Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

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Tampa @ Cleveland WC game Pitching matchup thoughts

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Can the effusive Swisher lead his rag-tag team to victory?  Photo via wikipedia.

Can the effusive Swisher lead his rag-tag team to victory? Photo via wikipedia.

At first glance, knowing that the Rays have been travling around the country for the last two weeks like an indie band chasing side gigs, you would think the Indians would be favored in this matchup.

But look closer and you’ll see an Indians team that has a lot of heart but may not really be as good as their record indicates.  They readily beat up on the two weak teams in their division (going 17-2 versus the White Sox and 13-6 versus Minnesota).  They went 6-1 against the hapless Astros.  That’s a combined 36-9 against these three awful teams.   Against the rest of the league, just 54-51.  They lost the season series to Tampa, winning just 2 of 6 games.  They lost 15 of 19 against Detroit on the season.  They lost 6 of 7 to both Boston and New York.  So I think this is a weaker team than its 90-72 record; in fact I feel like in a different division they’d probably be just a .500 team.

You can only play who they put in front of you though.  They still had 90 wins and a fantastic 10 game winning streak to end the season  … but those 10 games were all against the 3 worst teams in the league.  What will happen when they play a battle tested, playoff-veteran AL East team like Tampa?

Tampa earned its way into a game 163 with tough road series victories at the end of the season, and earned its win over Texas in its first do-or-die game.  Unfortunately they burned their ace in the process and now will go with #3 starter Alex Cobb.  Not that Cobb doesn’t give them a great chance at winning: he’s 11-3 on the season, has pitched to a 138 ERA+.  His away splits are *better* than his home splits.  He’s been very solid since returning from the D/L and I would expect a solid outing tonight.  Perhaps 7 innings, 2 earned runs with 6 strikeouts.

Cleveland had to play it “straight” all they way til the end to guarantee a playoff spot and thus finds itself depending on 23-yr old Danny Salazar, he of exactly 10 major league starts, in this coin-flip game.  Salazar’s numbers in short sample sizes are good; 2-3, 3.12 era, 1.13 whip, 65/15 k/bb in 52 innings and a 121 ERA+.  The blogs rave about his heat and his change-up.  He gets a ton of Ks.  But he’s young, he throws too many pitches, and he’s likely only going to be able to give his team 5-6 innings in a best case tonight.   The Rays see a lot of pitches and are a patient team (2nd in the league in BBs); they and manager Joe Madden knows they can wait out Salazar, get into the Indians bullpen and take their chances.  The Indians pen is a mess, closer Chris Perez is lost, and they’re in the bottom third of the league in most macro categories (bullpen ERA, FIP, fWAR).   Their bullpen is righty heavy, so they can’t play matchups very well.   And the Rays are one of the better RH hitting teams in the league (top 10 in wOBA, top 5 in wRC+).

The Indians are at home (where they’re good), and they’re incredibly hot right now (21-8 in September).  They hit righties at about the league average and have a ton of left-handed/switch hitters at their disposal.   But I somehow see the Rays asserting their dominance, getting into the Cleveland bullpen and eking out a win.  I’m thinking perhaps a 4-3 victory for Tampa.  I’m not as confident here as I was in my first two predictions for the 2013 post-season … but have faith that Tampa will take the next step over the surprising Indians.

Written by Todd Boss

October 2nd, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Baseball Idiot of the Week


Really?  Photo presumably Cleveland Police department via

Really? Photo presumably Cleveland Police department via

I thought this story was interesting.

Indians closer Chris Perez pled no-contest to a charge of mailing his dog 9 ounces of marijuana.  That’s right; his DOG.  That was really clever; no way anyone was gonna figure that one out.

His punishment?  A measly $250 and a year’s probation.

I think you get fined more if you cheat the HOV lanes on the Dulles Toll Road.

Frankly I think he should have gotten more punishment just for the stupidity of his actions.

Oh, by the way, Perez makes $7.3 MILLION dollars this year.  7.3M.  You think maybe perhaps he could have just paid whoever mailed him his weed to just drive the stuff up to him, making that kind of coin?

Now here’s a question: where’s Perez’s PED suspension??  Marijuana is clearly stated as a “Drug of Abuse” in section 2.A of the Joint Drug Abuse agreement, whose language says that players shall be “prohibited from using, possessing …” the drug.  Clearly Perez was caught possessing a rather large amount of the drug; whether or not he ever tested positive for it isn’t he warranted a suspension?  Or could legally everyone just claim it was all his wife’s idea?  Maybe so, but it was Perez who pled it out and seemingly should face the music from Bud Selig.



Written by Todd Boss

September 4th, 2013 at 8:02 am

My 2013 Fantasy Baseball Team


Kemp reacts to being Boss' first round pick in my fantasy league for the 2nd year running. Photo unknown via

Editor’s note: feel free to stop reading now if you don’t want to read 4,400+ words on my fantasy baseball team.  I won’t blame you for it.  For those of you who do play fantasy, as I made picks I wrote down who I was considering and who was available per each pick to try to give some context for the pick.  I’ll insert a “jump” line here so that RSS readers don’t have to see this whole massive post 🙂

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