Astros keep rotation intact after rainout

November 1st, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Astros manager Dusty Baker doesn’t plan to alter his pitching rotation despite Game 3 of the World Series being postponed because of rain Monday, which pushed back the rest of the Fall Classic schedule by one day.

Baker said the Astros are sticking with starting veteran right-hander in Game 3, now scheduled for Tuesday, against the Phillies’ Ranger Suárez. Astros right-hander will start Game 4 against Aaron Nola on Wednesday.

With the altered schedule, Citizens Bank Park will play host to Games 3-5 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be a travel day. If the series goes the distance, Games 6 and 7 would be in Houston on Saturday and Sunday.

The Phillies, unlike the Astros, are using the extra day to bring back Nola, their Game 1 starter, on four days of rest for Game 4. Baker chose not to do the same with Game 1 starter , who will go in Game 5 on Thursday. That would line up left-hander for Game 6 on Saturday in Houston. The best-of-seven series is tied, 1-1.

“Well, the equation was Javier's been really good, No. 1,” Baker said. “And No. 2, we feel that that extra day off wouldn’t hurt Justin. It would probably be to his benefit.”

The Astros were able hit on the field at Citizens Bank Park -- where Houston hasn’t played a game since 2017 -- a few hours prior to the rainfall Monday. Baker said the team’s outfielders also played some baseball off the wall to get used to the angles. The Astros couldn’t take batting practice on the field prior to Games 3 and 4 of last year’s World Series in Atlanta because of rain and scored a total of two runs in those games.

“They have a lot of angles, a lot of caroms out there [and] only three or four of our players have ever been in this stadium,” Baker said. “So, I'm glad we got a chance to work out before it rained today.”

McCullers’ Game 3 start will come on the five-year anniversary of his most recent World Series start -- Nov. 1, 2017. He started Game 7 of the 2017 World Series and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the Astros’ win over the Dodgers, which clinched the championship. McCullers was injured when the Astros went to the World Series in 2019 against the Nationals and last year against the Braves.

In addition to wanting to give Verlander an extra day of rest, the Astros have great confidence in Javier, who will be facing the Phillies for the first time in his career. Javier threw three games in relief in the World Series last year, but Game 4 will be his first career start in the Fall Classic. He threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed one hit in Game 3 of the ALCS in New York in his first career playoff start.

“I think I'm just going to continue to stay positive, just continue doing the same thing I've been doing,” Javier said. “The plan is going to be continue to throw a lot of strikes and attack the strike zone.”

Baker said the Astros will keep the same lineup he had planned for Game 3, which had rookie making his first postseason start at designated hitter.