Astros: Everything is Awesome! Ken Giles Version
By Ric Sweeney
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! FACTOR #1:
No one likes giving the opponent credit; it reeks of excuse-making. But for a pitcher like Giles, who thrives on hitters chasing his nasty slider outside the strike zone (.371 OPS against this year), patient offenses were his kryptonite. And few were as patient as the Yankees, who ranked third in both team on-base percentage and walks, and the Dodgers, who ranked sixth and first.
After inducing swings on 50% of his sliders in the regular season, that number fell to 45% in the LCS and World Series as the two teams consistently worked deeper counts (his pitch count per inning rose from 18.2 during the regular season to 22.9).
Relying on the fastballs.
This forced Giles to throw more fastballs (he threw fastballs 62% of the time to New York and Los Angeles as opposed to just 53% during the regular season). And, wow – did they feast – to the tune of 8-for-12 with two doubles and two home runs on batted fastballs.
Having said that, the vast majority of line-ups don’t feature the likes of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and/or Yasiel Puig.
Do the Astros need a closer to navigating heavy hitters? Of course. But that’s much easier said than done. There’s a reason the greatest pitcher of this generation (Clayton Kershaw) has a “postseason choke” narrative weighing down his career: it’s exponentially harder to be great in the playoffs.