Tag Archives: NLDS

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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2016-mlb-postseason-logo

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: National League Wild Card game — Giants at Mets

It’s October, which means it’s time for the MLB postseason, and we’re previewing the wild card games that get the playoffs underway. We previewed the American League Wild Card game last night, now it’s time to do the same with the National League game. The New York Mets (87-75) host the San Francisco Giants (87-75) in this year’s NL Wild Card game, with SP Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74 ERA) taking the mound for the Giants and SP Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA) drawing the start for the Mets.

With the numbers Bumgarner and Syndergaard put up during the season, you can expect a pitcher’s duel in this one. Syndergaard and Bumgarner finished third and fourth, respectively, in the majors in ERA this season. Bumgarner started to stumble a bit in the latter part of the season, giving up at least 3 earned runs in four of his last five starts, including a 5-run outing at the Padres in his penultimate start on September 24. Bumgarner struggled a bit on the road, going 6-5 in 17 road starts, with a 3.39 ERA away from San Francisco. Other than a 5-run outing against the Braves in his second-to-last start of the season, Syndergaard finished the year strong, allowing 2 earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. He was 6-6 in 16 home starts this season, with a 2.87 ERA at Citi Field.

The pressure of postseason baseball typically doesn’t faze Bumgarner. In 13 career postseason starts, he is 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA. In his most recent postseason appearance in 2014, Bumgarner 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA in seven appearances, including six starts. In his four postseason appearances last year, including three starts, Syndergaard was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA. Despite Syndergaard’s numbers trending better of late than Bumgarner’s, I give the Giants the advantage in starting pitching because the pressure of the big stage doesn’t seem to affect him as much as it does other players.

The Mets have the advantage in the bullpen. Their 55 saves this season were second in the majors, behind only the Rangers’ 56. The Giants were middle of the pack with 43 saves. Led by closer Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ 3.53 bullpen ERA was sixth best in the majors, while the Giants’ 3.65 ERA was 15th best. Familia was 51-for-56 in save opportunities with a 2.55 ERA for the Mets, and RP Santiago Casilla saved 31 games for the Giants in 40 chances while posting a 3.57 ERA. If the game is decided by the bullpen, the Mets have the advantage there.

Offensively, the Mets have a distinct advantage over the Giants in the power department, hitting 218 home runs compared to San Francisco’s 130, which was the third fewest in the majors. Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes was tied for ninth in the National League with 31 home runs, while the Giants’ leading home-run hitter, 1B Brandon Belt, had just 17. The Giants are better when it comes to making contact with the ball, though, with a .258 average vs. the Mets’ .246.

In the playoffs, good pitching usually beats good hitting. I think Bumgarner gives the Giants a decisive advantage in that area and I think he’ll be able to keep the Mets hitters from getting the ball into the stands of Citi Field. I say Bumgarner leads the Giants to the win in a low-scoring game as they try to make it to the World Series in a fourth-straight even-numbered year.

The winning team moves on to play the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs in one NLDS on Friday; the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers play the NL East champion Washington Nationals in the other NLDS, which also begins Friday.

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Bartolo Colon hits his first career home run

MLB Weekly: Bartolo does the “impossible”, Yankees lose 2 to injuries

In this week’s MLB Weekly, we recap a historic at-bat for a veteran pitcher and take a look at two injured veterans for the struggling Yankees.

Looking Back

What should have been a run-of-the-mill at-bat for Mets SP Bartolo Colon on Saturday afternoon turned into a historic hit and social-media phenomenon. The 42-year-old former Cy Young winner, whose hitting style has become a bit of a running joke on social media in recent years, recorded his first hit of the season — a two-run home run to left field in the top of the 2nd inning off of Padres SP James Shields. The home run put Colon in the record books, becoming the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to hit his first career home run. Hall of Famer Randy Johnson previously held the record, hitting his first long ball in 2003 at the age of 40; Colon will turn 43 later this month. Colon also becomes the second-oldest Met to homer, behind former infielder Julio Franco, who homered as a member of the Mets at the age of 48. Mets broadcaster couldn’t believe it, stating that “the impossible has happened” by Colon hitting his first home run in his 226th career at-bat. Colon’s career batting average now stands at .092.

There’s not as much fun to be had for the other New York team these days, as the Yankees remain in last place in the AL East, with an 11-17 record entering Sunday night’s series finale against the Red Sox. This week, DH Alex Rodriguez and SP CC Sabathia both went on the DL. Rodriguez suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s game and Sabathia injured his game in Wednesday’s game. Both players are hopeful to be able to come off of the DL when they are eligible after 15 days. For the team, things appear to be on the upswing; they have won the first two games of the three-game series with the Red Sox but remain six games under .500.

The league announced this week that the two-game series between the Pirates and Marlins that was scheduled to be played in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 30 and 31 has been moved to Miami due to concerns with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.

Elsewhere in MLB, the Cubs continue to roll, winning a series with the Nationals, as they maintain a sizable lead in the NL Central. The Mariners have surged into first place in the NL West, despite a loss to the Astros Sunday, after starting the season 2-6. And the White Sox are still on top of the AL Central with a 22-10 record, trying to keep up with the other Chicago team.

The Week Ahead

Chase Utley slides into Ruben Tejada

Dodgers 2B Chase Utley with a controversial slide into Mets SS Ruben Tejada during the 2015 postseason

Taking a look at series to watch for this week, the Rangers host the White Sox for three games beginning Monday in a battle of teams at or near the top of their divisions. The same can be said for the Dodgers and Mets, who play in Los Angeles Monday through Thursday in a rematch of last season’s NLDS. Later in the week, the Angels try to make up ground in the AL West when they head to Seattle for a series with the Mariners. The Rangers host the  underperforming Blue Jays, who need to start winning to try to get back into the race in the AL East, beginning Friday. And the Pirates, who currently sit in second place in the NL Central, visit the division-leading Cubs starting Friday as they try to close the gap between the teams in the standings.

Looking at pitching matchups scheduled for this week, Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg puts his perfect 6-0 record on the line Monday against Tigers SP Anibal Sanchez, and Yankees SP Ivan Nova takes Sabathia’s spot in the rotation while CC is on the DL; Nova faces Royals SP Chris Young at Yankee Stadium. Mets SP Jacob DeGrom tries to pick up his first career win at Dodger Stadium Tuesday as he opposes Dodgers SP Alex Wood. There are a couple notable pitching matchups projected for Wednesday, with former teammates facing off in D.C. with Tigers SP Jordan Zimmermann, who has a 1.40 ERA this season, going up against Nationals SP Max Scherzer and Mets SP Noah Syndergaard getting the start against Dodgers SP Kenta Maeda.

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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

national league wild card

MLB postseason preview: National League Wild Card game — Cubs at Pirates

With the MLB postseason about to begin, we’re previewing the wild card games that get the playoffs underway. We previewed the American League Wild Card game last night, now it’s time to do the same with the National League game. The NL Wild Card features familiar foes, the NL Central rival Chicago Cubs (97-65) and Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. SP Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) gets the start for the Cubs while SP Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60 ERA) gets the nod for the Pirates.

With the impressive numbers Arrieta and Cole put up this season, you can expect a pitcher’s duel in this one, and offense will likely be at a premium for the teams with the second- and third-best records in the majors this season.

Arrieta had one of the best pitching performances in recent memory, winning 22 games with an ERA well under 2.00. He also struck out 236 batters in 229 innings, making him a leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award. His numbers since the all-star break are particularly impressive. In 15 starts, he went 12-1, with a 0.75 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 107.1 innings. He also threw two complete game shutouts in the second half, including a no-hitter against the Dodgers on August 30.

Cole had a good season himself, though it looks fairly pedestrian compared to the numbers Arrieta put up. Cole.had 202 strikeouts in 208 innings, going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA. Unlike Arrieta, Cole regressed a bit in the second half, particularly in September and October, when his ERA was 3.29, the highest of any month this season. At home this season, Cole went 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA.

The Cubs definitely have the advantage at starting pitcher, but the Pirates likely have the edge if the game ends up in the hands of the bullpen. Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon had 51 saves this season, with a 2.23 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. The Cubs had several pitchers act as closer during the season, eventually settling on Hector Rondon, who saved 30 games with a 1.67 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 70 innings.

Offensively, the Pirates had a significantly better team batting average than the Cubs (.260 vs .244), but the Cubs have a definite advantage in the power department, hitting the fifth-most home runs in the National League, with 171 — 31 more than the Pirates’ 140. The Cubs, however, strike out a lot — 1,518 times to be exact, the most in the majors this season. As I discussed with the Astros yesterday, if the Cubs hit a dry spell, a good pitcher can get them out. If guys like 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo are on their game, though, I think they’ll hit in the game.

When a game is expected to be a pitcher’s duel, like this one is, I think you have to lean toward the team with the better starting pitcher. In this case, that is by far Arrieta. I think he has another strong start in him and will be able to hold down the Pirates offense so I believe the Cubs will win the game and head into the NLDS as they attempt to play in their first World Series since 1945.

The winning team moves on to play the NL Central champion Cardinals in an NLDS on Friday; the NL West champion Dodgers play the NL East champion Mets in the other NLDS, which also begins Friday.

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

image

beat

image

in 6 games