Keuchel (.086 avg in 44 at-bats) and Justin Verlander (.093 avg in 43 at-bats). Keuchel will likely hit in Game 1 and Verlander will hit in Game 2 and 6 in Los Angeles.
Depending on who starts Game 4, they will also play Game 7 if needed. Lance McCullers has one hit in eight career at-bats, and Charlie Morton had 19 hits in 300 at-bats. Morton might get the nod in Game 7 if needed with his experience at the plate, but the Dodgers pitchers have to hit as well. The Dodgers have a .114 batting average this season in 280 at-bats.
No designated hitter.
While the Astros could play a max of four games in Los Angeles, the designated hitter’s spot has not been a strength this postseason. Their designated hitters are batting .211 with a .674 OPS with one homer, Evan Gattis‘ homer in Game 7 of the ALCS. The typical DHs, Carlos Beltran and Gattis, will have to contribute as a pinch hitter.
Hopefully, the pitchers paid attention during the bunting drills this Spring. The worst thing that a pitcher can do is ground into a double play to end an inning. While this takes a bat out of the lineup, it does the same for the Dodgers. How will it play out, we will find out Tuesday at 7 pm CT. We will be able to return to National League style of play versus an old foe in the Dodgers.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and ESPN***