Sparse thoughts on the ALCS and NLCS so far (as Game 2 of the NLCS proceeds):
- The Yankees without Jeter are clearly a different team. Umpiring aside, the offensive performance of the Yankees in Game 2 was atrocious, and they won’t be going to the World Series unless they can start getting some big production FAST. Like I wrote a few days ago, Detroit is in the driver’s seat in a big way with Verlander starting Game 3 and a 2-0 lead already in their pocket.
- Anibal Sanchez’s A+ performance on the hill overshadowed a fairly terrific performance from Hiroki Kuroda (call it an A-, maybe an A when factoring in the umpires). Kuroda struck out 11 Tigers, which is doubly impressive when you consider that the Tigers finished with the seventh-lowest K% during the regular season (18.0%). Factor in that Kuroda has a career K/9 of 6.76, and he did everything he could for the Bronx Bombers.
- Coming back to the Yankees on offense: REALLY?! FOUR HITS? THAT’S ALL YOU COULD MUSTER? Didn’t they LEAD THE MAJORS IN OPS? Sorry for the all-caps yelling, but… wow. One factor could be that New York had the third-worst “Speed Score” in the majors this season; they aren’t legging out the infield hits, and when they had just one extra-base hit in the game, that necessitates getting every break possible.
- Joe Girardi did something that drove me (and likely all my Yankee fan friends) absolutely crazy: he went completely situational for four straight pitchers. Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Clay Rapada pitched to just one batter each, with Cody Eppley pitching 1.1 innings to finish the evening for New York. Not only does it ruin the pace of the game, but it was completely ineffective, with all three pitchers allowing their foes to reach base.
- Madison Bumgarner needed to do better for the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS. Granted, his teammates did NOTHING against the Cardinals bullpen, but MadBum is far too good a pitcher to get lit up the way he did. If the Giants can get it to 2-2 or 3-1 heading to Game 5, Bumgarner will have an excellent chance at redemption.
- Tim Lincecum, on the other hand, did a great job in his two innings. While he threw only 50% strikes, he walked only one and didn’t allow a hit. The Freak will start Game 4, and has a chance to really turn the series.
- Speaking of San Francisco relief, how ’bout that Giants bullpen? In 5.1 innings, they allowed no hits and one walk (Lincecum’s) to a potent St. Louis lineup. If the offense can score enough runs to provide a lead — always a dicey proposition — these relievers have a great chance to make it stand up. Jose Valverde is not here.
- Is Carlos Beltran going to be a Hall of Fame candidate? His top Baseball Reference similarity scores for his age are Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield, both Cooperstown honorees, and others in his top ten include Dwight Evans, Bernie Williams, Bobby Bonds and Scott Rolen. Solid company.