Houston Astros: World Series Preview Against Atlanta Braves

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Houston Astros, Ryne Stanek, Brooks Raley
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Astros’ and Braves’ bullpens look to be of the same value.

The bullpens seem pretty evenly matched, while both have performed extremely well in this postseason. Their numbers are almost identical in all categories with the exception of saves and save opportunities.

While the Braves’ bullpen has converted four of five save opportunities, the Astros have converted one of just one. That’s a misleading number.

As obviously if there was a runner up for ALCS MVP to Yordan Alvarez, it would be the Astros’ bullpen, which threw 32.2 innings giving up 11 earned runs. None of which came in the final three games of the series, essentially saving Houston’s season.

Cristian Javier has a case for an under-the-radar co-MVP, as he has been amazing coming in and eating innings without giving up anything. He’s pitched the sixth most innings this post season of any reliever at 7.2, giving up zero runs, three hits, four walks and 13 strikeouts.

His impact may not yield big time highlights, but he was absolutely essential to the Astros’ Game 4 turnaround keeping the game in reach. They will most likely once again factor in to helping the Astros should their starters struggle in the World Series.

The biggest weakness for the Astros is obviously their left-handed relieving. Brooks Raley and Blake Taylor are fine, but there’s a reason manager Dusty Baker has used Phil Maton over those two to get lefties out.

Maton has made seven appearances compared to six total for the two Astros lefties. In fairness Blake Taylor was not on the ALDS roster, but the reason he was left off was because of Maton’s ability to neutralize lefty bats from the right side.

The Braves bullpen has been just as lockdown and relies heavily on the trio of Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith to finish off games. Of the 10 postseason games the Braves have played, Matzek has pitched in nine, Jackson in eight and Smith in seven.

Matzek has only given up two earned runs in 10.1 innings, and Smith has yet to allow a run in his seven innings of work. Jackson appears to be the most vulnerable of their top tier relievers, as he started the postseason strong but gave up two big inherited runners (the only two earned runs Matzek has on his ledger) in Game2two of the NLCS.

This allowed the Dodgers to tie that game in the eighth inning, before the Braves walked it off in the ninth. Then in Game 3 of the NLCS, he gave up four runs as the Dodgers rallied in the eighth inning to avoid a 3-0 series deficit.

All-in-all, the bullpens seem to be evenly matched so we’ll call this a draw.