Saturday, October 13, 2012

Strasburg decision will haunt Nationals

This post will not revisit the debate surrounding the decision to shut down Stephen Strasuburg after 159+ innings. The right and wrong arguments do not matter at this point. What does matter is that the Nationals were one and done for post season series in the aftermath and fans of the team, writers and perhaps even the players themselves will forever ask, "What if."

The Nationals were among the best stories of 2012. But the team's wonderful season became a footnote when the circus began about Strasburg. Instead of being celebrated for what the team had become, the team became embattled by its stoic stance to stick to the plan. And to show just how fickle baseball writing can be, the same writers who have long passed judgement on Dusty Baker for "killing" Prior and Wood were lambasting the Nationals for their decision making.

The Nationals did not have to win a World Series title to put aside these questions. But a win in Game Five against the Cardinals would have at least blunted some of the finger-pointing. Instead, a pitching collapse of epic proportions will keep the story in people's minds for a very long time. Nobody knows if Strasburg would have made a difference. Heck, he couldn't have done worse than the way Gio Gonzalez handled that six run lead. It seems that if Strasburg was in there, he would have at least thrown strikes. But he wasn't there, so we will never know.

Much of this current reality can be overcome if the Nationals again make it to the playoffs next year. But if they don't? Well, then the fans grown by that team's season this year will never get over the questions of what might have been.

It has been written this week that the Nationals loss of Strasburg in these playoffs had only a marginal effect. Tell that to the Nationals' fans that just witnessed that pitching meltdown. It had to effect them. Take away one stone from an archway and that archway is not nearly as stable. He was a major stud in that rotation. Did he have his share of clunker starts? Well, yes, he did. Would he have performed well against the Cardinals in the post season? Who knows. We'll never get to know. He would not have been worse than what transpired.

The lost series to the Cardinals was the worst thing to happen to Mike Rizzo and the Nationals. They needed to win at least one series to keep Strasburg from becoming the anchor around their necks. Everything they accomplished this season will be overlooked by the decision. Their 98-win season is moot. A series win might not have made the question go away. But it would have helped. Now, these 2012 Nationals will be plagued by the decision they made forever.

Game Picks - Saturday: October 13, 2012

To put it mildly, the ending to the series between the Cardinals and the Nationals was quite interesting. To put it in Fan perspective, HOLY FREAKIN' SUSAN! What the heck happened there!? The Nationals had a six to nothing lead. Six to nothing! And lost? And so ends one of 2012's best stories. Instead, a team that can never play well enough during the season to win a division continues another October run. The Giants probably won't know what hit them. This feels so crappy for Davey Johnson. He really deserved better. But, alas, no one said sports is fair.

But at least the Giants have a day more to think about it. The Yankees must put away their champagne right away to face the Tigers a day after finally disposing of those gnats, the Orioles. Of course, this might be the coldest ALCS in history as the weather has turned winter-like already and Detroit and New York haven't been hot spots in that equation. And of course, there is the ever-involving story of Alex Rodriguez. Sheesh, what a mess that is.

So the one pick is all we have today. So let's go ahead and make it:

  • The Yankees over the Tigers: The Yankees are at home and they seem to play better when they don't have days off. Doug Fister won't be easy, of course, to deal with. The Yankees faced him twice last post season and got to him once and lost to him once. A lot will depend on if Fister's command is "on" or not. The Yankees have Andy Pettitte on the mound. The old guy can still pitch and has been here before. He pitched well in his first start of the post season though he lost the game. Will A-Rod play? What happens if he doesn't? Wow, what a distraction that could be. Seems to this picker that the Yankees have to play him. The Yankees have to control Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera and keep Austin Jackson off the bases.

Yesterday: 1-1
Post season: 8-14
Season: 1341-1081

Friday, October 12, 2012

Strikeouts came back to bite Athletics

Back in early September, the one worry presented in this space for the Cinderella Oakland Athletics was their prestigious strikeout rate. At the time that post was created, the fear was that the inability of the A's to make consistent contact would prevent them from getting to the playoffs. Well, that fear was unfounded as the team had a remarkable run to the finish line. But the bugaboo of whiffs did ultimately sink them in their series against the Tigers.

Oh, the Tigers' pitching did have something to do with that. After all, Justin Verlander pitched twice in the series and Max Scherzer had a better strikeout rate than his CYA teammate. But still, the inability to hit the ball and put it in play sunk the A's. They struck out 29.5 percent of their plate appearances in this series. After watching all the series this week, it was thought with Granderson and A-Rod that the Yankees were striking out more (both those players have nine each). But the Yankees strikeout rate for their series is 22.9 percent.

The Oakland A's led the American League in strikeouts this season. It was always a problem that was masked by an incredible penchant to get the most out of every young starter and make every run count. They truly had a remarkable season and should be proud and thrilled with how far they came this season. But ultimately, against tough opposition pitching, you have to find a way to put the ball in play. When you do so, you at least have a chance to make things happen. The A's could not do that enough in their ALDS and it ultimately cost them.

Yoenis Cespedes 5 21 19 2 2 0.749 9.5%
Coco Crisp 5 22 22 0 2 0.5 9.1%
Josh Donaldson 5 18 17 1 4 0.686 22.2%
Stephen Drew 5 21 19 2 7 0.602 33.3%
Jonny Gomes 1 1 1 0 0 0 0.0%
George Kottaras 4 4 4 0 2 0 50.0%
Brandon Moss 5 17 15 2 7 0.411 41.2%
Derek Norris 5 12 12 0 6 0.167 50.0%
Cliff Pennington 5 17 14 3 4 0.697 23.5%
Josh Reddick 5 18 17 1 10 0.461 55.6%
Seth Smith 5 18 15 3 6 0.716 33.3%

There is no blame here. The A's took the series to the brink. They played great and had a great season. The only thing this post is trying to state is that the team had too many players that did not put the ball in play. You can survive a couple. But when six of your regular players are above 30 percent strikeout rates, it makes it that much tougher to score runs against very good pitching.

Even so, congrats, Oakland Athletics, on your wonderful ride and season. It was a blast.

Game Picks - Friday: October 12, 2012

The Game Picks continued its utter futility at picking this post season. It's silly really. There were four games yesterday and only the Tigers win behind a studly performance by Justin Verlander was correct. Phil Hughes only allowed one run in his start for the Yankees. Normally, if that happened, He would win nineteen of twenty times. But the Orioles would not let the Yankees score more than one run in an unbelievable performance of hitting the margins all day. The Nationals proved their metal by their win over the Cardinals, their first ever in Washington, D.C to force a Game Five. And the Giants, behind Buster Posey, simply won a battle of will against the Reds, who never stopped trying. None of those things were predicted here.

And so there are two Game Fives today. By the end of the day, one fan base will be crushed and the other will be exultant. Which will it be? You are asking this game picker at this point? We'll all be watching together to find out. But just for the sake of doing the job and getting it done, here are Friday's picks:

  • The Yankees over the Orioles: There is less and less confidence that the Yankees will ever hit in this series. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson could not hit a beachball with their bats right now. And the Orioles' pitching has been unbelievable in their ability to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. Jason Hammel is just like all the rest of the Orioles. No knee? No reps? No problem. Start the game and look like Cy Young for six innings. The Yankees fate rests in the hands of C.C. Sabathia. If he is ace-like, the Yankees should win. If he is not, they lose. Simple as that.
  • The Nationals over the Cardinals: This one should be a great game. The Nationals win IF Gio Gonzalez pitches the game of his life and IF their batters can get to Adam Wainwright early. Those are two big if statements. They will have the home crowd to cheer them on and they have to remember and perform like they were the best team in the National League this season. These two teams combined for six total hits yesterday. So if that happens again, it's a total crap shoot...which describes just about every playoff game thus far.

Yesterday: 1-3
Post season: 7-13
Season: 1340-1080

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jose Valverde went boom

Jose Valverde is an odd creature. And that oddness makes him amusing to some and hated by others. He has the oddest appearance of just about any player in major league history. Pot-bellied, wild-eyed, crazy hair and odd gait all add to the side show of his antics on the mound. When he gets the job done, it always seems a miracle. When he doesn't, the failure is spectacular. For Oakland fans, his latest performance was a godsend. To Tigers' fans, it was a heartbreak.

To sort of sum up the feelings of hate he inspired, one Yankees' fan tweeted last night, "Eat it, Valverde." Oh, he ate it alright. It was a stunning loss and a colossal failure. But let's give some credit to the Oakland batters who got the job done too.

But to get beyond the clown suit and the antics and the emotions involved with "Papa Grande," what the heck happened last night? The answer can be encapsulated with these conclusions: Not enough velocity, too many strikes, BABIP. 


Valverde has lost a yard on his fastball. In 2009 and 2010, he averaged 95 MPH on his fastball and 86 on his split-fingered pitch. Last year, those figures went down to 93.9 and 85.7. Well, the split-fingered pitch stayed the same. This year, his fastball was down to 93.4 and the split to 84.1. That two miles per hour make a big difference.

Last night, he threw eleven fastballs and they averaged 91.48 and he threw three splits that averaged 82.17 MPH. So clearly, Valverde did not possess his best stuff. That leads to the question of whether it was just a bad night, or if his health is a factor.

Too many strikes

How can a pitcher throw too many strikes? That does not sound logical. But remember, his velocity was down. Way down. So as such, he needed to pitch much more to the margins and did not. He threw only fourteen total pitches to six batters. Three of his six first pitches were in the heart of the plate. Two others were hittable pitches. The other was out of the strike zone for a ball. See the chart below from Brooks Baseball.

Three of those first pitches were put in play, two of them successfully. The bottom line was that too many of his sub-velocity pitches were too easily in reach of Athletics' batters. Six batters did all that damage on just fourteen pitches.


BABIP is a product of how hard a batter hits the ball and also where the ball is hit. Four of the five balls put in play against Valverde found a safe landing. There is some degree of bad luck in there. But it is just as much true that the balls were hit hard. A BABIP of .800 is a good recipe for losing.

It was a wild victory for the Athletics. Their fans were wild with delight. Tigers' fans were in misery. And those who did not share a stake in either of the teams laughed and pointed at the clown who tripped and fell in front of everyone. The truth is that the clown did not have his best props and it was a spectacular debacle.

Game Picks - Thursday: October 11, 2012

What an incredible night of baseball. Except if you are a fan of the Orioles and Tigers. If so, much sympathies as all baseball fans, especially long-term ones, know exactly how that felt and it is a horrible feeling. But for everyone else, nothing could have beaten the drama displayed as two teams in succession came from behind and walked off with victories. Amazing stuff.

As for the NLDS, both of the picks there yesterday were wrong. Both visiting teams took care of the home teams with ease to push the Reds - Giants series to the brink and gave the Cards a 2-1 lead in their series with the Nationals.

All four series will continue today. There is a possibility that all could end today and only wins by the Orioles and Nationals will extend those two series. The other two are Gave Five events. Wow.

It will be a packed day of baseball, so let's get to the picks:

  • The Reds over the Giants: The Reds are taking a pounding in the press over losing the last two games at home after winning the first two games of the series in San Francisco. But geez, these things do happen and the Giants are a playoff team that won a division handily. Two things will have to happen to make this pick a reality. First, Mat Latos has to come up big. Very big. Second, the Reds have to get to Matt Cain a second time which doesn't seem likely. This is a true tossup with the pick going to the home team.
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: Ross Detwiler is starting a game that is a do or die game for the Nationals. This is the truest consequence of the Strasburg decision and one that will be discussed for a very long time, especially if the Nats lose. Kyle Lohse is a very good pitcher who has been here before. He will hold down the Nationals and allow the bats to win the game.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: While not buying the meme that the Orioles will be shell-shocked and dejected, their backs are against the wall (cliche alert!). They have two win two games at Yankee Stadium. If they do beat Phil Hughes tonight, they have Sabathia tomorrow. Tough. Hughes, of course needs to come up big for the Yankees and he is certainly capable. He has to keep the ball in the ballpark. But if he struggles early, David Phelps and Derek Lowe are two good options. This pick is predicated on the belief that Joe Saunders cannot hold the Yankees down.
  • The Tigers over the Athletics: Hate making this pick. The A's have been such a fun story and last night was killer. But they get Justin Verlander, and while Verlander is not a god, he is quite the mortal. Jarrod Parker is very good too. The A's only hope here is to have Parker match zeroes with Verlander and make it a bullpen game. If they can do that, they have a good chance. If it is close, one has to wonder if Leyland would go with Jose Valverde again.

Yesterday: 2-2
Post season: 6-10
Season: 1339-1077

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tired of offensive scapegoating in the playoffs

How do teams get to the playoffs? They usually get there by hitting the ball reasonably well and pitching the ball well. Each playoff team has its top pitchers and relievers lined up for a short series. Is it ever a surprise when dominant pitching happens? Heck, in two playoff games yesterday, nineteen innings were played by four teams and the batters went a combined 16 for 121. Oof. That is a .132 batting average combined for all four playoff teams in action yesterday. And yet, despite this reality, a few offensive players are scapegoats for their team's performances. It's stupid.

Take some of these guys who are pretty good players:

Offense is difficult in the post season. The Giants as a team are batting .126. The Orioles are batting .227. The Tigers, .234 and the A's, .198. And yet, only some of these players listed above will get singled out and lambasted for their performances. What's with that?

We are dealing with small sample sizes and crap shoot scenarios. We have no business making any offensive player in this situation a scapegoat. For example, Prince Fielder is one for twelve. He has only struck out once. So his BABIP is .091. That is not a BABIP you would ever see over a long period of time. It is a fluke.

And even for a kid like Bryce Harper who has struck out a lot, look at the pitch charts on Brooks Baseball and see how good the pitching has been against him. This is the playoffs! The pitchers are good!

And yet, nearly every single website and newspaper that covers the Yankees (including the one this Fan writes for) is all over Alex Rodriguez for his nine measly at bats. Bryce Harper is accused of being anxious by a well-respected writer and is speared for having a negative response to such a stupid question.

The criticism is unfair. Everything that happens in the post season are random events packed into a tight space. With a million bloggers fighting for attention, these random events become magnified all out of proportion. If you don't want Derek Jeter over-glorified for his four for nine performance, than you cannot overdo the villain aspect of Alex Rodriguez.

Such blatant over-blaming also influences fan bases who are ever more informed and gobble up articles about their favorite teams. When they read this kind of hyper-criticism, they buy into it and boo and jeer their own players instead of creating an environment of support and cheering their hearts out. It is wrong, writers. Wrong!

It seems that most of the top analysts in the industry such as Dave Cameron and others, forget all about trying to calculate what happens in the post season. The sample sizes are too darn small. Once the post season starts, all you can do is sit back and see what all the randomness brings you. This reduces us to being mere spectators and fans of the events that are happening in front of us. And perhaps that is how it should be.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

MLB 2012 Post season awards

As a card-carrying member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, one of my favorite duties is to vote in the alliance's post season award ballot. Voting is fun and it certainly is much more favorable to not having a voice. That is true in our country as it is for these award selections. It is a privilege.

What follows is this Fan's official BBA ballot and feel free to disagree or agree as you will.

The Connie Mack Award (best manager)

National League
  1. Davey Johnson
  2. Bruce Bochy
  3. Dusty Baker

American League
  1. Bob Melvin
  2. Buck Showalter
  3. Joe Girardi

Rationale: How do you measure managers? It is impossible. So all such choices are subjective. The AL was a tossup and could have gone to either Melvin or Showalter. The A's sweep of the Rangers to end the season pushed the vote over the edge.

Willie Mays Award (top rookie)

National League
  1. Wade Miley
  2. Bryce Harper
  3. Mike Fiers

American League
  1. Mike Trout
  2. Yu Darvish
  3. Yoenis Cespedes

Rationale: The AL was a runaway and not worth discussing. In the NL, Miley and Harper both finished with the exact same fWAR. Miley simply impressed this voter more pitching that well in a tough environment in Arizona.

Goose Gossage Award (top relievers)

National League
  1. Craig Kimbrel
  2. Aroldis Chapman
  3. David Hernandez

American League
  1. Fernando Rodney
  2. Greg Holland
  3. Jake McGee

Rationale: The top two were no brain picks and so there is comfort there. The second and third picks were hard to judge as it is always difficult to rate relief pitchers. It was hard to leave Rafael Soriano out for the AL, for example.

Walter Johnson Award (best pitcher)

National League
  1. Gio Gonzalez
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. R.A. Dickey
  4. Johnny Cueto
  5. Wade Miley

American League
  1. Justin Verlander
  2. David Price
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Chris Sale
  5. Yu Darvish

Rationale: Verlander just has too studly numbers for David Price to overcome. Price had a fantastic, superlative season. Gonzalez pitched in a tougher division and thus the nod his way but it was close.

Stan Musial Award (top player)

National League
  1. Buster Posey
  2. Ryan Braun
  3. Yadier Molina
  4. David Wright
  5. Chase Headley
  6. Andrew McCutchen
  7. Aramis Ramirez
  8. Aaron Hill
  9. Jason Heyward
  10. Michael Bourn

American League
  1. Mike Trout
  2. Miguel Cabrera
  3. Robinson Cano
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Adrian Beltre
  6. Joe Mauer
  7. David Price
  8. Josh Hamilton
  9. Adam Jones
  10. Prince Fielder

Rationale: Posey was simply the best player in the NL this season. Braun had another great season and just fell short in this voter's mind. Molina had a fantastic season. And the Trout / Cabrera debate will rage for years.

That's the vote and feel free to bash away if you'd like.  :)  We all have opinions.

Game Picks - Tuesday: October 9, 2012

Once again, success picking the outcomes of the post seasons games seem elusive. After another 1-1 night, the post season picks stand at 4-6. The Cardinals were correctly picked, which seems really strange to type. That team's offense exploded and showed why they are the best offense in the National League. Their win split that series at one game a piece with the Nationals as the series heads now to Washington.

The Orioles played a terrific, near flawless game against the Yankees and evened up that series at one game apiece. Oriole pitching, especially in big situations, did a terrific job of pitching on the margins and not in the middle of the plate and the Orioles won, 3-2. That pick, of course, was incorrect. Those two teams will now go to New York to finish up that series in Yankee Stadium.

There are two playoff games today and both could result in series wins for the Tigers and the Reds. The Reds will try to close it out at home and the Tigers must do so at Oakland. Here are Tuesday's picks:

  • The Reds over the Giants: The Giants have not been able to generate any offense as they had little to begin with and the Reds' pitching has been terrific. Homer Bailey closed out the season with a no-hitter, so you'd be able to say that he is hitting his stride in his career. The Giants try to stay alive behind Ryan Vogelsong, a pitcher who struggled down the stretch and who doesn't pitch as well on the road as he does at home. His road ERA is a full run higher than his home ERA. The Reds move on and the Giants go home.
  • The Tigers over the Athletics: The A's are up against the wall here and will have the benefit of their home fans. But the Tigers simply seem to be too much for the A's to handle. Anibal Sanchez is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and will use that big ballpark to his advantage. The A's meanwhile, turn to Brett Anderson, who, when healthy, is one heck of a pitcher. But is he healthy? Will he be rusty? How long can he pitch? Anderson is a long shot, but he can pull it off. This game is really a tough one to call.

Yesterday: 1-1
Post season: 4-6
Season: 1,337-1,073

Monday, October 08, 2012

It is time to embrace Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker has been a punching bag for manager-bashers for years. It started with his decade as the manager of the Giants where he coddled and cowed to Barry Bonds while ultimately failing in all three of his post seasons there. Then he was considered the guy who threw away the careers of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood during his run with the Cubs and helped create the misanthrope by the name of Carlos Zambrano. Baker has always run afoul of history and critics when it came to his managerial skills. The taunts crested since he took over the Cincinnati Reds. But perhaps it is time to reconsider all this negativity and take a fresher look at Dusty Baker as a manager.

His tenure with the Red started well enough. In his third season at the helm of that team and after steady improvement, the Reds won the National League Central Division and went to the post season for the first time since 1995. But all of that was negated when the Reds faced the Phillies in the first round of the playoffs in 2010 and Halladay pitched a no-hitter and the Reds were overwhelmed in the series three games to none.

And besides, it was Walt Jocketty who got the credit for building the team after coming to the front office via the Cardinals. And then the Reds could not get out of their own way in 2011. After winning the division, the team could not win back to back games that entire season to save themselves. Bronson Arroyo had a homer-prone season for the ages. The team was out of rhythm the entire season and Baker received his share of the blame.

An admission here is needed. This site run by this Fan has not been kind to Baker over the years either. Much energy here was bent on a mission to get the man fired earlier this season. And then a funny thing happened. Baker's team ran away with their division this season and finished tied for the best record in the National League. But surely the Reds would crumble again in the playoffs against those magical Giants and that pitching staff that won the World Series back in 2010. Oops. That didn't happen either.

So two straight Reds' mauling of the Giants this weekend coupled with that amazing season sort of left this naysayer sucking wind. Whose your daddy now, Fan?

Agreed. It is time to embrace Dusty Baker. It is time to give him his due as a manager his team rallies around and enjoys playing for. It is time to realize that he has managed winners in all three of his managerial stops. It is time to wonder if at least part of the anti-Baker meme is at least unconsciously racist. The guy has a .525 winning percentage as a manager. He was a Bartman foul popup and costly error of doing the unthinkable and getting the Cubs to the World Series.

But what about that pitcher-killer reputation? Well, here we are a decade removed from his years with the Cubs and there is still no consensus about the effect on innings on young pitchers. Some of the same writers who bashed Baker for killing Prior and Wood were this season crucifying the Nationals for shutting down Strasburg.

And Baker wasn't alone in that Cubs situation. He had a pitching coach there and medical people and advisers and a general manager. And in fairness, how the heck do we know how healthy those two pitchers would have been had they been coddled like Strasburg has been? We just don't know. We'll never know.

And Bonds was a force of nature. Would any other manager have been able to handle him any better in those years with the Giants? Bonds was bigger than the Giants at that time. When that happens and when an ego is as big as Bonds' was, what could any manager have done differently?

So yeah, we've been bashing Dusty Baker for years. He has never been given any credit for his managerial career. And perhaps it is time for that to end. He has won the Manager of the Year Award three times. He has won nearly 1,600 games as a manager in his 19 seasons doing the job. And that came after a very good nineteen year playing career. That is 38 years of quality service in Major League Baseball. That is quite awesome when you think about it.

It is time to embrace Dusty Baker as one of the treasures of this baseball era. This Fan will be the first one to admit he has done the man wrong. The Reds, despite their 2-0 advantage currently over the Giants, might not lead to a championship. But that does not even matter in the end. What matters is that Dusty Baker has been worthy of our respect and it is way past time he started receiving it.

Where do the Rockies go from here?

Big Leagues Monthly is a new and up-and-coming e-magazine with some of the best baseball writing you'll find in one place. And it is humbling to be among a group of so many talented peers that write for the magazine. The new issue was just released yesterday and included is an article about where the Colorado Rockies go from this point now that they have tanked to 98 losses this season. Jim Tracy just resigned, so that takes care of one of the recommendations made in the article, but the rest is very relevant. Anyway, please click the link above and read the article and if you love baseball, read the thing from cover to cover!

Game Picks - Monday: October 8, 2012

Yesterday was a glorious day of baseball as four playoff games happened and allowed us to watch baseball from noon to midnight. The only sad part was a rain delay in Baltimore that caused one of the games to be shifted to TNT. So the remote came in handy to go back and forth. It was a fun day of highly charged baseball.

The playoff picks did not improve here though. Two were correct. Two were incorrect. So the post season is still in the red in total. The Yankees won the improbable way by teeing off on Jim Johnson, who had been untouchable all season. Bronson Arroyo had great stuff and pitched one-hit ball for seven innings while Madison Bumgarner and company could not get it done against the Reds' offense. That pick was wrong. The bullpen that got the Cardinals so far last season gave them a loss last night as the Nationals, in their first playoff game ever, showed no signs of being overwhelmed. And the Tigers put the Athletics in a 2-0 hole in the series and in deep trouble with a walk-off win.

Two games are scheduled today. In a move that is only inspired by ratings and money and not by common sense, the Cardinals and Reds, an hour behind the east coast in time zones, get the early game and the Yankees - Orioles play at eight o'clock. That simply ensures that those two teams' fans have to stay up well past bedtimes in order to watch. Well done, baseball. Well done. Hope you choke on those network dollars.

Monday's Columbus Day playoff picks:

  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: Both Jordan Zimmermann and Jaime Garcia had rough outings earlier in the season against the team they are facing today. But Jaime Garcia is usually outstanding at home and should  allow his team to score a few runs off of Zimmerman. Garcia neutralizes Harper too.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: So the Orioles are down a game to the Yankees in the series. That is familiar territory to them. So they won't panic or anything. But let's say this: Even if he is forty years old, Andy Pettitte is the winningest pitcher in the history of post season baseball. Pettitte is also brilliant at limiting damage despite not having the best stuff around. The Orioles are forced to go with Wei-Yin Chen who has no playoff experience and seemed to wear down toward the end of the season. Chen is left-handed though which gives the Yankees a slightly less deadly lineup. Though Eduardo Nunez at DH is an immense upgrade over Andruw Jones.

Yesterday: 2-2
Post Season: 3-5
Season: 1336-1072

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Game Picks - Sunday: October 7, 2012

You have to give credit to Dusty Baker and the Reds for not panicking when Johnny Cueto came up lame. The way the situation was handled, and the way the pitching staff performed was a real credit to the Reds. The Giants, meanwhile, sure put themselves in a hole when their most reliable ace could not hold the Reds down in his own ballpark. For them, it won't get any easier from here. That game pick was wrong though.

Justin Verlander did what he is supposed to do as one of the best pitchers alive. And though he wasn't sharp early, he was late and the Tigers' 3-1 victory was a lot more lopsided than it sounds. As we shall see, the Athletics' task does not get easier from here.

There are four big games on today. This is as good as playoff baseball gets. The picks:

  • The Tigers over the Athletics: Talk about unfair. Due to the number of games on the schedule, the A's are basically playing this game at 9:07 A.M. on their West Coast biological clocks. Doug Fister is a proven big game pitcher and again, experience trumps a youngster, even if he is Tommy Milone.
  • The Cardinals over the Nationals: You know what? The Cardinals drive this picker crazy. How did they beat the Braves? Was it some kind of voodoo they performed on the fielders gloves of that team? How do they look so mediocre and continue their playoff magic? Adam Wainwright will have no business winning this game. But somehow, he will. Gio Gonzalez will do his best to make sure that doesn't happen. But the game is in St. Louis.
  • The Yankees over the Orioles: Yes, the Orioles have become a major pain in the Yankees' sides. Middle of the road batters become fearsome sluggers and retread pitchers become Cy Youngs. But if you just look on paper, C.C. Sabathia should beat Jason Hammel, the latter of which has been out of the rotation more often than he has been in it. The Yankees will need to score early to take the O's crowd out of play.
  • The Giants over the Reds: Bronson Arroyo should benefit from pitching in the big ballpark in San Francisco. That will take away some of his weakness of the home run ball. But this game completely depends on Madison Bumgarner pitching at home. When he is on, he is lights out and can shut down anyone. He will win the Cy Young Award some day. But will he be on tonight?

Yesterday: 1-1
Post Season: 1-3
Season: 1334-1070