The Houston Astros wrapped up their regular-season schedule with a record of 101-61, home-field advantage in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan against the Red Sox and high hopes that their dominant season as AL West champions will lead to a lot more in October.One of the reasons
The Houston Astros wrapped up their regular-season schedule with a record of 101-61, home-field advantage in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan against the Red Sox and high hopes that their dominant season as AL West champions will lead to a lot more in October.
One of the reasons Houston has been so good all year long is its excellent relief pitching, and that was the case in the final week of the regular season. The work of that group in the Astros' last seven days -- in which they won five games in a row and six overall -- was enough to earn them the final honor of "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford" in 2017.
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2017 season, MLB.com honored the "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 was 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
The Astros' bullpen scored a winning rating of 122.5 points by allowing only two earned runs and 14 hits in 24 1/3 innings of work. Relievers struck out 32 batters against nine walks and earned two saves.
Michael Feliz was a standout, appearing in two games and pitching two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out five. Tony Sipp also had a strong week, pitching in three games and striking out three over 2 1/3 shutout frames. Will Harris appeared in three games and pitched three scoreless innings, striking out four.
The unexpected: The Astros were definitely not banking on scoring a total of 49 runs in their first four games of the week, but they happily took it. That embarrassment of offensive riches, coupled with the club not wanting to overwork its starting pitchers or late-inning arms heading into October, however, led to quite a few innings of relief having to be doled out. Pitchers used for high-leverage outs ended up concentrating on getting work in during blowouts.
How they prevailed: Manager A.J. Hinch made wise use of his expanded-for-September bullpen while making sure to keep the relievers he'll lean upon in October sharp. Closer Ken Giles wasn't needed but pitched a scoreless inning in Thursday's 12-2 win at Boston. Setup man Luke Gregerson turned in a shutout frame in Wednesday's game, which the Astros won, 12-2, in Texas. And Tyler Clippard struck out two in a perfect inning in Monday's 11-2 road shellacking of the Rangers, then got the save Sunday with another shutout frame.
The Astros' relievers finished ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, who finished in second place with a 115.5 rating, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who were third with a rating of 112.5.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.