Tag Archives: ALDS

cubs

2016 World Series preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians — A battle of the droughts

With the conclusion of the ALCS and NLCS, we have reached what may be the most anticipated World Series in quite some time with the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won the World Series since 1948, taking on the Chicago Cubs, whose World Series-winning drought famously dates back more than a century to 1908, and their last World Series appearance taking place in 1945 — before the World Series was even televised.

Regardless of the lack of World Series success the teams have had in their respective histories, they both deserve to be in this year’s Fall Classic; the Cubs had a MLB-best 103 wins during the regular season, while the Indians’ 94 wins left them one victory behind the Rangers, giving them the second-best record in the American League. The Indians bulldozed their way through the American League playoffs, sweeping the Red Sox in the ALDS and beating the Blue Jays in the ALCS, losing just one game to win the series in five. The Cubs’ path to the World Series was a little more difficult; they needed four games to beat the Giants in the NLDS and the Dodgers took them to six games in the NLCS.

The American League won this year’s All-Star Game for the fourth straight season, giving the Indians home-field advantage in the World Series. As a result, Games 1 and 2 will be in Cleveland. Wrigley Field will host its first World Series game in 71 years on Friday when Game 3 takes place, with Games 4 and, if necessary, 5 following it over the weekend — assuming there are no weather issues that affect the schedule. If Games 6 and 7 are necessary, they are scheduled for Cleveland on Nov. 1 and 2, respectively. First pitch for all games, except Game 5 on Sunday, are scheduled for 8:08pm Eastern; first pitch Sunday is at 8:15pm Eastern. All games are on Fox in the U.S.

The Cubs have the advantage in the starting rotation, led by likely National League Cy Young winner SP Kyle Hendricks, who pitched 7.1 innings of 2-hit ball in Game 6 of the NLCS to clinch the pennant for the Cubs. During the regular season, Hendricks was 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA. SP Jon Lester also had a big season for the Cubs, going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA. After a strong start to the season, SP Jake Arrieta was inconsistent in the second half en route to a 18-8 record and 3.10 ERA. If a fourth starter is needed in the series, the task would likely fall to veteran SP John Lackey, who is a two-time World Series champion, having won it with the 2002 Angels and 2013 Red Sox. Injuries have had an affect on the Indians’ rotation, with SPs Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar missing significant chunks of the season; Carrasco is out for the season, but Salazar has recently started throwing and could be added to the World Series roster. Leading the Tribe’s rotation is SP Corey Kluber, who led the team during the season with a 18-9 record to go with his 3.14 ERA. Behind him in the rotation are SP Josh Tomlin, who was 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA this season, and SP Trevor Bauer, who is confident he’ll be able to pitch in the World Series despite a well-publicized finger laceration caused by a recent drone accident. If Bauer can’t go, P Ryan Merritt may get his second start of the postseason; he went 4.1 scoreless innings in the Game 5 clincher.

While the Cubs have the better rotation, the bullpen advantage goes the other way, with the Indians. RP Andrew Miller, who was acquired from the Yankees in a midseason trade, was an X-factor in the ALCS and could be the same against the Cubs. He can come in in the middle of the game if needed or pitch later in the game to get the ball to closer Cody Allen with the lead intact. In six appearances in the postseason, Miller has struck out 21 batters in 11.2 innings while earning a win and a save and not allowing an earned run. Allen is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities this postseason. Like the Indians, the Cubs acquired a top-level reliever from the Yankees before the trade deadline, RP Aroldis Chapman, who saved 18 games for the Cubs during the regular season after the trade. His numbers in the postseason haven’t been great, however. Chapman has gone 8 innings, with 10 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA. He is 1-0 and a has 3 saves in 5 opportunities. That’s not the way you want your closer to be pitching heading into the World Series.

Offense is another part of the game in which the Cubs have the edge.  OF Javier Baez has been leading the charge at the plate for the Cubs, with 13 hits in 38 at-bats, with 4 doubles, 1 home run and 2 steals. 3B Kris Bryant is right up there with Baez; he’s 13-for-39 with 5 doubles and 1 home run. 1B Anthony Rizzo and SS Addison Russell have underperformed in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Each of them is currently hitting under .200 so if they can get back to the offensive production the Cubs have come to expect from them, that would give the Cubs more of an offensive boost. For the Indians, SS Francisco Lindor is the sole regular hitting over .300; he has 10 hits in 31 at-bats, with 2 doubles and 2 home runs. Other key hitters, like 2B Jason Kipnis and 1B Mike Napoli have sub-.200 batting averages in the postseason. If they can’t get out of their slumps early in the series, don’t expect them to have much success against the Cubs’ stellar starting pitchers.

Neither team is lacking in the managerial department, with Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Indians skipper Terry Francona both considered among the best in the majors.

My preseason prediction for the World Series was the Blue Jays over the Cubs. Toronto fell just shy of making it, but the Cubs are in it. With the way the Cubs played all season and the strong starting pitching they’ve gotten in the postseason, I’m going to pick them to win their first World series title in 108 years. I think the series will go six games, which would mean the series would finish in Cleveland and the Cubs wouldn’t be able to celebrate the title at Wrigley.

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MLB Postseason Preview: Predictions

Now that the Wild Card games are over and the division series are set, time to predict what’s going to happen in the playoffs.

American League
Division Series
Red Sox beat Indians in 4 games
Blue Jays beat Rangers in 5 games

Championship Series
Blue Jays beat Red Sox in 6 games

National League
Division Series
Nationals beat Dodgers in 5 games
Cubs beat Giants in 5 games

Championship Series
Cubs beat Nationals in 6 games

World Series

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beat

chc_1200x630

in 7 games.

I’m 2-0 after the Wild Card games, let’s see how I do in the rest of the playoffs.

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MLB Postseason Preview: American League Wild Card game — Orioles at Blue Jays

With another MLB regular season in the books, it’s time for the postseason to begin, with the first game being the American League Wild Card game, taking place Tuesday at Rogers Centre in Toronto, with the Toronto Blue Jays (89-73) hosting the Baltimore Orioles (89-73) in a battle of AL East teams. SP Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77 ERA) is slated to get the start for the Orioles and SP Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37 ERA) is set to take the mound for the home team.

The Orioles were only three games under .500 on the road this season, which isn’t that bad, so having to play in Toronto may not be a big disadvantage for them despite the Blue Jays being nine games over .500 at home.

I’ve got to give the advantage in starting pitching to Tillman, as Stroman didn’t live up to the expectations that some people had for him this season. Tillman hasn’t been going deep into games as of late, however. The last time he pitched more than 6 innings in a game was on August 11 when he went 7 innings at Oakland, allowing 5 hits and 2 earned runs. He didn’t last more than 6 innings in any of his four starts against the Blue Jays this season. Stroman, on the other hand, went 7 innings in each of his last two starts of the regular season, going 7 scoreless against the Yankees on September 24 and giving up 4 earned runs against the Orioles on September 29. In four starts against the Orioles, Stroman went 7 innings twice, but went just 3.2 innings and 5.1 innings in the other starts.

Given those stats, you can’t expect either starter to go deep into the game, so the bullpens will likely have an impact on the outcome. The Orioles have the definite advantage there, as their relievers finished the year with the third-lowest bullpen ERA in the majors at 3.40, and the Blue Jays’ 4.11 bullpen ERA was the 22nd best in the majors. Orioles closer Zach Britton led the American League with 47 saves, which was tied for the second-most in the majors. He did not have a blown save all year. RP Roberto Osuna served as Toronto’s closer for most of the season, notching 36 saves in 42 opportunities.

Offensively, the teams are pretty evenly matched, with both set up as power teams that don’t necessarily hit for a high average. The Orioles led the majors with 253 home runs, but the Blues Jays can also hit the long ball, as their 221 home runs were good for fourth in MLB. Orioles OF Mark Trumbo was the major league leader with 47 home runs while Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion was tied for third with 42 home runs.

Stroman will have to keep the Orioles’ bats quiet early in the game so Baltimore can’t get a lead to hand off to Britton in the latter innings of the ballgame because of he comes into the game in a save situation, that’ll be trouble for the Blue Jays if Britton’s season stats hold true in this game. It’ll be a close game, but I’ll pick the Blue Jays to win it.

The winning team moves on to play the AL West champion Texas Rangers in one ALDS on Thursday; the AL Central champion Indians play the AL East champion Red Sox in the other ALDS, which also begins Thursday.

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mlbpostseason2015

Play ball: 2015 MLB postseason predictions

Now that the Wild Card games are over and the division series are set, time to predict what’s going to happen in the playoffs.

American League
Division Series
Astros beat Royals in 4 games
Blue Jays beat Rangers in 4 games

Championship Series
Blue Jays beat Astros in 6 games

National League
Division Series
Cubs beat Cardinals in 5 games
Dodgers beat Mets in 4 games

Championship Series
Dodgers beat Cubs in 7 games

World Series

beat

in 5 games

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MLB postseason preview: American League Wild Card game — Astros at Yankees

The 2015 MLB regular season is over and the postseason is about to begin. The first game of the postseason is the American League Wild Card game, taking place Tuesday at Yankee Stadium between the Houston Astros I86-76) and the New York Yankees (87-75), who finished in second place in the AL West and AL East, respectively. Twenty-game winner Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) is scheduled to start the game for the Astros, on three-days rest, while Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA) is set to take the mound for the home team.

The Astros are at a disadvantage on the road, where they were 33-47 this year, compared to 53-28 at home, but they do have one of the leading AL Cy Young candidates pitching for them in Keuchel. Although he is going to have to pitch in the game on short rest, Keuchel pitched well against the Yankees this season, throwing 16 shutout innings in the two contests and giving up 9 hits while striking out 21 and walking just 1. If those numbers are any indication, the Yankee hitters have yet to figure out how to hit against him.

Tanaka will look to pitch the Yankees into the ALDS against a lineup that finished the year with the second-most home runs in the majors (230) but also struck out more times (1392) than any team but the Cubs. When he went against the Astros in Houston on June 27, he gave up 7 hits and 6 earned runs in 5 innings of work. He struck out 5 and walked 2 in the no-decision. The 6 earned runs he allowed was the most he has given up in any of his 44 starts in his major league career.

If you give much credence to the pitchers’ performances against the opponents during the regular season, Keuchel would clearly get the advantage, but there is a question about how he will handle pitching on short rest for the first time this season.

Looking at the offense, the Astros are one of the biggest all-or-nothing offenses in the league, as evidenced by the home run and strikeout numbers referenced above. When they’re going strong, they can launch home run after home run, but when they’re in a cold spell, they’re susceptible to being shut out. Overall, though, their team average was roughly even with the Yankees’ at .250 for the Astros and .251 for the Yankees. The Yankees’ offense slowed down in the second half of the season, as you might expect from a team that has a lot of older hitters, like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran; after the all-star break, the Yankees hit .248 and the Astros batted .263. The Yankees’ drop-off is even more noticeable when you look at the numbers for September and October. Last month, the Astros’ average was .272 (fourth in MLB) and the Yankees’ was just .233 (28th in MLB). In the few games played this month, the Astros led the majors with a .347 average in the small sample size, and the Yankees ranked 16th at .233.

I may be biased as an Astros fan, but I think they have the advantage in the Wild Card game. Looking at Keuchel’s numbers against New York and the way the Yankees’ team average has trailed off of late, I don’t think they’ll be able to win the game. Home-field advantage doesn’t mean as much in baseball as it does in other sports so I don’t think that will benefit the Yankees much. In the end, I just think the Astros are the better team right now going into the playoffs and they have one of the American League’s best pitchers leading them into the game.

The winning team moves on to play the AL Central champion Kansas City Royals in an ALDS on Thursday; the AL West champion Rangers play the AL East champion Blue Jays in the other ALDS, which also begins Thursday.

Play ball: 2014 MLB postseason predictions

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Now that the Wild Card games are over and the division series are set, time to predict what’s going to happen in the playoffs.

American League
                                 Division Series
Tigers beat Orioles in 4 games
Angels sweep Royals in 3 games

Championship Series
Tigers beat Angels in 6 games

National League
Division Series
Dodgers beat Cardinals in 4 games
Nationals beat Giants in 4 games

Championship Series
Dodgers beat Nationals in 7 games

World Series

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beat

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in 6 games