BOSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch is sticking with his plan to start veteran Carlos Beltran at designated hitter against right-handers, saying Saturday he would start Beltran against Boston's Doug Fister in today's Game 3 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan at Fenway Park.Evan Gattis, a right-handed
BOSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch is sticking with his plan to start veteran Carlos Beltran at designated hitter against right-handers, saying Saturday he would start Beltran against Boston's Doug Fister in today's Game 3 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan at Fenway Park.
Evan Gattis, a right-handed hitter, started at designated hitter in the first two games of the series and was 3-for-6 with two doubles, though both starts came against lefties. Gattis actually hit right-handers (.272) better than he did left-handers (.241) in the regular season. Beltran hit .247 against right-handers (only .185 against southpaws) in the regular season.
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"It's mapped out exactly how we expected," Hinch said. "Both guys are swinging the bat well in their areas that their strengths are."
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Beltran, one of the game's all-time greatest playoff performers, came off the bench in Friday's Game 2 in Houston and delivered a pinch-hit single. Playing in what could be his final postseason, Beltran, 40, is a career .327 hitter in the playoffs with 16 home runs in 56 games, including eight playoff homers in his previous stint in Houston in 2004.
"It was good to get Beltran an at-bat, more so because of the distance in time that we have had where he hasn't played," Hinch said. "The way the games have played out in Games 1 and 2, it was hard to get him in there with Gattis swinging the bat well and then predominantly throwing left-handed pitching. So Beltran will DH tomorrow."
McCullers available out of bullpen
With Hinch having mapped out his starting pitchers for Game 3 (Brad Peacock) and, if necessary, Game 4 (Charlie Morton) of the ALDS, right-hander Lance McCullers will be locked and loaded in the bullpen if the Astros need him today.
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McCullers, who has been used as a starter exclusively throughout his professional career, said last week he'd be ready to perform in any role Hinch deems necessary. Hinch said on Saturday he's not going to be too careful with McCullers and believes he can get outs in different situations.
"We haven't gotten him up in Game 1 and Game 2 [because] the game hasn't really dictated it," he said. "He got up to almost simulate getting ready and just keep himself ready in case we needed him later in the game. So I wish I could tell you that we have mapped out everything perfectly. We try to map out as much as we can, but the game's going to have to dictate that."
McCullers could be an option for Hinch if Peacock can't go deep today. Peacock's ERA in the fifth (5.12), sixth (6.43) and seventh (8.31) innings of the regular season will be on Hinch's mind as the game progresses.
"I'm well aware of Brad's third time through the order what his numbers are like, and so you can envision a middle part of the game being available to [McCullers], and just when I say that Peacock's going to go out and potentially get the third time through the order and be fine," he said. "So if we need to use him, I have no problem any time of the game.
"If I go to our bullpen early and I need help late in the game, he'll be available. If something happens early, he certainly can provide length. But he's a weapon more than I need to make it perfect for him. Because he's not too far removed from being a dominant starter and someone that we considered for one of these starts, so if I was going to start him any of these games, why would I be that concerned about using him out of the 'pen? He's a real weapon when we can get him in there."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.