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Bullpen of the Week: Astros

Houston relievers rack up 30 strikeouts, combine for 1.78 ERA
MLB.com @dohyoungpark

Although the Astros went 4-3 over the past week, it was by no means a lost stretch for the defending World Series champions. Houston maintained its 2 1/2-game lead over the A's in the American League West and saw consistently strong performances from its bullpen, which recorded a 1.78 ERA from Aug. 27-Sept. 2 to be named the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

Although the Astros went 4-3 over the past week, it was by no means a lost stretch for the defending World Series champions. Houston maintained its 2 1/2-game lead over the A's in the American League West and saw consistently strong performances from its bullpen, which recorded a 1.78 ERA from Aug. 27-Sept. 2 to be named the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:

• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save

Houston, which bolstered its bullpen with the acquisition of relievers Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, finished with a score of 96. The A's finished second at 82.5 points by pitching a Majors-best 33 1/3 innings, while the Giants and Cubs ended the week at 74 and 73.5, respectively.

Pressly made four scoreless appearances during the week with five strikeouts, while Joe Smith pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in four outings and picked up his fifth win of the season. Houston relievers struck out 30 batters against nine walks in that stretch and didn't allow a run beyond the sixth inning in its past three games.

The unexpected: The A's had a chance to cut Houston's lead in the AL West to one-half game on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, but Astros starter Dallas Keuchel delivered a solid start, allowing three runs in six innings and handing his bullpen a 4-3 lead. But Brad Peacock entered in relief and was uncharacteristically wild, throwing only seven of his 23 pitches for strikes as he walked Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis to load the bases with one out. He then hit Stephen Piscotty to bring home the tying run.

How they prevailed: Left-hander Tony Sipp entered and retired Matt Olson on a critical foul popout, and Joe Smith wrapped up the inning by inducing a groundout from pinch-hitter Nick Martini to strand the bases loaded. Smith then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Osuna struck out the side in the ninth before Tyler White sent the fans home with a walk-off homer to the Crawford Boxes in the bottom of the ninth.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

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