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McHugh on call to be 'bridge' in relief

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Manager A.J. Hinch's penchant for using starting pitchers in relief in the postseason -- a strategy that has worked very well for the Astros -- might mean right-hander Collin McHugh could get the call in Game 4 of the World Series against the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park.

After using Justin Verlander in relief to help Houston win Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Boston, Hinch deployed starter Lance McCullers Jr. for four scoreless innings in relief of Charlie Morton in the Astros' Game 7-clinching victory over the Yankees in the AL Championship Series a week ago.

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HOUSTON -- Manager A.J. Hinch's penchant for using starting pitchers in relief in the postseason -- a strategy that has worked very well for the Astros -- might mean right-hander Collin McHugh could get the call in Game 4 of the World Series against the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park.

After using Justin Verlander in relief to help Houston win Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Boston, Hinch deployed starter Lance McCullers Jr. for four scoreless innings in relief of Charlie Morton in the Astros' Game 7-clinching victory over the Yankees in the AL Championship Series a week ago.

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In the Astros' 5-3 win over the Dodgers in Game 3 on Friday, Brad Peacock followed McCullers by tossing 3 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings. It marked the longest relief outing in the World Series since Madison Bumgarner threw five frames in Game 7 in 2014, and it was the longest relief outing by an AL reliever since Gene Nelson went 3 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the 1990 Fall Classic.

McHugh, who finished 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 regular-season starts after missing the first 3 1/2 months with an elbow injury, has pitched in only one postseason game. He threw the final four scoreless innings in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Yanks after not being on the ALDS roster.

Hinch said Peacock was a "bridge" to get to late in the game, but he pitched so well he let him finish. Joe Musgrove, another former starter, could also serve as that bridge in Game 4, Hinch said.

Hinch said the matchups late in the game are based on hitters and that all matchups aren't created equal.

"We're all trying to line our players up to be successful against particular hitters," Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Collin McHugh