With the Astros up 3-1 in the series, is there a case to be made for not starting Justin Verlander in Game 5? Analysts are all over the place on this debate.
And most Astros fans are probably on the side of — Just finish the series. Let our boys come home and rest up for the next battle.
On the flip side, if the Astros lose Game 5 with Verlander on the mound, how do Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) pan out? Shouldn’t we just throw a bullpen game tonight and save JV for Game 6? In the event we can win with the bullpen instead, this saves JV for Game 1 of the WS.
This is the subject of much-exhausted debate. No matter what side of the coin you land, here’s some discussion to help us all trust in AJ Hinch‘s decision to start our #1 guy in Game 5.
Statistics weigh out that Verlander is 9% better on four days’ rest as opposed to five. If he goes here, he’s on normal rest for Game 2 of the WS, and he can pitch again in Game 6, both of which would be home games with a DH, so no need for him to hit or for a pinch hitter.
That would leave us with Gerrit Cole (.163 BA) and Zack Greinke (.225 BA) hitting in the NL, both of whom are better hitters than Verlander – 54% and 107%, respectively, in terms of league adjusted OPS. And this could allow for some serious differences over 4-5 ABs, or so, between those two starts.
Argument Number 1 eliminated.
This is JV’s 9th series-clinching game. Needless to say, he’s had a lot of success over the years in the previous eight.
In his previous eight starts, Verlander has compiled a 2.55 ERA over the course of 53 IP. His strikeout dominance also continues in the postseason to the tune of a 10.02 SO/9 and a 4.22 BB/K ratio.
This argument seems to now become moot.
If we had lost Game 4 of the series, there would be a better argument for not starting Verlander since we wouldn’t want to run the risk of losing tonight with him on the mound and then have to face elimination with a bullpen game (even though our bullpen has been lights out this postseason), or with Cole on short rest.
We won Game 4, so this argument goes away.
Over the past 40 years, 10 teams have come back from being down 3-1. Let’s just go for the jugular, keep our foot on the gas, and let’s not make it number 11.
Another check for the Verlander argument.
More than anything, we fans want the win tonight. To us, this is a MUST-win game. From that perspective, we need our #1 Ace on the mound because that gives us the best chance of closing out this series.
We can only play one game at a time. We cannot base our decisions for today’s game on a game that may or may not happen tomorrow. So #GoAstros! Let’s #TakeItBack. #InAJWeTrust
*Statistical and commentary contributions by Justin Putnal and Andrew Gleisner.