It's a series that will feature superb pitching staffs, and one team will come away with a long-awaited title.
In baseball as in literature, archetypes tend to be formulaic, proof that fiction falls short of reality when it comes to the power to describe any one thing in shorthand. The need, indeed one of the great benefits of the human mind is to identify patterns, and to peg things that fall within those patterns, or to re-evaluate the pattern as a whole to create some new rubric, some new way of explaining things. Take our current post-season slate: instead of a much-anticipated rematch between the Evil Empire and the Phillies' a-bornin' senior-circuit dynasty, last week we got the pleasure of witnessing imperial ambitions utterly overthrown in both leagues.
A look at the men on the hill as the Giants try again to wrap up the pennant and Phillies attempt to stave off elimination.
Phillies vs. Giants Jonathan Sanchez: 3.07 ERA, 3.70 SIERA Sanchez’s modus operandi has been that he strikes many batters out, but walks many as well. When facing with the Braves in Game Three of the NLDS, Sanchez only followed the first part of that plan—he walked just one hitter while striking out 11 of the 25 batters he faced. However, Sanchez fell victim to walks as well in his NLCS Game Two start against the Phillies, letting three walks push a run across in the first inning. However, he also struck out three in the first and four more before rebounding to complete seven innings. This was not enough for the Giants, who surrendered the series lead to the Phillies. For Game Six, the series lead is at stake again as the Giants lead 3-2. Sanchez was handled reasonably well by the Phillies’ left-handers in Game Two, but he is a good bet to dominate them Saturday given his career trends against lefties. The key will be preventing the Phillies right-handers from reaching base. If Sanchez is wild again, he could put the Giants in a big hole in their attempt to clinch the pennant. If he controls the strike zone and strikes hitters out like he can, he will be a formidable opponent to the Phillies as they face elimination again.
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A look at the three post-seasons game on top today, two of which are elimination games.
Well, that didn’t take long, as the Yankees have already moved on from the American League Division Series to the American League Championship Series while the Twins are once again sent home. I don’t necessarily buy into the whole psychological factor that the media seems to think is a tremendous storyline. The Twins are a great team, but the Yankees are greater. I highly doubt a great team like the Twins subconsciously sabotages itself throughout a game and that’s why the other team comes away victorious. It’s tough to beat a team so deep that Lance Berkman isn’t even a regular, regardless of whether or not players on the opposing team have some deep-rooted notion that they are the lesser team entering the matchup. The Yankees will rest up, avoiding the need to use CC Sabathia on short rest, and awaiting the outcome of our first series today.
Two teams that took interesting rides to the postseason meet in the first round.
Those of you who root for chaos and the eventual heat death of the universe were no doubt disappointed that the season did not end with a series of one-game playoffs. To the Braves and the Giants, however, the outcomes of Sunday’s games were more than welcome. Their starters will receive an additional day of rest each, and they won’t entirely foreclose the possibility of pitching their Game One starters on short rest in Game Four. The condensed schedule of this series (potentially five games in seven days, rather than the eight allotted to the other NLDS) means Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy will have tough decisions to make should the series go to four or five games.
Drafting the young arm with the best pure stuff in the 2006 draft was a good start. Add an intriguing sign out of the Dominican Republic, and the Giants have the makings of a farm system.
1. Tim Lincecum, rhp Very Good Prospects
2. Angel Villalona, 3b
3. Jonathan Sanchez, lhp Good Prospects
4. Emmanuel Burriss, ss Average Prospects
5. Eddy Martinez-Estevee, lf
6. Sharlon Schoop, ss
7. Fred Lewis, lf/cf
8. Nate Schierholtz, lf
9. Billy Sadler, rhp
10. Mike McBryde, cf
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
B.J. Surhoff and Deivi Cruz have compormising pictures of Orioles management. Darren Dreifort's latest injury has the Dodgers pondering his future yet again. The Brewers may have grasped the concept of sunk costs. The Phillies' bullpen is a mess. News, notes, and Kahrlisms from 25 major league teams in the latest edition of Transaction Analysis.