World Series 2017

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World Series 2017 Live

World SeriesGame 7 – Series tied 3-3

What: Game 7, 2017 World Series

Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

When: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017

Time: 8 p.m. Eastern

2017 World Series

LOS ANGELES — Given that the Astros took a 3-2 series lead into Tuesday night’s game at Dodger Stadium, they’re obviously disappointed to see the series advance to a seventh and deciding game. If you take a step back from the tangled mess that is the 2017 Fall Classic, however, you can say the Astros should feel rather fortunate that they’ve lasted this long. That’s because the bullpen — such a vital fulcrum in the contemporary postseason — has been a massive liability for the Astros in this World Series.

Game 6 did not offer the most acute example of Houston relief woes, although it still wasn’t good. Joe Musgrove, Luke Gregerson, and Francisco Liriano combined to allow one run on two hits in two innings with three strikeouts and a walk. That comes to a 4.50 ERA, which isn’t good. It is, however, a notable improvement, which says more about the recent past than it does the Houston bullpen’s performance in Game 6. Fathom, if you will, the Astros’ bullpen numbers through the first five games against the Dodgers:

Yep, coming in Tuesday night, they’d allowed 16 runs in 19 innings. If you knew that and nothing else coming into the World Series, you very likely would’ve predicted an L.A. sweep or five games at the most. Instead, we’re headed to seven, thanks mostly to the series-record-tying 14 home runs the Astros have hit. As for the pen, throw in the Game 6 crank by Joc Pederson off Musgrove in the seventh, and they’ve now given up six homers in 21 innings. That comes to 2.6 homers allowed per nine, and that’s exactly what you don’t want from guys tasked with pitching important bridge and late innings.

During the regular season, the bullpen outputs couldn’t have been more different. The Houston relief corps ranked fourth in the AL in runs per game, fourth in save percentage, and second in strikeouts as a percentage of batters faced. As well, they were one of just six bullpens in all of baseball to put up a cumulative WAR of more than 5.0. On an individual level, Will Harris, Chris Devenski, and Ken Giles were all very good to excellent during the regular season, and Musgrove was a shutdown guy since moving from the rotation to the bullpen in mid July.

The thing with relievers, though, is that they traffic in moments, in tiny samples, and the short run can be unduly kind or unduly cruel to them. For the Houston collective this World Series, it’s been very much the latter. What’s also notable is that the Astros’ terrible World Series bullpen numbers get even worse if you confine your focus to the team’s three core relievers. Through these six games, Musgrove, Devenski, and Giles have combined to allow 12 runs in 9 1/3 innings. Of the Dodgers’ 10 home runs in this World Series, half have come off those three relievers.

If there’s good news for the Astros’ bullpen and their recent homer proclivities, it’s that cooler temps and nightfall in the later innings mean that the ball won’t be as likely to take to wing in Dodger Stadium in Game 7. That’s a two-way dynamic, though, in that it also means that the Houston offense may have more trouble running into one.

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