Somewhere in the concourse beyond Minute Maid Park, there lies a stretch of concrete that will one day be the site of a statue in honor of Astros infielder Jose Altuve. Saturday night’s 9th inning saw the diminutive second baseman launch a towering shot into the night air of a tied elimination game in the American League Championship Series, sealing with one swing his place in postseason lore.
But Altuve’s ascension to Game 6 October glory is an unlikely development. While this seems like a pat statement at first glance–perhaps referring, as observers often do, to Altuve’s small, 5’6 frame–the truly unlikely thing about Altuve’s story concerns a nascent failure in his native Venezuela. As Alex Putterman’s 2017 story for The Atlantic explained, Altuve was cut by the Astros after appearing as a teenager in a club tryout camp because the organization considered him too short. At the behest of his father, Altuve returned to tryout for the club again, where he ultimately showed enough to earn a $15,000 signing bonus from Houston officials–hardly a considerable sum in an international signing landscape where seven-figure deals often grab headlines stateside. While a recap of Altuve’s many career exploits following that signing would be redundant at this point, tonight seems a fitting occasion to remember that tonight’s hero achieved his place in history due, in part, to familial encouragement and a little bit of old-fashioned determination. Apparently, even the tiniest of prospects can develop into statues, given the right conditions.
Looking onward to the 115th World Series, beginning play on Tuesday evening…
- With champagne still raining in the Houston locker room, it’s obviously a bit early to talk pitching matchups–but that didn’t stop Nationals beat writer Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post from giving it a shot (link). As Dougherty sees it, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole should square off in Game 1, Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander could conceivably follow in the second game, and Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke project as the matchup for Game 3. For their careers, those six pitchers have combined for 269.3 bWAR. Cole, as has been stated ad nauseam this postseason, is slated for free agency this winter, and Strasburg could follow should he decline the remaining four years and $100MM sitting on the other side of his contractual opt-out.
- Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle shares that reliever Ryan Pressly had some “scar tissue in his knee [break] off” during his third-inning appearance of Game 6 of the ALCS (link). Said scar tissue is, presumably, the result of surgery Pressly underwent in August to address soreness in his right knee joint. Pressly intimated to Rome that he will be “ready to go” for the World Series. If the pitching lineup Astros manager AJ Hinch used in the ALCS is any indication, then Pressly’s services would be especially vital in Game 4, which could be a bullpen game for the ’Stros. Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington shares that Hinch said in his postgame presser that he is “expecting” Pressly to be ready for World Series action (link).