So you’ve probably noticed by now, but there is no Bullpen Cart Podcast for the ALCS and NLCS. Greg and I both ran into scheduling issues since last Thursday and with Game 3 of the ALCS being played right now, I figured I might as well get SOMETHING on paper. We’ll be back for the World Series and stay tuned for The Funvee Tailgate this week with a special host. Here are my reactions and my thoughts going forward for both the ALCS and NLDS.
So far, we’ve seen the Astros narrowly win Games 1 & 2 with the starting pitching carrying the team. Keuchel DOMINATED Game 1 and Verlander somehow outdid that with a 13-strikeout complete game in Game 2. The Yankee offense seemed to be dormant in Houston and as they return to the Bronx, the bats should return. I say that considering that they’ve been a great home team all season and that two runs in as many games is something that happened to the Yankees only twice since the All-Star Break–most recently August 2nd & 3rd. In fact, as I was typing this, Todd Frazier belted a three-run homer to open up the Game 3 scoring in the bottom of the 2nd. The bats will be key as the starting pitching for the Yanks has been solid, Houston’s has been better. CC Sabathia hasn’t lost too many postseason starts since coming to New York and should be a major factor tonight as well as in a late-series game if we make it there. Houston’s bats should awaken as well. They’ll need to grind down the starting pitching and Joe Girardi get creative with his bullpen usage. They’ve been, obviously, successful with that considering the bullpen has pitched 6.1 of 16.1 innings pitched in the first two games but Houston will need more 4 inning affairs from Yankee pitching rather than what we saw in Games 4 and 5 of the ALDS.
Prediction: The Yankees are able to take two of the three games in New York thanks to the reemergent bats but they’re not enough to take all three games. With two games at home to close it out, the Astros’ pitching staff shuts down the Yankees before they can even come close to forcing a Game Seven. Astros in six.
The Cubs have had a weird series. First, the Buster Posey rule bites the Cubbies right in the ass as Joe Maddon gets ejected. (Wouldn’t have happened to a Lehigh grad, just sayin’ “Pards.”) Then, John Lackey appears out of the bullpen not once, that’d be normal for playoff baseball, but TWICE. His second appearance making way for Justin Turner’s BOMB to walk off with a 2-0 in style. Making it very clear that Lackey is staying in the pen, the Cubs need more than solid pitching to keep pace with the Dodgers. Sure, LA’s pitching has completely bested the Cubs, but the Cubs’ bats have been terrible. Obviously, it almost worked last night, but that’s only good for maybe one game, MAYBE! The Dodgers have so many ways to beat you offensively, their depth chart looks like an All-Star team–seriously, look at it! Greg and I talked about it on the Divisional Series preview when talking about the Cubs/Nationals series, the Cubs have been inconsistent all season and both the pre and post-All-Star Break Cubs can show up at any team. The only real knock against the Dodgers was their abysmal first two-thirds of September but after losing three-of-four to the Phillies (!!!), the Dodgers haven’t lost a series since. In fact, they’ve been dominant since September 20th putting together numerous game scoring 8, 9, and 10 runs, including in the playoffs. Simply put, the Cubs’ bats REALLY need to wake up in order to have a chance.
Prediction: With marquee pitching matchups in Game 3 (Darvish vs. Hendricks) and 4 (Wood vs. Arrietta), it’s hard to not see this series remain to be low-scoring. However, both of these teams can explode with power. It’d be a shame to not see the Cubs have an explosive game just once. As great of a regular season as Alex Wood had for LA, it’s hard to see him making his first postseason start a memorable one (4.91 ERA in 4 career postseason appearances). LA takes the 3-0 lead after a postseason rebound start for Yu Darvish in Game 3; the Cubs’ bats take Wood out very early to win Game 4; but LA overpowers the Cubs once again to close out the NLCS in Game 5. Dodgers in 5.
Disagree with my picks? Let me know in the comments…Follow @geordo9