Sports

Astros Fall in World Series to Braves: Four Thoughts

Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were part of the core group that fell into a slump in the World Series.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were part of the core group that fell into a slump in the World Series. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros lost 7-0 to the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night in Game 6 of the World Series ending their season and crowning the Braves with their first championship since 1995. After a promising start, a three-run third inning eventually snowballed as the Astros were unable to get their bats going, a familiar refrain throughout the Series.

The Astros will face a long offseason with some significant questions and key players heading to free agency. For now, they are left to wonder what could have been with their third trip to the World Series in five seasons with only one win to show for it. Here are our thoughts.

Starting pitching struggles.

The starting rotation was the biggest question mark going into the season and yet, for much of the season, it became a strength thanks to rookie Luis Garcia, a career year from Lance McCullers, Jr. and contributions from Jose Urquidy and Framber Valdez. But, by the postseason, McCullers was lost to injury, Zack Greinke, who many thought would be the team's ace, had missed a month, and the team was left relying on unproven and overtaxed young pitchers. With Greinke and Justin Verlander likely gone in free agency, the Astros — even with quality youth in the rotation — will have at least one ace-sized hole in their rotation. They should have money to spend, but will they?

Power outage.

Despite being the best offensive team in baseball, the Astros fell into a massive slump in the World Series, particularly among their core of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa. Even more striking was the lack of power out of everyone up and down the lineup. It can happen to teams in a series, but to have it happen in the World Series for a team this good offensively and this experienced is pretty shocking.


MLB must address the length of games.

Game 6 moved at a relatively brisk pace, but that was not the norm for the Series or for the postseason.

This is a multi-faceted problem, but the league must address it going forward. Four-hour games, particularly in the playoffs, is just way too much for the average fan. And the postseason is the time when average fans tune in. Pitch clocks, shortened ads and less time between innings should all play a factor, but they really need to get it under control or risk losing even more of an audience that has eroded over the last 20 years.

A number of potential farewells?

We all know this could be the last game in an Astros uniform for Carlos Correa. The same could be said for Zack Greinke. Much will be discussed with regard to Correa and his status throughout the offseason, but there is on ending that we haven't really discussed: the end to pitchers hitting. It is widely expected that the universal designated hitter will become a permanent part of the baseball meaning the last time we have seen pitchers hit was in Atlanta in Game 5. Some will say good riddance while others will mourn the loss. Regardless, it is the end of an era on several fronts.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke