The Ultimate Houston Astros WORLD SERIES Matchup Guide

Updated: Oct 29

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Here is EVERYTHING you need to know and to get ready for the World Series for the Houston Astros vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. as the team announce critical things, I will make adjustments here.


This article has a mountain of data. We produced a YouTube video on the LarryTheGM YouTube channel for you to understand everything that is here for you. Here is that video.


Folks, we are going to cover the World Series like no other event here at LarryTheGM because - IT'S THE WORLD SERIES! Check out this article that lays out all of the gameday content we will give you here and on the YouTube channel and how you can participate.


Also. while here check out all of the MLB Postseason content here on LarryTheGM.com


Team Status/ Bullpen Availability - I am not going to update this section here- look for the daily update


Let's first talk about how these two teams enter the series.


The Phillies won the NLCS in 5 games while the Astros swept. This means both teams clinched on 10/23 and will have 4 full days of rest. Each staff should be completely ready to go.


I do think both teams COULD make an adjustment from the LCS roster to their World Series pitching staff.

- Bailey Falter was not good vs. the Padres in game 4 of the NLCS and the LHP has the worst matchup of any pitcher I have done in the ALDS, ALCS, and now the WS. I suspect they will choose to go with Syndergaard as the 4th SP and add Nick Nelson for the WS. (They did.) For now I have left Falter in the data set so you can see what I am talking about, and I will change it if they do go another direction. (data updated

- As we will show later the Phillies have several LHH and I suspect the Astros will add Will Smith on as a RP in place of Seth Martinez OR Jose Urquidy.


In the daily updates I will track the pitcher usage and the staff status checker which essentially projects when players are good to pitch. I do not have the cumulative effect of repeated work fully built into this yet but you should get the idea.

For now everyone should be good to go.


Here are what I project the starting pitcher matchups will be for the rest of the series.

The schedule returns to the traditional format for a postseason seven game series. Nola is probably Philly's best SP. The game 1 matchup with Verlander will be epic and if we get the same in game 5- legendary. Wheeler vs. Valdez is probably advantage Phillies. As you will see later the xwOBA data, Valdez' number here is impacted by a lack of data for some of the matchups. It is probably best to consider FIP for Valdez. In this metric the Astros would have the matchup advantage in three of the four pairings or five of the seven games as laid out.


Here is a PROJECTED pitcher usage I have made based on the info that will follow. It won't be this but I used it to get an idea who these teams will count on in this series. These will be updated and adjusted with real data once the series starts.


Let's look at some summaries about these two teams before we dive into the matchup model results.


Overview/ Summary


The season heatmap.

The Phillies delivered the eighth most WAR in the MLB. From a WAR delivery standpoint the team has a few weaknesses.

  • Fourth WAR in Pitching

  • SECOND WAR in SP- Astros 19.5, Phillies 17.5. That gap is huge but the Philly SP have been excellent. Philadelphia starters pitched the 5th most IP.

  • Ninth WAR in RP- relative to the Astros 2nd RP, the Philly bullpen is a relative weakness.

  • Eleventh WAR in Batting- you would not know this by all of the media spin about how hot the Phillies bats are; but from a season WAR delivery perspective, Philadelphia has several areas below average.

  • 1B- 16th in WAR

  • 2B- 16th in WAR

  • SS- 22nd in WAR

  • 3B- 21st in WAR

  • CF-25th WAR

  • RF- 25th WAR- negative 0.2

  • Here is the puzzling part that takes us to the next topic.

  • The Phillies were actually 8th in Offensive WAR.

  • How can you be 8th in offensive WAR, and 11th in "Batting" WAR?

  • Because batting WAR is both Offense AND Defense.

  • It is really more Position Player WAR.

  • Twenty- fifth in Defense (25th!!) as measured by defensive WAR

  • As a mental comparison

  • Seattle was 12th

  • Yankees were 1st (but most came from catcher and many of their best defensive players- LeMahieu, Hicks and Kiner-Falefa were out or limited)

  • Astros were 4th as measured by defensive WAR

  • Most positions were top 7 defensively

  • There are only two positions below average defensively

  • Catcher- 18th- Maldonado 21st among catchers, helped some by Vasquez (9th)

  • First Base- 27th- the "scoopers" won't want to hear it but Gurriel was the SECOND WORST defensive 1B among starters

  • Left field was an average 14th

  • The Phillies almost across the diamond are terrible defensively as measured by defensive WAR

  • Catcher was an exception- 13th- with Realmuto (he was 2nd) is average as Stubbs drags down the position

  • First base -28th- Hoskins is only one step above Yuli on defensive WAR

  • Shortstop- 23rd- Gregorious was terrible early and Stott has been below average since

  • Third Base- 19th- Bohm is one of the worst starting 3B defensively in the league

  • Left Field- 29th- Schwarber is the worst defensive starting LF in the MLB and it's not even close

  • Center Field- 19th- Vierling (40th) and Marsh (30th) are two of the worst CF (at least 400 innings- 41 total) in the MLB. The position ranking is boosted by players not on the team

  • Right Field- 28th- Castellanos is the second worst defensive RF in the MLB

Why am I dwelling on this so much? These are hidden runs that the Astros generally prevent and the Phillies give away in bucket loads.


The Astros as a team have +67 DRS

The Phillies as a team have -34 DRS

That means the gap between the two teams defensively is over 0.6 runs a game!


The runs scored gap between these two teams was 10 runs (Phillies 747, Astros 737).

The runs given up gap between these two teams was 167 runs (Astros 518, Phillies 685). This is the pitching AND defensive effect.


The defense of the Phillies will lose this series for them if nothing else does.


Let's looks at the Pitching and Hitting in more detail.


Team Batting and Pitching Reviews


Phillies Pitching

Here is an overview of the Phillies World Series pitching staff with key pitching metrics.

As we showed the Phillies pitching staff is very good. The RHH might hit Suárez.


An open question will be who does Philadelphia start in Game 3/4 - Syndergaard (RHP) or Falter (LHP). I believe it will be Syndergaard as I stated earlier.


The RP does have some of the issue the Astros RP had in 2021 where key pitchers have significant platoon splits.

- Dominguez is not good vs. LHH

- Alvarado has a reverse split but is probably the best option

- Eflin is hittable for LHH

- Robertson has a reverse split

- Hand may not be an option in a close game

- Bellatti is far better vs. RHH than LHH

- Brogdon has a reverse split and is better vs. LHH than RHH

- Falter might get hit hard by RHH- Nelson replaced as expected

- Gibson's ERA and FIP are worse than his xwOBA stats and they are not good.


This staff will be VERY dependent on Nola and Wheeler as SP and Alvarado and Robertson as RP. Expect to see them a LOT.


Phillies Batting


I added Darick Hall as a possibility in place of Guthrie. IF the Astros do not add Smith, I really expect that. Hall could be a valuable LHH vs. the RHP of the Astros.

Sosa and Vierling typically platoon for Stott and Marsh vs. LHP.

The top four are VERY good and give the Phillies hope in the series. The RHP laden Astros should fair well #5-#9.


If we compared the starters in OPS rankings it looks like this. This is a bigger gap than the Astros had with the Yankees.


The key to success vs. the Phillies top four will be working the matchup and making the right pitches in the right zones


The Astros are better but not by a ton batting. The deep Astros bullpen is an advantage, For reference here are the same tables for the Astros batting and pitching.

I have shown the Astros with Will Smith on the roster here because IF he were able to sustain the Houston Will Smith, that would be a valuable weapon against the bottom of the Phillies lineup.


Here is the Astros lineup with two potential options.


While I will show the Matijevic might have a potential matchup possibilities, the Astros did not add him for the ALDS nor the ALCS. Dubon is loved by Dusty so he will be on the roster even if he truly has no role.


Summary Table


So let's put this data all together in a boxing scorecard sort of way

The Astros appear to be a better team across the board but how do these two matchup when we consider pitch mix and relative skill per pitch type?


The Matchup Guide


As a reminder to complete the matchup guide we pull the xwOBA data for the pitchers and batters BY PITCH TYPE and platoon. This methodology is explained HERE.


Here is the table for the Astros Pitchers.

I try to filter out data to where the sample size is too small, but I readily admit that is a challenge in this analysis.


When the World Series roster is officially set, we will adjust these tables.

Here is the data table for the Astros batters.

If the numbers are too much just focus on the colors. Red is good; Blue is not good.


Here is the Phillies Pitching table


Here is the Phillies batting table

For this Phillies table I added Maroon formatting. These are the pitch combinations which are the best for the Philly batters and that the Astros should try to avoid or in the least throw outside the zone to induce weak contact.


The magic of this process occurs when you matchup the hitting and the pitching data against each other. For example this is Verlander vs. the Phillies matchup table. We will have these for each starting pitcher in the Daily Pitching Status Updates.


We will explain this process again in this article which describes the steps with video from this guide review. This breaks down and helps you if you want to understand the math.


The model results data are the red font cells on the lower right.


You take that data for each pitcher vs. the opposing batters and you have the matchup grid.


Here is the Astros pitching to the Phillies hitters.


Here is the grid for when the Astros are batting.

The cells in yellow are where the data set is not sufficient to document. With these grids you can see who is favored and to what degree.


Both teams are very dependent on their superstars for run production. It might come down to which of those stars produces the most and/or who surprises like Pena did in the ALCS.

To show the overall projected performance of each batter in the series, focus on the three columns to the right.


(I will adjusts these for the roster changes but not tonight)


Phillies

Astros

Putting the two sets of batters together with the MATCHUP projection



The comparison of the two batting rosters illustrates two things

  • the overall batting advantage the Astros should have.

  • matchup system projects the batting gap to be even higher than the season OPS comparison

  • this also reflects on the great Astros pitching's ability to shut down the Phillies

  • the batting in this series will likely be better than it was in the ALCS as more players project better

  • as we discussed in the Article about Yuli's GREAT ALDS performance, I think Yuli can outperform these projections in Games 1, 3, 6, and maybe 2. Because of the off days, we might get the good Yuli for six of the seven games. Rest seems to be really important for Yuli.

We can do the same comparison with the pitching data

From this table you can see who projects to pitch well in the series and who projects to struggle. This again illustrates the dominant Houston staff especially the bullpen. The Philly LHPs are likely to struggle more than they have.


It will be interesting to see if Houston does add Will Smith (they did) and if they drop Urquidy or Martinez (Martinez).


Final Thoughts


I really think the boxing scoring system illustrates the significant advantage I see for the Astros in this series.


  • The only SP advantage I see for the Phillies is game 2 (and game 6 if it goes that far) with Wheeler vs. Valdez.

  • The matchup system amplifies the advantages one sees in the more traditional statistical analysis

  • The top of the Phillies lineup is likely to produce

  • The Philadelphia defense will cost them at least 3 runs this series

  • I think the Astros win in 5.


Clint and I will review this guide on the LarryTheGM YouTube channel at 8PM on 10/26. I will add more content as time allows.


Tell me what you think. Subscribers, PLEASE leave your comments or questions here or in the chat.


The statistics referenced here come from baseballsavant.com and Fangraphs.com.


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