Entering this postseason, the Astros might’ve easily been the team with the best pitching depth of the 12 clubs that advanced to October baseball. Recently, we discussed the Astros’ great number of good options to defend themselves on the mound against, at least at first, the red-hot Mariners.
On Saturday, Luis García and the rest of the bullpen proved us right. He played hero, taking the win after five scoreless innings (64 pitches, 44 strikes) of two hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. That was right after the Astros used six relievers and their bullpen options were shrinking.
Should the Astros not have these many options to start, it would have been a risky move to use García in such a challenging and long appearance yesterday. But the Astros have plenty of options and ways to go. Now, they’re even better with so many days off until the ALCS.
Even Hunter Brown, who could start if needed, threw two scoreless innings before García’s outing. Including the postseason, Brown has now hurled 23 1/3 innings of 17 hits, two earned runs, eight walks, and 23 punchouts to start his Major League career.
But going back to García and five solid innings, he became the 15th pitcher in the history of the postseason to make a relief appearance of at least five shutout innings while grabbing the W. Only three of those 15 pitchers have done it since the 2000 season: Giants’ Yusmeiro Petit (2014), Astros’ Framber Valdez (2020), and now teammate García.
Out of that group, García is the second to ever do it in the American League Division Series, along with Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez, who did so back on October 11, 1999, against the Cleveland Indians.
Even better: García is one of only five pitchers with the same feat in a potential-clinch game and the first to do it since Pedro’s cited outing. The other three are Rube Walberg (10-14-1929), Joe Page (10-06-1947), and Larry Sherry (10-08-1959).
As a result of the 18 blank innings on Saturday, the Astros became the first team in postseason history to throw 18 scoreless innings in one game. In fact, before 2022, no team had ever thrown 15 shutout innings in a game in the postseason – the Guardians became the first club to ever do it on October 8 and the Astros followed last night to advance to the Championship Series.
García’s performance shows what the Astros are made of. Their crowded pitching and Saturday’s usage tell everybody about the team’s objective: The World Series is what Houston should be aiming at.