In Wednesday afternoon’s game 5 of the NLCS Craig Counsel did something that may have never been done before. He pulled his starter Wade Miley after one batter, Cody Bellinger. Not because Miley was injured or anything along those lines. From what anyone can tell it was a planned, strategic, move to get the Dodgers to set their lineup for a lefty starter and then end up facing a right handed pitcher in Brandon Woodruff. In addition Miley is now slated to start Friday for the Brewers.
Is Craig Counsel an evil genius making a move like this one or is he just delusional thinking this gives his team a leg up on the Dodgers?
What an exciting night of baseball we were able to take in on Tuesday. Boston thrilled us with over the top offense, while Los Angeles and Milwaukee kept us on the edge of our seats playing a tied game late in to the night.
Houston must be wondering is there any way to keep Boston’s bats from exploding? Last night the Red Sox put up eight runs on the Astros’ pitchers while being held to only two runs. Nathan Eovaldi went six innings giving up the only two runs of the game and the the Red Sox bullpen did the rest. Dallas Keuchel was somewhat strong through five innings giving up two runs as well, but once the bullpen stepped in it fell apart. Joe Smith took over for Keuchel and gave up the eventual winning run sixth and the icing on the cake was Roberto Osuna giving up a grand slam to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth. Throughout the regular season Houston’s pitching staff has been somewhat reliable and when they were not the high powered offense was able to make up for it, unfortunately that was not the case last night.
In a complete contrast from game three of the ALCS, game 4 of the NLCS was a pitching
duel. This game started off really rocky for the Brewers as they let one run score in the first and then had to take starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez out in the second after he twisted his ankle trying to field a ground ball, but young Freddy Peralta stepped in and pitched extremely well for Milwaukee and shut down the Dodgers for three innings allowing his team to climb back in to this game. In the fifth inning the Brewers tied the game up at one and then we went seven innings of scoreless baseball late in to the Southern California night. Finally in the 13th inning the struggling Cody Bellinger knocked in the Manny Machado to walk it off. It was a game for the ages and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
Leading up to game one of the ALCS all the talk was about the Boston Red Sox and not about the defending champions the Houston Astros. After game one the wind has shifted.
Houston came out and stunned Boston beating them 7-2 behind a great showing from Justin Verlander and a not so great start from Chris Sale.
Verlander held Red Sox hitters to just two hits over six innings and allowed two runs. While Sale only lasted four innings giving up two earned runs. Yes the stat line doesn’t look very different for the two starting pitchers, but the reality was Sale just was not at the top of his game.
Astros’ high powered offense was on full display with home runs by Josh Reddick and
Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel’s three run home run put this game out of reach in the ninth inning and deflated the Red Sox who couldn’t fight their way back from a five run deficit. Missing in action from this game was Boston’s offense being held to only three hits and no long balls.
Game two will have Gerrit Cole facing off against David Price on Sunday in Boston and it will be a chance for the Red Sox to heat up their cold bats. While Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will try and get their first hits of the ALCS and join the hot offense that surrounds them.
Sunday’s game could be a turning point in this series and if Houston could win it could be all but over for Boston.
Last night the Brewers put the smack down on the Dodgers, well they did for seven innings. So, what did we learn?
First, we learned that Craig Counsell has no faith in Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez went two innings giving up just one hit and one run. It was a good outing, but he was on a shorter leash then my dog in a pack of female dogs in heat. You have to wonder what that does to Gio’s confidence the next time he starts a game and what the rest of the starting pitchers are thinking as they take the mound. I know it is trendy to buck the system and do things no one else is doing, but is the playoffs really the time to be experimenting?
Second, we learned that Clayton Kershaw still has his troubles in the playoffs. Kershaw is now 8-8 in the playoffs with a 4.26 ERA in 133.0 innings. That’s 2 points higher than his career ERA of 2.39. Many will say its an anomaly and to pay no attention, by many I mean Dodgers fans, but there is something real there. It can not be denied that Clayton is just not himself come playoff time. It could be because the quality of teams he is facing is that much better or it could be something more than that, but Kershaw is not as good in the postseason.
Finally, we learned that the Brewers can win without the 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich contributing. Yelich was one of only two starting position players not to get a hit. Even with Yelich having an off night, he usually owns Kershaw, his teammates were able to get the win. If Yelich can get back to regular season form he will add even more offense to their lineup giving the Brewers a real chance to do some damage to the Dodgers.
Tomorrow we all will get to enjoy the beginning of the NLCS and Saturday the ALCS, so it is time to make some last minute predictions.
Let’s start with the National League awards. Clearly the National League MVP will be Christian Yelich. He has risen above all other candidates and lead his team to the playoffs and in to the NLCS. Yelich lead the NL in batting average, tied for third in home runs and third in OBP. What a season and what a major breakout.
Staying in the National League we turn to the Cy Young award. My heart wants Jacob DeGrom to win this one, but with only 10 wins it just may be too much to ask. So, I have no choice but to turn to, nope not Max Scherzer like you thought I would say, but to Aaron Nola. Nola finished the season with 17 wins, a WHIP of 0.97 and second in ERA at 2.37. Talk about a breakout, Nola improved his ERA by over 1.0 point and that was with an increase of nearly 60 more innings over last season. He is well deserving of the Cy Young and should be walking away with that hardware.
Switching leagues now to the American League we look at the AL MVP. This year the AL MVP won’t be going to my favorite player Mike Trout, instead it will head to the East Coast and go to Mookie Betts. Betts finished the regular season tied for ninth in home runs and first in runs and batting average with 129 and an average of .346. Though not quite as impressive as Nola’s breakout Betts does stay with our theme of breakout players winning hardware.
Finally the AL Cy Young will be awarded to a player who barely made the All-Star team this season, what a joke, Blake Snell. Snell may have been the best breakout of all of our breakouts this year. First in ERA and wins and second in WHIP the decision to give Snell the AL’s top pitching honor is a no brainer, but then again I thought him making the All-Star game was as well.
Ok, since you twisted my arm I will give one more prediction. Our 2018 World Series Champions will be the Houston Astros. They are not getting the respect they deserve, but will show everyone who the champs are.