Well, the postseason in just two games, has already shown the need to have great pitching. Jake Arrieta with the Cubs was absolutely amazing against the Pirates, going up against pitcher Garett Cole, who is no slouch himself, but the Cubbies got to Cole early and it spiraled from there. A lot of similarities to the Astros win over the Yankees on Tuesday night, with Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez hitting solo blasts, to essentially put New York away, before it was made official.
Quick starts will be a theme in the postseason. If hitters get to the starting pitcher in the early innings that then triggers the manager to bring in middle relief earlier then you ideally want, thus wearing down the bullpen. Conversely, when the starting pitcher gets in the zone, like both Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta did for their respective teams in the Wild Card games, ala Madison Bumgarner last postseason, then there really isn’t much the opposing team can do, but continue to grind through at-bats and possibly knock that pitcher out with a couple mistakes. Arrieta and Keuchel didn’t make mistakes, at least any that were egregious and costly to their team.
Now it’s the start of the LDS series in the National and American League and boy are there some amazing matchups. Plus, with the NLDS and ALDS being only a best of 5 series, there are some openings for upsets. Who has the best chance at the upset?!
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Both teams have been playing well to get into the playoffs, with Toronto really standing out, but let’s not also forget that the Rangers were once down quite a few game to the Astros. At one time 8 games out in the second half of the season, only to take control of the division and dispose of another threat chasing the division and a wild card spot in the Angels, who made a great surge at the end of the season to put themselves back into the race. Both teams are battle tested, with great veterans and great pitching. The Blue Jays get so much attention, the pitching almost gets overlooked. I’m sure Toronto would like to fly under the radar in regards to that, because with Price, Stroman, Dickey to name a few, that pitching staff should be getting overlooked in the postseason. That’s why I lean Blue Jays over Rangers in 5.
In the other half of the ALDS, it’s the Astros and Royals. The Royals at the top of the AL, after being the Wild Card game winner last season know what’s it’s like to be the underdog. Kansas City dominated the AL postseason last year and it seemed to stem from the Wild Card game, where hitting and pitching started to come together. The Astros have a similar thing going right now after beating the Yankees 3-0 at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Sure, Keuchel was great, but the bullpen needed to contribute in this contest, and they better contribute in the ALDS or it could be a short one for Houston. I like the Royals for many factors, but even with the loss of Greg Holland in the pen, the Royals are a resilient team, who like Houston, needs to have their pitching and hitting meet up, but I anticipate even with the last 3-4 weeks of struggles to end the season, they still won home field throughout the postseason and have been battle tested, which is huge come playoff time. I like Kansas City in 4.
In the National League, Mets and Dodgers seems compelling, especially when you incorporate the lack of Mets success over the years and wondering if the Dodgers get over that hump and finally make it to the World Series. If not, I think the Dodgers are in trouble, specifically manager Don Mattingly. He’s been on a hot seat, even when he got a contract extension, but that’s what happens when you have the highest payroll in the majors and oh, by the way, you’re in L.A. The stakes are always higher. However, I think with the 1-2 punch of Greinke and Kershaw, L.A. moves on the NLCS to play either the Cardinals or the Chicago Cubs. I like the Dodgers in 5.
Featured Image by: Chris Kim