First off, I’m not jinxing anything. Baseball is hard, no lead is safe, momentum is tricky, and any team can win. But I’ve seen enough through six games to rattle off a few things I’ve been wrong about..
- Yuli should be benched: yes, Yuli had a bad regular season, and he’s declined quite a bit. Yes, I though when we traded for Mancini that Yuli’s playing time would be affected. And yes, I still believe if Hensley had been given twice as many September PAs, he’d be more trusted/ready for big October moments. Dusty stuck stubbornly with Yuli, and it has paid off with big hit after big hit. Sometimes you give your vets an extra long leash, 4-month slumps be damned. Dusty had a feel for Yuli that was better than any of us behind a keyboard. And I was wrong
- Dusty can’t manage the bullpen: this assessment was largely reached after Dusty repeatedly gave Maton higher leverage situations, and gave the lower ones to Abreu. Even as Abreu found his groove, he was still relegated to low and medium leverage situations. For the last 2.5 months, Abreu has been statistically dominant and I was worried he’d be wasted. I was wrong. Dusty has put him in some key spots, even showing more trust in him than Stanek.
- Dusty doesn’t learn: well, he does. He hasn’t started Dubon in the playoffs, even though he was something like a specialty CF for JV. Dusty seemed instinctively to trust Dubon more than Chas. Dusty goes with his hunches and never backs off. Well, he stuck with Yuli, but he gave more PT to Chas. He’s both stubborn and flexible. Which means he learns, despite being an old dog. And where would we be this October without Chas? I had no faith in Dusty, but I was wrong.
- Turning regulars acquired at the deadline into platoon players would hurt their confidence and make them ineffective: would I have wished that Mancini and Vazquez played more in August and September? Yes. But they’re vets in a great clubhouse and at the biggest pivot in the game, Mancini and Vazquez produced huge, clutch plate-appearances that turned a nail-biter into a comfortable lead. And Mancini—in the biggest at bat of his life—wow!
- The winning formula would involve offensive contributions of the Big Four: Altuve, Tucker, Alvarez, and Bregman would have to carry the team. Instead we’ve seen almost everyone come up big: Pena & Chas have been huge all postseason. Yuli’s been mentioned. But also Maldy, and Vazquez, and Mancini! Heck, even Hensley had a huge PA in G1 of the ALDS. What a team, what a team culture! That being said, I’m ready for playoff Altuve to return.
Hard to think of five more things, but I’m happy to post them after five more wins. Go Astros!