Game 2 ALCS: Yankees Underscored Soaring Reliance on Bullpens in Post-Season

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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The Astros are starting to get the hang of this overtime work in October. With their 3-2, 11-inning victory over the Yankees -- courtesy of a Carlos Correa home run -- the Astros are tied for the third-most post-season walk-off victories. However, given their status as an expansion team they actually have the highest percentage of walk-off wins in their post-season experiences.

Sunday's walk-off win was ninth post-season walk-off in the history of the Astros. Correa has provided the game-ending hit twice -- the home run Sunday against the Yankes, and a double that scored Jose Altuve in Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS. He shares the distinction with Denny Walling of having two walk-off post-season at-bats as a member of the Astros.

In the 1980 NLCS, the Astros first post-season ever, Walling delivered the 11th-inning sacrifice fly in Game 3 of the NLCS to help the Astros beat the Phillies 1-0. The next season, Walling had the game-winning 11th-inning single to score Phil Garner with the winning run in the Astors 1-0 win against the Dodgers.

Much was made on the broadcast Sunday night about the Yankes quickly going to the bullpen, and the relievers working 7 1/3 innings in the game. Consider, however, that it was the fourth time in MLB post-season history that a bullpen has worked 7 1/3 innings for a team in a game, and the 22nd time that a bullpen has worked 7 1/3 or more innings.

It underscores the changing philosophy in handling pitching staff. Every one of those 22 games has come in the last nine post-seasons, including the three most extensive bullpen usages a year ago.

In Game 3 of last year's World Series, the Red Sox used relievers for a post-season 12 1/3 innings in 3-2, 18-inning loss against the Dodgers -- the Red Sox only games in claiming the world chamiponship in five games.

The Brewers bullpen worked 11 2/3 innings in a 2-1, 13 loss to the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS, which the Dodgers won in seven games. Brewers starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez lasted one inning, giving up two runs.

And the Dodgers bullpen worked 11 innings in that 18-inning World Series victory against the Red Sox.

And the increased reliance on the bullpen becomes apparent in examining bullpen usages by decade since the expansion era began in 1961.

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