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Stellar Scouting Report: Relief Crew

Third in a series. Thanks to Crawfish Boxes

Brad Lidge Closer -- You've seen this guy on CNN and ESPN, and the question is not about his filthy late-breaking slider or his 97 fastball, it's about how he comes back from giving up that shot to Pujols. Certainly helps that the Astros won the NLCS. Some felt that Lidge should have been used with the Astros up four in the ninth in the clincher, but I'm not with that. My guess is, Lidge will be fine for the Series and for the forseeable future in Houston.

Dan Wheeler Setup -- Was actually more consistent than Lidge at different points through the year, and in late June early July, when Lidge was out with a sore biceps, Wheeler earned three saves as the replacement closer. Wheeler neither gets as many strikeouts as Lidge, nor as many double plays as Chad Qualls. He had a better ERA, and a better WHIP, however, than both. He's more likely to get a fly ball than a ground ball, and when he gives up runs--which isn't often--half the time it's a home run done the deed. Wheeler doesn't walk many people-being fourth on the 'Stros in K/BB, yet was also second on the club in k/9. Wheeler rarely comes in mid-inning, almost always starting the eighth.

Chad Qualls 7th inning -- Qualls has the second best slider on Houston's club, and as such is the pronounced ground ball pitcher you'd expect. Qualls will sometimes start the seventh, but as often, Garner will bring him in anytime the club needs a double play. Qualls walked a small amount fewer per nine than Lidge and a small amount per nine more than Wheeler. Qualls is probably the reliever in the playoffs who has pitched best, though when no-one but Lidge has given up a run, it becomes kind of hard to quantify.

Mike Gallo -- left hander who gets righties out at the better clip, and lately, the king of the one-pitch appearances. A weaker link with a 1.38 WHIP, but Garner has picked his spots well with Gallo, and his appearances have very rarely been poor.

Russ Springer -- Yet to appear in the playoffs, Springer had a terrible May and a nightmare game in July against the Reds, but has otherwise been very good, despite what the ERA says. Had a WHIP comparable to Qualls'. Gets a lot of in out movement on his fastball, and has the third best K/9 among relievers after Lidge and Wheeler. Slightly biased toward the flyball, gives up 1.37 homers/9.

Wandy Rodriguez -- rookie lefthander was fourth or fifth starter during the year and might eat up an inning or two in a game in which the Astros trail. Much less likely to be used situationally. Prone to give up the gopherball, not much of a strikeout threat. Groundballs when he's on.

Ezequiel Astacio -- Rookie and number six starter all year has electric stuff, but a nasty habit of being unable to control it. Classically bad earlier in the year, Astacio has gotten better, and pitched a scoreless inning in the NLCS. Strikeouts if he's on, flyballs if he's lucky, homers if he's not. Not all that likely to pitch.