When the game is tied 5-5 going into the ninth inning, very few would predict a 12-5 loss. But for the Houston Astros, it’s really not that surprising. The most startling part about all of this is that the Astros have had 23.1 innings in the ninth, and given up 23 earned runs. For those who aren’t too good at math, that means they’re giving up, on average, one run every time they go into the ninth inning.
It’s going to be hard to hold onto one run games with that kind of average.
It needs to be restated again, the Astros absolutely need a closer. Josh Fields is simply not good enough. His consistency is nonexistent. But it’s not just him to blame. Anyone the Astros put in during the ninth just cannot shut the opposition down. Chad Qualls, Anthony Bass and Fields alone have pitched 11.0 innings in the ninth and given up, you guessed it, 11 earned runs. Yet these are the three guys being used in closing or game preserving situations.
They aren’t getting the job done. This is exactly what happened last year, except that it can be isolated to the ninth inning. Those same three pitchers, when pitching in the eighth inning, have pitched 11.0 innings as well, but only surrendered two earned runs. So what can we learn? These three guys are not cut out to pitch in pressure situations.
There is no other way to put it. Matt Albers appears to be the only guy that can hold his own in the ninth but his sample size is too small because he can’t stay healthy. Someone else needs a chance in the ninth, because the routine has become all too predictable.