Justin Verlander‘s ALDS Game One outing left the pitching staff in good shape moving forward.
One of the biggest challenges a manager will face in the postseason is handling his pitching staff. You want to get the most out of your hurlers, but at the same time don’t want to overwork them. For the Astros and AJ Hinch, it helps when Justin Verlander takes the ball to start things out in the ALDS.
Verlander’s seven sterling innings in Game One gave Hinch the luxury of not having to burn through the bullpen. He only used three relievers, and none for more than one inning of work. He should essentially have a full slate of available pitchers for Saturday’s game.
It doesn’t hurt when you have Gerrit Cole taking the ball in Game Two either. Cole hasn’t lost since May and has been arguably the game’s best pitcher over the past four months. If he can give the Astros a good six or seven innings, they’ll be in pristine shape following the off day on Sunday.
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The Rays may not have quite the same luxury. They used four relievers on Friday, with starter Tyler Glasnow lasting only 4.1 innings. Their starter for Saturday, Blake Snell, made just three starts in late September after missing nearly two months.
His longest outing in those last three starts was just 2.1 innings. The Rays were building his pitch count up, as he threw 62 pitches in his final start. Still, it’s unlikely he’ll be in line to throw 100 pitches like his Astros counterpart.
Astros relief ace Ryan Pressly came into a 6-0 game in the eighth inning on Friday and proceeded to give up two runs on four hits while recording just two outs. Will Harris came in to clean up the mess, recording the final out of the inning.
Given that Pressly struggled and threw 18 pitches, I would anticipate him not being used in Game Two unless it’s absolutely necessary. He should be ready to go for Game Three on Monday. Harris only threw five pitches, so he’ll be available. Roberto Osuna should be available as well after throwing a perfect inning on 12 pitches.
First pitch for ALDS Game Two is slated for 8:05 p.m. on FS1. Game Three will start at 12:05 p.m. on Monday.