Baumann: A.J. Hinch lost his managerial magic, and the Astros lost the World Series

From SABR member Michael Baumann at The Ringer on October 31, 2019:

When the Houston Astros won it all in 2017, they owed a great deal to manager A.J. Hinch, who not only helped mold Houston’s young core into the best team in baseball but performed exceptional feats of tactical derring-do in the playoffs. He scrubbed Justin Verlander from a start in a hypothetical Game 5 of the ALDS in an attempt to smother a burgeoning Game 4 comeback at Fenway Park. He responded to the implosion of his trusted relief arms by making erstwhile starters Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers Jr., and Collin McHugh available out of the bullpen.

That approach to postseason bullpen management presaged the constant sense of emergency that dictated the pitcher usage of the past two world champions: last year’s Red Sox, led by Hinch’s former bench coach Alex Cora, and Dave Martinez’s Nationals, who beat Hinch’s Astros in this World Series.

And yet in the decisive moments of Game 7, Hinch faltered. Zack Greinke had allowed just one hit over 6 1/3 scoreless innings when Anthony Rendon took him deep to cut Houston’s two-run lead in half. Greinke walked Juan Soto, and Hinch called for reliever Will Harris, even though Greinke had looked indomitable and had thrown just 80 pitches. Harris allowed the championship-winning home run to Howie Kendrick on the second pitch he threw.

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Originally published: October 31, 2019. Last Updated: October 31, 2019.