With my time being incredibly limited due to mounds of homework and after school stuff, I just couldn’t find time to write on the two ALDS series. I put my picks on Twitter yesterday afternoon (Indians in 5, Astros in 4) just before the first pitches were thrown. It’s been a grind. I’m trying my best.
However, things are gonna get easier, and I somehow found time to hammer this out. It’s a special occasion. We’ll start there.
NLDS #1: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Once we get five games to make a decision, the decisions become easier, and somehow less right.
I said in the Wild Card previews: You need pitching and bench dudes. You need a true ace, 2-3 quality starters (and one who can come out of the bullpen), and a deep, talented group of relievers.
The postseason is all about trust and experience. Is your starter capable of not giving up 3+ runs an inning? Has he ever pitched in October before?
Guys, this isn’t hard. Even though all of our picks are never right, the World Series champion always makes the games shorter with a great bullpen and has starters that can get the job done.
The Diamondbacks and Dodgers have some trust issues.
Clayton Kershaw might be one of the five best pitchers ever, and yet has never been a trustworthy playoff pitcher. Alex Wood is having a flukey/too good year, and has been bad in one postseason experience. Rich Hill is 37.
There’s a serious case that Yu Darvish is the most trustworthy pitcher on this team. He’s been great since being traded to LA. The postseason is why you get a guy like him. The Dodgers probably understood that their rotation isn’t exactly the surest thing in the world when acquiring him.
But LA has a ridiculous bullpen to turn to too. Kenley Jansen is one of the best relievers in the postseason. The trades for Tony Watson and Tony Cigrani have paid off well, with ERAs of 2.70 and 2.79 since joining the team. Brandon Morrow’s been close to unhittable.
That makes their situation better than Arizona’s, who’s full of unproven, inexperienced, and less talented pitchers. Zach Greinke is the man, but he wasn’t exactly inspiring in the NL Wild Card Game. Do I really trust Zach Godley, who’s having his first good year and has no experience? Robbie Ray? Are you kidding me?
Arizona’s bullpen isn’t anything special. Fernando Rodney and Jorge De La Rosa are gonna be pitching big innings this series. How do you think that makes me feel? We’ve got Archie Bradley’s beard and bat though.
Offenses don’t usually decide much, but these are two clutch offenses that can get hits in big spots. I’d actually take Arizona’s lineup; I think guys like David Peralta, AJ Pollack and Paul Goldschmidt are scarier postseason hitters than Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger. Justin Turner and Jake Lamb are similar, but Arizona doesn’t have a Corey Seager.
Series’ always come down to pitching, and the Dodgers have the much better bullpen and have more talent in their rotation. It was a good run guys.
Prediction: Dodgers in 4
NLDS #2: Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
Lets do the same experiment for the Cubs and Nationals as we did above.
I’ve told friends and sports people that I thought the Nationals should be the NL favorite. They had the best pitching staff in the NL, and nobody was talking about them (A lot of that can be blamed on Bryce Harper’s injury).
As you look through their NLDS roster, what pitcher don’t you trust? Max Scherzer, Stephen Strausburg and Gio Gonzalez are locks. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have been on multiple playoff teams. Brandon Kintzler is sneakily-elite. Enny Romero is a name you’ve probably never heard, but he’s been much better than traditional stats suggest.
I loved what Washington did at the trade deadline. They made basic but necessary moves, and now they’ve put together one of the best bullpens in the postseason. Oh, and they have the starters who you can trust. Other teams built super bullpens to make the games five innings. Washington can make the game zero innings with this staff.
That’s not to discredit the Cubs staff. It’s still an impressive one. I heavily criticized the Jose Quintana trade, but it looks pretty good now as he’s essentially the 3rd starter (That is, that I’d trust). Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks have no concerns of mine, except that Arrieta has to be 100% healthy. John Lackey and Lester don’t thrill me as options, but could be effective out of an already loaded bullpen.
With Wade Davis and Mike Montgomery , the Cubs have two elite relievers with a bunch of set-up men. I think Justin Wilson finds himself again; talent thrives in the playoffs. Carl Edwards Jr. is a viable option, and even Brian Duensing has been alright this year! The odds of that backfiring though are very high.
It’s not that the Cubs are bad, or are that they’re far-below Washington. This series is one big you-know-what wagging contest, and Washington is just a little bit more equipped in this matchup. They have less guys hold-your-breathe guys and more “Oh snap” hitters. Chicago’s been really good at not getting hits when it matters this season. That’s the last trait you want against these pitchers.
Chicago wins the games Arrieta and Hendricks pitch, but can’t muster up enough hitting to get by.
Prediction: Nationals in 5
Why I picked the Astros in 4…
They have, as we’ve seen so far, probably the scariest lineup, as every dude can smack one or get a bases clearing double. They have Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, who were awesome in their starts. Boston had one starter I trusted, and he already blew up (Chris Sale). Drew Pomeranz’s implosion in the first inning today was entirely predictable, and now a Doug Fister start is coming in Game 3. The bullpen looked better on paper, but against hitters like this, it’s nearly impossible to get outs. At this point, does Boston get swept?
Why I picked the Indians in 5…
They have Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco as their 1-2 punch, and if Trevor Bauer’s pitching like he did last night, that’s an unhittable rotation. They have Andrew Miller, who dumbfounds guys and is one of the best pitcher’s I’ve ever seen. They can also rough up a half-baked Yankees rotation.
I still think New York is in the series. I didn’t like the way the bullpen was deployed last night, and that wasn’t Gray’s best performance. Also, I’d be surprised if Bauer has that good of an outing again. Most of last night can be attributed to bad luck, but Kluber and Carrasco will still overpower a boom-or-bust Yankees offense.