Over 10 hours and 4 video games, the arc of Major League Baseball’s playoffs had been vastly altered Friday, when each Division Series in each leagues had been in motion. At least a tripleheader awaits on Monday, whereas the National League will take middle stage with two video games on Saturday, the AL on Sunday.
For now, solely the Houston Astros are aligned for a sweep within the AL, with the specter of a Game 5 sturdy within the different ALDS.
So what did we be taught from an extended day’s journey from Houston to Milwaukee to Tampa Bay after which San Francisco? Here’s 4 takeaways from Friday’s motion:
Less than Max effort
Lost within the haze of MLB’s chaotic remaining day of the season might need been its most essential growth: An elbow damage that may seemingly sideline Max Muncy all through the playoffs.
And after two video games with out their most disciplined hitter, there’s a good probability the Los Angeles Dodgers’ keep in these playoffs will probably be a short one.
Take nothing away from Logan Webb, whose postseason debut evoked recollections of San Francisco Giants legends Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, as he punched out 10 Dodgers over 7 ⅔ shutout innings within the Giants’ 4-0 victory.
Yet you mix Game 1 of this NLDS with the Dodgers’ impotent efficiency in squeaking out a 3-1 win over St. Louis in Wednesday’s wild-card sport, and it is attainable they’ve a Muncy Problem.
Webb was fabulous, strolling no one and giving up 5 hits, only one for further bases. It’s seemingly no one was hitting him on this chilly night time in China Basin.
Yet it was additionally most likely slightly too straightforward. Webb wanted simply 92 pitches to take down almost eight innings, the Dodgers hardly ever working even a three-ball rely. It’s a marked distinction to Webb’s final two begins in opposition to the Dodgers, throughout which he lasted 5 and 6 innings, respectively, the Giants successful these late-July video games 2-1 and 4-2.
Muncy began in each of them and within the July 21 sport noticed 18 pitches in 4 plate appearances in one in every of them; solely Chris Taylor noticed extra (19).
It was an analogous story in two latest video games in opposition to Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. The Dodgers dinged him for 4 runs in 8 1/3 innings of a 5-4 loss on Sept. 8. Wainwright threw 104 pitches and Muncy noticed almost 1 / 4 of them, absorbing a team-high 22 pitches and hitting a sixth-inning homer.
In the wild-card sport, with out Muncy? Wainwright went 5 ⅓ innings however solely gave up one run – Justin Turner’s solo homer, the Dodgers’ solely extra-base hit till Taylor’s walk-off in opposition to reliever Alex Reyes.
Muncy ranked sixth within the main leagues in StatCast’s total plate self-discipline metric, and his .973 OPS ranked third within the NL. He’s not all the time important to the Dodgers’ assault, however with Taylor flailing and Cody Bellinger a shell of his typical self, the Dodgers are a far simpler lineup to navigate as of late.
Taylor sat Game 1, however supervisor Dave Roberts help he’ll begin Game 2 in middle, with Bellinger transferring to first. Perhaps Kevin Gausman’s two-pitch repertoire will probably be extra to the Dodgers’ liking in Game 2. Or Julio Urias and Max Scherzer guarantee they aren’t climbing uphill from the leap in Games 2 and three, easing some stress on hitters.
But large image or small, the Dodgers are a punchless bunch. And proper now, the defending World Series champions are very a lot on the ropes.
Red Sox savior
Had it not been coined by an advert company to promote auto insurance coverage, “Life comes at you fast” would make a good mantra for October baseball.
Speaking of which, Tanner Houck, how do you’re feeling about being the No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox?
In a span of only a few innings, the Red Sox went from crushed to in control of their AL Division Series in opposition to the Tampa Bay Rays. Their Game 1 and a couple of starters, lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale, mixed to file eight outs, stressing their pitching workers and shoving them deep in what appeared like a 2-0 gap in a best-of-five collection.
Then, they handed the ball to Houck within the second inning of Game 2 and bought out of the best way.
Houck chewed up 5 innings and yielded simply two hits, enabling a record-setting offensive efficiency to show a three-run deficit right into a two-run benefit and, ultimately, a 14-6 Red Sox win that evened the collection.
How pivotal was Houck’s efficiency?
Well, the Red Sox went from going through an elimination sport in Game 3 to handing the ball to ace Nate Eovaldi at Fenway Park with an opportunity to push the Rays onto the brink of elimination.
Here’s a pair of not-so-bold predictions: This collection goes 5 video games, and Houck will begin Game 5 for Boston.
He’s actually earned that a lot by saving the Red Sox’s season not as soon as, however twice. In Game 161, Houck began three days after a 41-pitch aid efficiency, and spun 5 good innings in opposition to the Washington Nationals. So in two primarily must-win video games, that’s 10 innings pitched, two hits, 13 strikeouts and no walks.
Red Sox supervisor Alex Cora’s October aggressiveness paid big dividends in 2018, within the method through which he deployed his bullpen. He ignored Sale’s monitor file in shortly hooking him each in Game 162 and Game 2 of the ALDS.
This choice will probably be far simpler – Houck, primarily, has made it for him.
Churn and burned
Perhaps you’ve heard a factor or two concerning the Rays’ uncanny capability to pluck fringe gamers from baseball oblivion, sprinkle some analytics on them and watch the magic unfold. One hundred wins, miniscule payroll – similar because it ever was.
But each the upsides and perils of roster churn had been uncovered of their XX-X loss to the Boston Red Sox.
As the craziness of commerce deadline day wound down on July 30, the Rays made a characteristically quiet deal, buying light-hitting outfielder/first baseman Jordan Luplow from Cleveland.
In Game 2, Luplow blasted a grand slam off Sale within the backside of the primary inning, giving the Rays a 5-2 lead and what gave the impression to be whole command of their ALDS.
It was a 5-5 sport when Matt Wisler entered within the fifth with a runner on. Wisler was designated for project by the San Francisco Giants on June 9, and the Rays acquired him in commerce shortly thereafter regardless of a 6.05 ERA. It’s clear what intrigued the Rays – Wisler’s 12 strikeouts per 9 innings – and positive sufficient, he magically trimmed his ERA to 2.15 in 29 ⅓ innings with Tampa Bay.
Yet the playoffs are sometimes when pedigree catches as much as a participant. And within the blink of an eye fixed – a Xander Bogaerts single, a towering J.D. Martinez three-run house run – it was 8-5 Boston and the collection immediately took on a completely completely different tenor.
That’s the danger of rolling with rookie starters in Games 1 and a couple of – it would seemingly go away quite a lot of innings for relievers to soak up. And Shane Baz, making simply his fourth profession begin Friday, recorded simply seven outs. It resulted within the Rays’ uncommon failure of their depth
Big man clinic
So many implausible athletes on the Milwaukee Brewers, from former MVP Christian Yelich, season savior Willy Adames and Gold Glove outfielder Lorenzo Cain. None materially contributed to the Brewers’ 2-1 Game 1 conquest of the Atlanta Braves.
Nope, it was a scoreless sport till the underside of the seventh inning, when Avisail Garcia, all 250 kilos of him, absorbed a Charlie Morton pitch on his wrist to place a person on base. Rowdy Tellez, the 250-pound first baseman acquired from Toronto in July, adopted with a two-run homer to proper, offering the Brewers’ solely scoring.
Combine these guys with Dan Vogelbach, who drew a stroll an inning earlier and carries 270 kilos on his 6-foot body, and the lesson right here is clear: Big is gorgeous.
And it by no means hurts for a workforce to accumulate gamers that seem to exemplify their mascot.