They finished the week with another win on the road and extended their division lead, so it's no secret that the loaded Houston Astros are off to a great start as one of the best teams in baseball in the early part of 2017. As is often the case in today's game, a terrific bullpen is a large part of the reason.
Houston's talented and versatile relief corps shined on an almost daily basis during the past seven days of the Major League season and earned the collective group the honor of "MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford."
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2017 season, MLB.com is honoring the Bullpen of the Week. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Houston bullpen scored a rating of 132.5 points by allowing only two earned runs and 11 hits in 23 1/3 innings of work. Relievers struck out 31 batters against four walks, and they earned four saves.
"Everyone is doing their part and doing what they need to do," Giles said. "We put a lot of focus on backing each other up."
The unexpected: The Astros finished the week tied for the fourth-most innings pitched (63) in the Majors, and the issue of starters not going deep in games reared its head during the week. Houston was looking for more than the five innings Mike Fiers gave the Astros in Friday night's game vs. the Rays in St. Petersburg, and the starter left the game with the game tied at 3-3.
How they prevailed: As is typical for the Astros and their unconventional manager, A.J. Hinch, the Houston bullpen tag-teamed to set the stage for another comeback. Feliz's perfect sixth led to the Astros taking a one-run lead in the seventh, and Will Harris, Gregerson and Giles each tossed a scoreless inning to finish off the team's eighth win in nine games.
The Astros' bullpen brilliance was enough to hold off good weeks by other clubs' relief corps. The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs finished the week second with a rating of 96.5, with the Baltimore Orioles coming in third at 88, then the fourth-place St. Louis Cardinals, who had a rating of 85.5.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.