I thought Oakland would get to Verlander last night; I was wrong. Who knew after the inconsistent season he had that suddenly he’d be pitching 8 dominant (and 5 perfect) innings in an elimination game on the road. Phew. If Verlander is back to being “best in the league” level these playoffs … Boston is in trouble. A Scherzer/Verlander 1-2 punch going 4 times out of 7 is going to be tough to beat. Same with a Greinke/Kershaw 1-2 punch on the NL side. That’s why in a simplistic quick analysis it’s hard to go against a Detroit-Los Angeles World Series right now. Up until yesterday I was thinking Boston-LA … but now i’m not sure Detroit is beatable.
Billy Beane famously said that “his sh*t doesn’t work in the playoffs” and once again he’s right. Notice how Oakland, Tampa and Pittsburgh all made the playoffs with dinky payrolls but well put-together teams but subsequently lost to bigger payroll teams? When the chips were down, Detroit had a $20M/year pitcher going against a $500k pitcher, and the game was won when their $24M/year MVP hit a homer. I’m not saying that happens all the time, but it is sure happening this post season. I’ve got a draft post quickly reviewing payroll versus standings (like I try to do every year) and its interesting to say the least what has happened to some of the game’s biggest payrolls.On the other hand … what a playoffs so far. I think its easy to point out that the 4 best teams remain, that all four teams are significant, historical baseball franchises, and the world series looks set to be an absolute classic matchup no matter what happens.
NLCS Game 1 thoughts: Greinke-Kelly. Kelly may not be “sexy,” but he’s a darn effective pitcher. The last time he faced the Dodgers he shut them down (one run in 6 innings). Greinke was good in the NLDS (2 runs in 6 innings in Atlanta), had a similar 2 in 6 line in St. Louis in August, but got mostly hammered by the Cardinals in the 2011 playoffs. This is two years later, of course, a whole different set of circumstances. I think both guys are going to have similar lines tonight (6 innings, 2 runs) and i’m calling for a close game won by the home team Cardinals with their superior hitting and home field advantage.