Bullpen Games for Braves: No Problem
The Braves will turn to “bullpen games” the next two days, after their starting rotation was sent into disarray with the broken leg to Charlie Morton.
But, in the words of Alfred E. Neuman, Braves manager Brian Snitker must be saying, “What me worry?”
Atlanta’s bullpen has been stellar this post-season. Closer Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, and Jesse Chavez have combined to pitch 27 innings out of the pen in the NLCS and World Series, and they’ve allowed only four earned runs (that’s a 1.33 ERA). The quartet are tireless and unflappable.
Snitker hasn’t announced his starter for Game 4 (will probably be Chavez or Drew Smyly), and Game 5 will also need an “opener” from among the group of Smyly, Luke Jackson, Dylan Lee, or maybe Kyle Wright. Of those names aren’t familiar to you, that’s the point: the Braves are using fairly unknown interchangeable pieces out of the bullpen, and it’s working.
The Astros have announced that Zack Greinke will start Game 4 on Saturday. It was only 24 months ago that Greinke started Game 7 of the Fall Classic for Houston and pitched brilliantly into the seventh before being pulled by manager A.J. Hinch, who was in his final game as skipper of the Astros. That didn’t work out well for Greinke, but this guy shouldn’t be written off: he’s still one of the smartest pitchers in the game. Dusty Baker just needs 3-4 innings from the veteran, with the score close.
Will Astros Bats Come To Life?
Prior to Game 3, you could have gotten -110 for the Over on 8.5 runs total. The Astros have scored at least five runs in 10 postseason games this October, a record. The Braves hit the second-most homers in baseball. But Mother Nature had other ideas, and the pitcher’s dominated on Friday as only two runners touched home plate.
The Astros looked like they were swinging limp noodles against Ian Anderson and the vaunted Braves bullpen. Officially they got two hits, but it was more like 1 1/2 hits, with one of them a blooper that split the defense. To see them get shut out on this big stage prompts many questions.
What’s wrong with Carlos Correa? Since his “watch-checking” homer in the AL Championship Series he hasn’t had many big moments with the lumber. Then there’s Alex Bregman, who had a weak groundball single in the ninth on Friday, but otherwise has been an easy out in this Fall Classic.
Both Correa and Bregman will need to have good at-bats in the next two games in Atlanta, or the Astros may not get this series back to Houston.
The best swings in this series from Houston have come from Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker. Those two and Yordan Álvarez have looked the best so far. The Astros still have baseball’s deepest lineup, and it’s dangerous to overreact to one game, but there’s not much time left for Houston to get rolling, or else they could be staring at a scary 3-1 deficit on Halloween.
Near No-Hitters in the World Series
We nearly witnessed history Friday night when the Atlanta pitching staff flirted with a no-hitter. There has been only one no-hitter in the history of the Fall Classic: Don Larsen of the Yankees in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series, when he tossed a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Here’s every instance of a pitcher carrying a no-hitter through at least 6 innings:
- Ian Anderson and friends, Braves: 2021 World Series Game 3 (7 innings)
- Jim Lonborg, Red Sox: 1967 World Series Game 2 (7 2/3 innings)
- Bill Bevens, Yankees: 1947 World Series Game 4 (8 2/3 innings)
- Red Ruffing, Yankees: 1942 World Series Game 1 (7 2/3 innings)
- Monte Pearson, Yankees: 1939 World Series Game 2 (7 1/3 innings)
- Burleigh Grimes, Cardinals: 1931 World Series Game 3 (7 innings)
- Herb Pennock, Yankees: 1927 World Series Game 3 (7 1/3 innings)
Prop Bets for Game 4 of the World Series
- Bregman may have squeezed his way out his slump with that harmless single in the ninth in Game 3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him flash some power on Saturday.
- I hate Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate, he’s one of the worst defenders among big league catchers. But I like him to have a a good series with the stick. His homer in Game 3 was huge. I expect him to continue his good approach at the plate in Atlanta.
- In both Game 4 and 5, don’t expect any pitcher to throw more than 3-4 innings. That means no prop bets on O/U for pitcher strikeouts.
- My favorite props are the “HR and win” wagers. Altuve, Correa, Bregman are good options on the orange side, and d’Arnaud and Duvall are good picks for Atlanta.