Game 4: Cristian Javier/Hunter Brown piggyback
Game 4 is when anything can happen. On paper, Javier and Brown should be elite. They both have great stuff and were expected to perform like it this season.
But the games aren't played on paper.
Through 11 games, Javier looked like the pitcher of last year. It's hard to believe he held the lethal Braves to one run on three hits across six innings with 10 strikeouts this year.
June hit, fatigue set in, mechanics broke down, and Javier became a shell of himself. His fastball no longer is an "invisiball" and his slider is getting teed off on. He now holds a 4.78 ERA on the season.
Brown holds an identical 4.78 ERA. He strikes out more batters than Javier, and still has put together some good performances during his slump, but hasn't been able to string multiple good outings back-to-back.
The Astros starters for Games 1,2 and 3 consistently put together quality starts. The bullpen should be in a good spot heading into Game 4.
The Astros need to rely on their strengths in Game 4: their offense and bullpen. Let Javier go through the order one time and Brown one time. From there, turn it over to the bullpen. Jose Urquidy may even have a turn if he hasn't thrown in the first three games. They just need to get to the fifth with the game close.
Houston could land the plane with Maton, Graveman, Neris, Abreu, and Pressly.
It's for the most part unchartered territory for the Astros. Whereas teams like the Rays employ "bullpen games" all year, Houston has for the most part had starters to rely on throughout their playoff runs.
If they're to make noise this year, it's going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to win Game 4 of each series.