The Astros in the playoffs. What a bizarre statement that would have been only a few years ago. But it's time to celebrate and TCB joins in on the fun.
What are you feeling about the Astros in the playoffs? What do you think about the matchup with the Yankees?
I'm actually liking the setting at Yankee stadium. Tanaka is starting for the Yanks and he's very homer prone at home. Keuchel has been good both at home and on the road against the Yanks. Three days rest is a variable that could hurt him in either venue.
It feels good to have the Astros in the playoffs again. So, let's not forget that. Of course, it will always be tough to go into a hostile Yankees ballpark for a one game playoff. But I can see some positives, starting with Tanaka. First, he isn't lefthanded, and if I'm an opposing manager facing the Astros for one game, I would prefer a lefty starter. Second, he is coming off a poor game in Yankee Stadium, giving up 5 runs in 4 innings. That leaves a little question mark for the Yankees. Third, the Astros are a fly ball hitting team, and fly ball hitters sometimes are the answer to a groundball pitcher. It's true that we don't know how Keuchel will perform on three days rest, but thinking positively again---the old baseball adage is that sinker pitchers are better on short rest.
In descending order, from best to worst reactions:
A) I'm relieved, proud, and happy they made it to the playoffs, even if they mostly backed in. It can't be overly stressed what an achievement it was for Luhnow and Crane to get this team into the 2015 playoffs from their starting point.
B) The one gamer against the Yankees is totally winnable, especially keeping in mind they did manage to win the last three series of the season, when they most needed to. I'm not saying they're going to win but it shouldn't surprise anyone if they do.
C) I have very little hope beyond that one game. (Does anybody?) One consistent aspect of this team has been their awfulness on the road. Keuchel can't start every game and they'll certainly be playing more often on the road than at home from here out. But this is where we loop back to A and thank our lucky stars the 2015 Astros are a playoff team.
No matter what happens on Tuesday, this was a great season, and I'm satisfied, and Luhnow deserves to send every national writer and pundit in the baseball world a 12-piece bucket of Keuchel Fried Crow.
On the other hand, it irks me that we could have, and should have, won the division. This team choked down the stretch, and choked when they had the chance to make Tusday's game a home game. I'm happy more than frustrated, but there definitely is some frustration. I mean, if we just go .500 in September, we run away with the division. Run away with it.
As pretty much everyone has said, the main thing to remember is what an accomplishment it is for this team to just be in the playoffs. When looking at the wild card game with the Yankees, anything can happen and I like our chances with Keuchel pitching. Past that history is littered with examples of a couple of players getting hot and carrying a team through to a World Series. I wouldn't pick us to win it all, but crazier things have happened. Let's just enjoy the ride and see what happens!
Right now there's a battle between the reflexive pessimism beaten into me by a lifelong fandom of Houston sports and the thrill of the Astros finally playing playoff baseball. I look at how this team held onto first for 139 of the 162 games, leading by as much as seven games at one point, only to stumble backwards into the second Wild Card spot. The pessimist in me says that that's not even a *real* playoff spot and that if this were 2011 we wouldn't be celebrating a playoff berth. I can't even say that playoff baseball is coming back to Houston because of the scary possibility that the Astros will be one-and-done on the road in New York. Dallas Keuchel is pitching on only three day's rest, the Astros have been futile on the road, and the bullpen has been doing their best Icarus impression and are falling back down to Earth. But yet...
We're in the freaking playoffs! It's been 10 long years, half my life, since the Astros have been in the playoffs. We may have the worst record out of all the playoff teams, but in the postseason win/loss records are wiped clean. A Wild Card team can ride a hot streak to the World Series (just like a certain Wild Card team that didn't clinch until the final game of the 2005 season). I salivate with exictement at all the possible matchups: a five game slugfest against Toronto or vengeance for the lost division crown against the Rangers in the ALCS. I imagine the Astros going to the World Series against the Mets in a rematch of the epic 1986 NLCS or dishing out some punishment to the Cardinals for their hacking ways. Or how sweet would it be for the Chicago Cubs to make their first World Series in 70 years only for their old division rivals to continue their title drought? Sure, most of these scenarios are highly improbable, but in the playoffs, to quote Cole Porter, anything goes.
I feel vindicated for my unyielding support of the Luhnow approach to the construction of this team. The strategy adopted and employed by the Astros front office has been taken in different ways by different fans and many hated the sacrifices that the MLB club had to make in order for the minor league system to be restored. It has paid off...and earlier than most thought.
I'm also incredibly proud. I still feel this team has played above themselves for most of the season, stunning, shocking and impressing at every turn. They have been a joy to watch.
And finally, I'm excited. Anything beyond 162 games is another form of free baseball. I have no idea what will happen next with a team of kids. Will they rise to the challenge, collapse under pressure, fall over from sheer exhaustion, or make a truly unexpected run? Who knows...but it's gonna be fun to watch!
I am a little confused. Here we are, one of 10 final teams standing, and I just feel that this whole "collapse" narrative is overplayed. I mean I get it, we are all fans, so we are going to magnify just about everything. Having experienced the miracle comebacks of the "Tombstone" era, we saw that almost no lead is safe. Even at 6 or 7 games, I would tell myself "this division lead could vanish in a bad week." That's not being pessimistic per se, but merely reminding myself to try to enjoy being up in the standings, and not to take anything for granted. Now if it played out that we won and the Rangers lost game 162, and then we beat them for the Division Championship, and then they went on to lose to the Yankees, now THAT my friends, would have been a collapse.
So I am happy as hell, but then confused that not every fan feels the same way. As for the Yankees, although I think we would have had the better chance to beat them at home (obviously), I think it is really cool that this young, exciting, cost-effective team gets to go to the Evil Empire and compete at Yankee Stadium. These resilient Astros have taught me to never give up on them, and so I am hopeful and optimistic that we can continue that on Tuesday night. Let's go Astros, let's continue to have some fun, let's win, and let's keep the Club Astros tour going!
Now that the Astros are in the playoffs I can officially feel good about this season. I don't have high expectations for their post season run given the state of their play as of late, but the team exceeded everyone's expectations this year and they made the playoffs. Well done everyone.
I actually really like their match up against the Yankees, especially with Keuchel on the mound. I think the Astros would fare well against the Royals as well. The Rangers the and Blue Jays though? Those are the teams I don't think the Astros can get past, but to me, that doesn't matter this year. They broke their losing streak and their playoff drought this year, I couldn't have asked for more in April. I'll save my entitlement for 2016 and beyond.
My feelings on the Astros reaching the playoffs are cautiously happy. It doesn't feel like the playoffs, and probably won't until after the wild card play-in game. But the Astros get a new banner for Minute Maid, and I watched the champagne celebration after Sunday's game. I loved the five-way chase for the playoffs at the end of the season though. While it would have been more gratifying to maintain a five-game lead over the division, this is the first time in a decade that I can remember games 160, 161, and 162 mattering to me. I watched those games more avidly than any other games of the past four seasons (caveat: I had about seven toddlers scrambling around during Fiers' no-hitter, but I probably would have watched that avidlier).
I think the Astros have an advantage over the Yankees, even at Yankee stadium. First, Dallas Keuchel. Second, the Astros have a positive momentum, and the Yankees know they almost blew their playoff hopes altogether during the last few games of the season. Masahiro Tanaka loves the long ball--that is to say, he loves to allow opposing batters to hit them--and the Astros batters are well-suited to face a pitcher like that. Sure they may rack up 15 strikeouts. But a couple guys on base and a couple dingers will be all the Astros need. Oh, and Keuchel is gonna throw a perfect game. I forgot to mention that.
I am ecstatic. I am going to borrow from David and say that I don't care how we got here... We got here. Even after 2014's improvement, very few people thought we would have a chance to be in post season play. That included myself. The key is, at this very moment, the season is over and the Astros have a shot to win it all. That's all that matters.