Three Things the Astros Need to do to Win the Pennant
In order for the Houston Astros to win the American League Pennant there are three things this club needs to do after the New York Yankees have stormed back to even the series at two.
1). Starters Going Deep Into Games
Coming into this series and examining the match-ups the one thing that really stood out was that the Yankees bullpen is significantly stronger than the Astros. With that being said, you knew you needed your starters to go deeper into games than New York would need to. We saw length in game one and two from Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander and the Astros were able to be successful. However, in games 3 and 4 we saw Charlie Morton allow 7 runs in 3.2 innings and then Lance McCullers cruise through 6 innings only to be pulled, but we'll get into that next. The Astros pen just can't overcome having to pitch too many innings, game 4's loss hurt as the bullpen allowed five runs late in the game and eventually lost. It'll start in game 5, if Keuchel can control the Yankees through at least seven innings I think Houston will grab a victory and control in the series.
2). A.J. Hinch Has to Have Trust in his Starters
Namely the one's who aren't Dallas Keuchel or Justin Verlander. As far as Charlie Morton goes in game 3 there was nothing Hinch could do, he had to get him out of that game. With Lance McCullers in game 4 he was cruising through six innings having only thrown 81 pitches, allowed two hits, and one run which came off the bat of the mighty Aaron Judge. There was absolutely no reason to pull him from that game, especially with a 4-1 lead. Afterwards Hinch told the media he liked the match-ups against the left handers with reliever Chris Devenski facing them rather than McCullers. I honestly thought he should have given him a chance to get through the lefties and if he got into trouble then you go to Devenski. We saw Hinch do the same thing in game 3 of the ALDS with Brad Peacock where he went to the hook way too soon. He needs to trust his starters and realize that he can't ask his bullpen to get too many outs.
3). Astros Need to Find Their Bats
As a unit, the Astros hitters are batting a combined .153 in this ALCS with a team on-base percentage of .254. In addition, the most hits they've put together in a game so far this series has been six and that happened just once in game one. Since then it's gotten worse and worse, from five hits, to four, and in the last game they were only able to muster three hits. But they were able to take advantage of three Yankees errors to plate four runs. This is a unit that led the league all year in most offensive categories and they haven't gotten it together yet in this ALCS. If they want to advance and win the American League Pennant, they've got to figure it out quick, fast and in a hurry.