Welcome to Game 4 of the World Series, fellow Astros and baseball fans!
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the World Series, then you should know that the Astros currently hold a 2-1 lead over the Dodgers. If you didn’t already know that though, then why are you reading this blog?
The Astros enter Game 4 at Minute Maid Park with the hope of taking a 3-1 series lead over the Dodgers. This would then set up perhaps the most important home game in Astros’ history: Game 5 between Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw.
Wait, I am getting ahead of myself as the outcome of Game 4 hasn’t been decided.
Anyway, the Astros will be sending Charlie Morton on the mound to face off against left-hander Alex Wood later Saturday evening.
Morton has only accumulated 56 plate appearances against the current Dodgers roster. And two of these players, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson, are not on the World Series roster for Los Angeles.
Wood hasn’t seen much of the Astros for his carreer. In fact, he has only accumulated 16 plate appearances against the current Astros’ batters. And four were to Jake Marisnick, who is not on Houston’s World Series roster.
As one could tell, there isn’t much familiarity on either side in regards to their opposition’s starting pitchers. In this case, the Astros will need to hope that their success against any left-hander not named Kershaw continues – 120 wRC+ – tonight in Game 4.
Another factor in the Astros’ favor, in theory, is the state of the Dodgers bullpen.
Between Game 2 and Game 3, the Dodgers have used thirteen total relievers. Of course, you have to consider the time off in the postseason that isn’t afforded to teams in the regular season. In theory, this should make the possibility of an overwork issue slightly less worrisome for the Dodgers. But the worry that the bullpen may tire soon if Wood isn’t able to pitch deep into the game is real.
In other news, it appears that Yuli Gurriel was able to avoid serious punishment in the World Series. He is penciled in at first base and once again hitting fifth in the lineup on Saturday.
However, the Astros’ first baseman will be suspended for the first five games of the 2018 season with no pay.
Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, provided the following reasons behind Gurriel’s suspension and the timing.
Hopefully all parties involved can move on and carry on the World Series without further incident.
Houston will need to create pressure on Wood early like they did Darvish on Friday. If they can generate the same offensive pressure, then you have to like their chances at winning Game 4. Of course, this is the World Series. Crazy moments can happen at any time. We already witnessed that in Game 2 back in Los Angeles. With just two more wins separating the Astros first World Series title, the hope is they can put away the Dodgers in the next two games. Let’s hope for Houston’s sake, and blood pressure, that is the case.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs**