Astros Manager A.J. Hinch Over Manages the Bullpen
It was the bottom of the third inning, two outs and Houston Astros starter Brad Peacock was pitching well with a 3-1 lead. He had allowed just the one run and struck out four batters, including the first two men he faced in the third inning.
The next man up was Boston's first baseman, Mitch Moreland who would double off of Peacock. Next, Hanley Ramirez, who's crushing the ball in the series, smashes a single to left and advances to second on an error by left fielder Marwin Gonzalez.
With just 50+ pitches under his belt and still holding a 3-2 lead, Houston Manager A.J. Hinch pulled his starter from the game with the lefty Rafael Devers coming to the plate. Who would he replace him with? Lefty, Francisco Liriano.
Lets take a second to analyze this move because it doesn't seem to make sense to me from a numbers or a baseball standpoint.
Rafael Devers is hitting .400 against left handed pitching this season with an extremely strong OPS of 1.074. Against right handed pitching, which Peacock is, he's hitting .250 with a more poultry .743 OPS. So, from a numbers standpoint this move doesn't seem to make much sense.
From a baseball standpoint it doesn't make sense to me because you're showing no faith in your starter to work through an inning while you still have the lead. Not to mention Liriano is a former starter, if Hinch had more faith in him and felt he was better than Peacock at this point in his career he would have had him in the starting rotation.
Now, I could see if you were down 3-0 in the game at that point, especially in the playoffs why you'd want to make the move. The fact of the matter is you still had the lead, you're up 2-0 in the series, regardless of the end result the move just doesn't make sense. I understand this "bullpen movement" that everybody's trying to implement where you rely more heavily on your pen in order to shorten the game and I don't hate it. However, in that specific situation there's no way you pull your starter with not only the lead in the game but lead in the series at 2-0.
Nevertheless, Hinch makes the move to pull Peacock and bring in Liriano to face Devers. I get it, hindsight is 20-20, and for the record when he made the move I didn't like it, no matter how it worked out.
Unfortunately for the Astros it did not work out. On the second pitch of the at-bat Liriano hung a slider and Devers deposited it over the wall in right field. And just like that the lead had evaporated and the Red Sox held a 4-3 advantage, a lead in which they would no relinquish in a 10-3 victory.
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