Heavy rain and strong winds could play a critical role in the outcome of this series.

WeatherMap: ALCS Report

Weathermodels.com

The Astros came into this post season with the slogan "October Reign," and October Rain is what they are going to get in New York today. If you have followed the ALCS at all you have likely heard by now that the status of Game 4 is in question given the prospect for rain. Beyond the rain today the weather will remain a factor into Thursday and possibly Friday in New York so lets break down what we are looking at.

Wednesday (Game 4) - Scheduled start time 7:08 PM Central

Rain is all but guaranteed this afternoon and this evening. Rain, which will be heavy at times, will be moving in during the mid to late afternoon and will likely continue through at least midnight. This would preclude the game from being simply delayed. A postponement seems most likely. I would be surprised if the game isn't called by mid day. The postponement of the game could have significant implications on the pitching matchups for the rest of the series by allowing starters to get an additional day of rest.

Model simulated radar for 8 PM - Midnight tonightWeathermodels.com

Thursday (Game 4 or Game 5) - Scheduled start time 7:08 PM Central

Rain moves out of the area Thursday but it is replaced by strong winds and temperatures in the mid 50s on the back side of the storm system. On Thursday the wind could gust up to 40 MPH at times, however by game time that should hopefully die down a bit. By early evening winds should be coming out of the west at about 20 MPH with occasional gusts up to 30 MPH. Winds like this would be impactful no matter what, but what makes this situation particularly interesting is the orientation of Yankee Stadium. The field is in a west to east orientation, meaning that the wind will be blowing straight out to center field. Obviously this favors home run potential which can cut both ways with both teams being more than capable of bashing the long ball. All those balls that died on the warning track yesterday would be several rows deep on Thursday. Pitching will be critically important on this day.

Friday (Potentially Game 5) Scheduled start time TBD

Friday does not look like weather will be a major factor. Winds will only be about 10-12 miles per hour blowing across the field from the third base line. However this will be the coolest of the games with temperatures starting in the mid 50s and falling into the low 50s during the game.

A note on temperatures: On both Thursday and Friday game time temperatures look to be in the mid 50s. Not freezing by any means, but certainly colder than the teams are used to playing in. Both teams have been playing all summer so it is not like the Yankees are significantly more acclimated to the cooler temperatures than the Astros are. The main impact from the cooler temperatures may be on pitching. Cooler air is more dense which imparts additional friction on the ball leading to more movement on pitches. I suspect we saw a little of this effect yesterday when Gerrit Cole gave up an abnormal amount of walks and said he lacked some command on his fastball. The effect may be small, but when it comes to the strike zone every millimeter makes a difference.

Houston accused of more wrongdoing

New report of illegal sign-stealing puts Astros back under scrutiny

Jason Behnken / Getty Images

Back in 2017, the Houston Astros could be considered the darlings of the MLB. They helped pull a Harvey-ravaged city out of despair and into a celebration in a matter of months with the acquisition of Justin Verlander and subsequent World Series victory. The young team full of potential suddenly had the attention of not only fans but other MLB clubs and the league's front office.

On Tuesday, that attention reared itself yet again in a severely negative way, with the Athletic reporting (subscription required) that former-Astro Mike Fiers was alleging and confirming that his former team used illegal means to steal signs in their 2017 championship season. Fiers, along with three other anonymous sources with the team in 2017, claims that the team used cameras and other technology to monitor opposing catchers to relay signs to batters in real-time. The Astros have released the following statement:

"Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."

While GM Jeff Luhnow had this to say:

Another negative blow to the team's reputation

This is not the first time the Astros have been under a microscope in recent years, the most recent being less than a month ago when assistant general manager Brandon Taubman taunted reporters in the Astros clubhouse following their ALCS series-clinching win. The Astros fumbled that event, coming out with a rebuttal against the reporter, which would eventually be retracted, and Taubman terminated from his employment.

Neither is this the first time the Astros have dealt with accusations of sign-stealing and other forms of cheating. In this year's ALCS, the Yankees complained about a "whistling" noise from Houston's dugout they believed to be a method of relaying pitches to batters at the plate. Also, in the 2018 postseason, the Astros found themselves under fire for having an employee taking photos of the opposing team's dugout.

It's just part of the game until it's not

Both pitch tipping and stealing signs are things that are nearly unavoidable in baseball. With the catcher having to relay a sign to the pitcher 60.5 feet away using his hands, the opposing team will inevitably try to decipher what's coming. The same is true of tipping, where if a pitcher has a tell before a specific pitch, that information will quickly spread through the dugout.

However, there is a line teams should not cross, and that comes by way of utilizing technology to aid further the ability to steal signs, and using that to give an immediate advantage to a batter amid an at-bat. The Astros are not the first team to be alleged of this type of grievance, as the Red Sox received a fine after utilizing a smartwatch to try and steal signs.

It's a widely known and accepted fact that teams will try anything within reason to get a leg up on their opponent. However, with technology ever improving both for organizations to use and be caught by, it's no surprise that this is becoming an issue that the MLB will have to deal with, and soon.

Ramifications could loom large

Will the Astros be found guilty and made an example of to deter other teams for trying similar tactics? It appears we will have to wait for the conclusion of this investigation to find out. While it may not be an indictment of the entire team, it will bring into question the integrity and character of many of the team.

Still, no matter the outcome, the report alone and continued negativity surrounding the Astros organization has made them villains of many, a role that many would not have expected this team to play if asked just two years ago.

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