Dusty Baker Gives Brutally Honest Take On Astros’ Starting Pitching

Houston's three starters so far have combined for just 5 1/3 innings

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Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker never has been one to carefully craft his words. He’s blunt and honest.

So, given the state of his team’s starting rotation, there wasn’t much polite stuff he could say Monday night.

The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the American League Championship Series with a 12-3 loss in Game 3. It featured yet another lackluster performance from an Astros starter, with José Urquidy getting chased after giving up five runs on as many hits in just 1 2/3 innings.

Luis Garcia got rocked before leaving with an injury in Game 2, and Framber Valdez, though the Astros won Game 1, gave up two earned runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. All told, that’s 14 earned runs in just 5 1/3 innings from the three starters.

“It’s kind of like Groundhog Day, a reoccurring nightmare where you hope to get some innings out of these guys,” Baker said after Game 3, via ASAP Sports You hope they can get out of the inning and then take him as far as you can take him.”

Of course, that isn’t what’s been happening, and it’s putting Baker in an unenviable position. The above answer actually came when he was asked why he didn’t pull Urquidy earlier in the game, but that’s the exact problem. The Astros’ bullpen is gassed because it has been overused, so Houston has to get some length out of the starter before turning it over to the bullpen.

Baker’s options, in short, are to leave the starter out there to get walloped, or go to his bullpen and further gas them.

“If I go get him any earlier, it’s going to tax my bullpen even more,” Baker said. “We were hoping he could get through that. How much earlier can I get a guy? In the last two games we’ve gone to get them very, very, very early, and that put — you still got to fill eight to nine innings, you know, with guys that are already taxed. …

“It’s easy to say go out and get them, but then you got to replace them with somebody that’s already taxed.”

The Astros now will turn to Zack Greinke, who Baker said before the series is only stretched out to 40 pitches. It could be another wild ride for Houston’s pitching staff in Tuesday’s Game 4.

First pitch is set for 8:08 p.m. ET Tuesday, with NESN offering pregame coverage at 7, as well as postgame coverage immediately following the final out.

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