I think Lester has at least two more Game 1 starts in him… photo via Grantland (RIP)
LDS quick thoughts:
- ALDS #1: Not surprised at all that Toronto manhandled Texas; look no further than the run differentials for the teams on the year (Texas was only +8, Toronto was +93). Anyone who thought that was a surprise isn’t following the games closely. The only surprise for me in that series was the fact that Odor and Bautista didn’t get into another fight.
- ALDS #2: On the flip side, color me shocked that Cleveland swept Boston. Cleveland is basically without its two best starters, yet still swept the AL East champ. What it tells me is that Boston’s starters aren’t nearly as good as they are reported to be, and it showed as both Porcello and Price got bombed.
- NLDS #1: I never expected a Chicago sweep of SF, not with Bumgarner lurking, and SF did indeed win the Bumgarner start (but without that much help from him in the end; he was in a position to take the loss in Game 3 when he departed). But nonetheless, Chicago won in four games and get three full days off before the first game of the NLCS with which to reset their rotation. A luxury that the Nats/Dodgers winner will not get.
- NLDS #2: Nats/Dodgers came down to game 5, and despite their chances the Nats lose another heartbreaker.
Quick good links: MLB Post-season Schedule. and MLB.com’s Probable Pitchers.
Here’s a preview of the NLDS. Thanks to wrapping up the NLDS early, Chicago can re-set their rotation but likely goes with the same set of arms.
- Game 1: 10/15 in Chicago: Kenta Maeda versus Jon Lester
- Game 2: 10/16 in Chicago: Clayton Kershaw versus Kyle Hendricks … i guess. Kershaw is in uncharted waters here; a win on 10/11 on 3-days rest then an inning in relief on 10/13 … I guess he’ll be ready to go for a full start on 10/16.
- Game 3: 10/18 in LA: Jake Arrieta versus Rich Hill
- Game 4: 10/19 in LA: John Lackey versus Julio Urias
Its definitely saying something about your SP depth when last year’s Cy Young winner is relegated to being your #3 starter in a post-season series, but such is the strength of the Chicago pitching this year. The Cubs will face a distinctly weakened LA pitching staff, shredded by the stress of the NLDS win over Washington, putting them at a severe dis-advantage. LA will be incredibly lucky to get a split in Chicago; Lester (a lefty) should dominate the Dodgers in Game 1 and then the Cubs should have their hacks against Kershaw in game 2 (Cubs 7th in the league against lefties in terms of BA). Then LA has no choice but to throw two more lefty starters in game 3 and 4, again playing more into Chicago’s strengths. This isn’t like last year when NY’s strong RHP-centric starting pitchers blew away Chicago (who don’t hit Righties as well); this is a tough matchup for LA in general.
Prediction: Chicago in 5 or 6; i’m not sure it even gets back to Chicago for a game 6.
Here’s some thoughts on the ALCS. Two teams that (rather easily) swept their divisional opponents. Here’s how the pitching match-ups project (assuming these teams keep the same rotation from the LDS):
- Game 1: 10/14 in Cleveland: Marco Estrada versus Corey Kluber
- Game 2: 10/15 in Cleveland: J.A. Happ versus Josh Tomlin
- Game 3: 10/17 in Toronto: Trevor Bauer versus Aaron Sanchez
- Game 4: 10/18 in Toronto: Mike Clevinger versus Marcus Stroman
A couple of interesting Nats connections here: Estrada was our 6th round pick in 2005 out of Long Beach State; he toiled in our system for years before being released and establishing himself as a superb starter elsewhere (first Milwaukee, now Toronto). Stroman was our 18th round pick in 2009 out of a NY high school; he projected as a shortstop then; he went to Duke, remade himself as a starter, and was Toronto’s 1st rounder 3 years later.
The Cleveland slate of starters keeps changing; Kluber is a Cy Young candidate; he will lead off for Cleveland instead of Bauer (and, as of this 10/14/16 note, Bauer is getting pushed further due to a “Drone” injury to his finger). Meanwhile, Sanchez is probably Toronto’s best starter and Stroman was their opening day starter; I’d think both guys would get the ball before Happ. I may have to re-write this section before all is said and done. My gut feeling is that Cleveland’s superior record was attained thanks to a weaker division and the strong work of two starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) who are no longer there, and the step-down to Tomlin/Clevinger will cost them in the end. Meanwhile Toronto emerged from an AL East with four near-playoff quality teams and is battle tested. They had no problems going on the road to Texas and won’t either in the hitters park that is Cleveland. Toronto gets a split in Cleveland and then batters Cleveland’s #5 starters in Toronto. From there, its about what Kluber can do; can he get the series back to Cleveland? It could be a quick one.
Prediction: Toronto in 5.
Lastly, i’m stealing this thunder from Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk/NBCsports.com, but this final four will award a winner who has been waiting an awful long time to win a world Series.
Here’s the final four teams:
- Chicago Cubs: Last WS appearance was way back in 1945, and of course their last WS win was 1908.
- Dodgers: Last WS appearance and win in 1988 … in case you forgot, that series featured the epic Kirk Gibson walk-off homer in game 1.
- Toronto: Last WS appearance and win was the awesome Joe Carter walk-off in 1993, the year before divisional play took over.
- Cleveland: Last WS appearance was in 1997 (but really their big missed opportunity was losing in 1995 as a 100-44 win team), last WS win was of course in 1948.
Lots of history at stake here; imagine a Cleveland-Chicago series. For the historians that’d be the best. I think the best series quality wise would be Chicago-Toronto.