Browsing posts from October, 2011
Here’s my voting for the Cubs’ 2011 Cy Young Award.
1. Sean Marshall: Set the Cubs’ single-season ‘Holds’ record with 34. Allowed just 19 earned runs in 75.2 IP, arguably the Cubs’ 2011 MVP as well.
2. Matt Garza: His 10 wins are a poor reflection of his overall performance, nearly reached 200 IP (198.0), and 200 strikeouts (197), made 31 starts with a 3.32 ERA. Should easily have 3 to 4 more wins.
3. Ryan Dempster: Led the Cubs in both starts (34) and Quality Starts (21), topped the 200-innings mark (202.1), and registered 191 strikeouts.
4. Jeff Samardzija: Made 75 appearances, all from the bullpen, posting a 2.97 ERA and 8.90 K/9, won 8 games vs. 4 losses, got stronger as the season wore on.
5. Kerry Wood: Posted a 10.06 K/9, had 21 Holds, 1.29 WHIP, and 3.35 ERA in 55 outings.
Here’s my voting for the BBA’s Walter Johnson Award, given to the best pitcher in each league.
1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD: Made 33 starts, 233.1 IP, 2.28 ERA and won 21 games for a Dodgers team that struggled to score runs. He led the NL in strikeouts with 248 and notched 2 shutouts.
2. Cliff Lee, PHIL: Allowed just 62 earned runs over 232.2 IP, struck out 238 batters and easily led all of baseball with 6 shutouts.
3. Roy Halladay, PHI: Virtually identical stats to Lee, but sported a better ERA 2.35, and led division winning Philly with 19 wins.
4. Ian Kennedy, ARZ: Quietly won 21 games with a 2.88 ERA to help lead Arizona to the West division title.
5. Craig Kimbrel, ATL: Set the rookie saves record with 46, issued only 18 earned runs in 77 IP, good for a 2.10 ERA, but ran out of gas in September.
1. Justin Verlander, DET: Won 24 of 34 starts, topped 250.0 IP (251.0), struck out 250 batters and completed 2 shutouts.
2. James Shields, TB: Led the AL with 4 shutouts, nearly reached 250.0 IP (249.1), struck out 225 batters over 33 starts for the Wild Card winning Rays.
3. Jared Weaver, LAA: 18 wins and a 2.41 ERA with well over 200.0 IP (235.2).
4. CC Sabathia, NYY: His 19 wins and 230 strikeouts only trails Verlander.
5. C.J. Wilson, TEX: Made 34 starts, struck out 206 batters and won 16 games for the West division champion Rangers.
Here’s my voting for the BBA’s Goose Gossage Award given to the top closer in each league.
1. Craig Kimbrel, Atl: Set rookie saves record (46) and held opponents to a .178 avg.
2. John Axford, Mil: Went 46/48 in save opportunities. Has a great closer’s stache to boot!
3. Joel Hanrahan, Pit: Four blown saves and allowed just one HR in 70 appearances. Best closer no one has heard of.
1. Jose Valverde, Det: Went 49/49 in save opportunities. You can’t top perfect.
2. Mariano Rivera, NYY: Allowed just 13 runs in 61.1 IP with a 0.90 WHIP.
3. Jonathan Papelbon, Bos: Blew three saves while striking out 87 in 64.1 IP.
The postseason is suppose to be reserved for power-arms. But Randy Wolf, a soft-tossing lefty, dominated St. Louis in Game 4 to keep Milwaukee’s World Series hopes alive.
Honestly, I didn’t think Wolf had seven innings of two-run baseball in him. Not after surrendering seven earned runs to Arizona in the NLDS, which came on the heels of 10 runs allowed in 11.2 innings of his final two starts of the regular season.
But despite allowing two early solo home runs, Wolf settled down to retire 13 of his final 15 batters while keeping St. Louis hitless with RISP–The Cards finished the game 0-for-8 in that category and remain 0-for-15 after the first inning of Game 3.
For Milwaukee this October, it’s finally a starting performance that’s postseason worthy.
Game 5 starter, Zach Greinke, has allowed 16 hits and 10 runs for a 8.18 ERA over two starts. Shaun Marcum: 14 hits, 12 runs, and a 12.46 ERA in two outings.
Yovani Gallardo has been the most steady hand, but unimpressive for a staff ace: 18 hits in 19 IP, 8 walks, and 2 HR in three outings.
Even with the NLCS now a best-of-three series, the Brewers staff better find another Wolf-like performance in them. Otherwise, Randy’s gem could be the lasting highlight for a brilliant Brewers season.
Get ready for a St. Louis-Texas World Series.
I’m speaking ‘unofficially,’ of course, but that’s where the LCS’s are headed.
Texas has the all too commanding 3-1 lead over Detroit. And even with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander in Game 5…at best they’ll need him to come back on three days rest for a potential Game 7 in Arlington.
The Rangers’ bullpen, more so than its potent lineup, has been the difference maker. The relief corps allowed just a single run through 15 innings of the first three games–and one run in Game 4. Simply, Lights. Out.
Meanwhile, back in St. Louis…the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter withstood Milwaukee’s best chance to gain the series winning Game 3, 4-3.
For all intents and purposes, Yovani Gallardo lost the game, and perhaps the series, in the first inning allowing the first five Cardinals to reach base. Four of those runners scored–and that was that.
Cards win game. Cards take 2-1 series lead.
In fact, the Cardinals bullpen retired the last 12 Milwaukee hitters in a row and allowed just a single base runner from the fifth inning on. Sound familiar, Detroit fans?
Now St. Louis feasts on Randy Wolf in Game 4, coming off a 7 ER performance in his NLDS start vs. Arizona. And for dessert, a tasty treat of Zach Greinke and his 9.00 postseason ERA in Game 5.
The Brewers have lost eight consecutive postseason games on the road. They don’t beat the Cardinals in Milwaukee, and now they have to take 3 of 4 to win the series.
Not impossible, but not likely either.
St. Louis vs. Texas. Who knew?
There’s no better proof Cubs ownership is trying to win than Tom Ricketts’ aggressive attempt to land Theo Epstein as his new GM. And for that, I give the Cubs mad props.
Ricketts has plenty of leverage to pry Epstein away from his hometown of Boston: An exciting change of scenery, more executive power, and the colossal challenge of bringing a World Series title to Wrigleyville–the perfect bait to hook one of the game’s brightest and most successful GMs.
But this is no small mess on the North Side, mind you. Not with the Cubs in a state of flux, meandering around the bottom of the standing with a mixed-bag of back-loaded contracts, young budding stars and washed-up veterans.
It’s a job fit for a pro, a mastermind like Theo who’s accustomed to working under the pressures of a large market club hungry to win.
That’s why offering equal, if not higher, compensation for Epstein is well worth the cost of doing business for Chicago–at least in the long haul.
Any fan paying attention knows a championship caliber club starts at the top with ownership, then the GM, next are talented players and lastly, the right fit at manager.
Ricketts, Epstein, Sandberg…sounds like winning baseball to me, despite the early costs.
The Milwaukee Brewers are in big-time trouble.
Despite the major’s best home record during the regular season (57 wins), Milwaukee hasn’t figured out how to beat St. Louis at Miller Park, especially when it counts.
The Cards’ dominating 12-3 win in Game 2 is crucial not only because it ties the series 1-1, but because it swings the momentum heavily in St. Louis’ favor with the series shifting to Busch Stadium for the next three games.
Winning road games has been the Brewers’ Achilles heel all year (39-42), as was evident during its two losses at Arizona during the NLDS.
To make matters worse, Chris Carpenter, fresh off a complete game shutout against the Phils and publicly disrespected by Zach Greinke, goes in Game 3 against the Brewers top-gun Yovani Gallardo, who appears the Brewers last hope to send the series back to Milwaukee.
Although a single victory for the Brewers in St. Louis returns the series back to Miller Park, you can forget any notion of a home-field advantage for the Beer Makers.
The Cardinals have won 7 of its last 9 meetings against the Brewers in Milwaukee, including a tense 3-game sweep during the first week of September that propelled St. Louis to its historic 10.5 game comeback against the Braves to win the Wild Card.
So it seems unlikely Milwaukee would win consecutive games at home against St. Louis, especially under the pressure of a Game 6 & 7.
In all likelihood, advancing the to the World Series for Milwaukee means winning its upcoming road trip. How’s that for home-field advantage.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
1.) Kirk Gibson, Arizona
No way Arizona wins the West without Gibson at the helm. Having inherited a 65-win team that used 48 different players in 2010, Gibby led a charge to unseat the defending world champs and advance to the postseason as a division winner. What more can be said?
Now the only question is how much longer Arizona will wait to extend his contract with one season remaining on it?
2.) Tony LaRussa, St. Louis
No Adam Wainright. No closer. Pujols missed considerable time. An epic late season comeback from 10-games back of the Wild Card leading Braves. Typical LaRussa–always finding a way, even when battling shingles.
3.) Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia
The Phillies, unquestionably, had the best rotation in baseball–on paper. But they still had to prove it on the field, and did so with little to no offense and World Series expectations to boot.
Manuel pulled all the right strings leading the Phils to the major’s best record (102-60).
NLDS loss aside, Manuel’s bunch couldn’t have been much better during the regular season.
*) Honorable Mentions: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee–Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta–Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Here’s a quick thumbnail sketch of Friday’s decisive Game 5 between Arizona-Milwaukee. Fist pitch is scheduled for 4:07 CT on TBS.
Simply said, we’re looking at a rematch of Game 1, a 4-1 win for Milwaukee, between starters Yovani Gallardo & Ian Kennedy.
Gallardo is is 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA in six career starts against Arizona.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is a 21-game winner that was cruising through Game 1 until allowing a two-run homer in the seventh to Prince Fielder, who by the way, may be playing his last game in a Brewers uniform.
Ryan Braun, Fielder and Rickie Weeks are coming off a woeful 3-for-23 road trip in Arizona. The three, however, combined to go 10-for-22 in Games 1 & 2 at Miller Park.
The D-Backs are riding high offensively having plated 18 runs over the past two games, both victories in Arizona.
They also became just the second team ever to hit grand slams in consecutive postseason games, joining the 1977 Dodgers.
The Snakes are also looking to become just the eighth team to recover from an 0-2 series deficit in a best-of-five series, which isn’t out of the question considering they managed a major league best 48 come-from-behind wins during the regular season.
But Milwaukee isn’t likely to go down without a fight, where they too, set a major league mark in 2011 reaching 57 home victories.