Yankees hang tough thanks in part to surprising stars, bullpen
October 10, 2017 3:08 AM
by Ramon Scott
It should come as no surprise that playoff teams have been heading to the bullpen early in the game with more and more frequency.
We already know the offenses have an almost unprecedented built-in advantage heading into this year’s postseason with teams producing runs at an enormous rate.
This makes even elite pitchers vulnerable. Having dealt through the trials of a diluted regular season, now staffs are faced with going up against the majors’ best lineups night-after-night.
And when those oh-so-close stars that have done an unheralded job of helping guide their team to October get their time to shine, forget about it. The Yankees’ Luis Severino wasn’t ready and the Twins’ Ervin Santana was once again past his prime.
The Boston Red Sox gave a bit of a blueprint on Sunday, as enigmatic lefty David Price was the mound star with his four shutout innings after the Astros blew a 3-0 first-inning lead holding a 2-0 edge Sunday afternoon.
This was only out of desperation after Chris Sale was tattered around, then Drew Pomeranz proved he was no No. 2. Doug Fister was then re-exposed in Sunday’s Game 3 start.
Meanwhile, the Astros staff looked lost with all kinds of ’tweener guys who have gone from a starting role to the bullpen this season but seemingly can’t find the recipe all of a sudden.
It hasn’t been all overwhelming, as there have been some pleasant surprises from some starters, as well, including Masahiro Tanaka of the Yanks, Jon Lester of the Cubs, and Trevor Bauer of the Indians.
Meanwhile, the decision for John Farrell may or may not lead to his future in Boston.
The Red Sox seemed to be ready to go into Game 4 with 17-game loser Rick Porcello instead of Sale on three days rest and a ball of fury after his disaster in Game 1.
It really could spell bad should the Red Sox have turned to Sale in the early innings on Monday if Porcello was knocked around like a bunch of these “other” guys instead of trying to somehow find that Cy Young formula for one game.
Only the Dodgers had everything under control following the weekend, holding serve at home despite some pitching woes, including Clayton Kershaw allowing four home runs with a lead.
Los Angeles was actually a slight favorite in Monday’s Game 3 with Yu Darvish on the road against Arizona’s Zack Greinke, and that was mostly thanks to the Dodger bats, which roughed up the D’backs for 17 runs in the first two games.
Washington Nationals (EV) at Chicago Cubs (Tue., 2:38, TBS): Game four is set with Monday’s winner now having a 2-1 lead. Jake Arrieta goes here for Chicago, his first start since Sept. 26, and surprisingly he is down almost five units for the regular season. He threw in a couple of clunkers following his hamstring injury that he sufferd in September, as he was so terrific and consistent during the key summer drive in the second half before the setback. Tanner Roark is tentatively the Nats’ starter, as Max Scherzer was back on track to make last night’s start, so factor in the bullpen use for Washington should Scherzer encounter any difficulty.
New York Yankees (+160, 7.5u15) at Cleveland Indians (Wed., 5:08, FS1): A likely Game 5 expected as Yanks were a considerable favorite at home on Monday night. If necessary, Sonny Gray certainly to start here against the Indians’ Corey Kluber. Cleveland has prepared for this scenario, getting their ace either here or in the ALCS opener. Kluber had fared well against the Yankees hitters in the past, holding this playoff roster to just over a .150 avg. over 150 ABs, but New York has to be brimming with confidence after they roughed him up in Game 1. Meanwhile, Gray has held over nicely against several Indians, including Jose Ramirez, Frankie Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, who are a combined 9-for-62 against him.
Chicago Cubs (+200, 7o15) at Washington Nationals (Thu., 2:38, TBS): Oddsmakers expect this matchup, although Tuesday’s game was closely rated. Nats would have unbelievable Stephen Strasburg ready to go again after his dynamite effort in the 3-0 loss in Game 1, tossing five innings of no-hit ball with no run support in a matchup in which Washington was heavily favored. Anthony Rizzo doesn’t have a real good outlook in his matchup with “Stras” following the last outing, although Kris Bryant seems to have a little better look. Kyle Hendricks would go for Chicago and he’s had pretty good success against the Nats, limiting the playoff roster to under .200 in around 75 ABs, but Bryce Harper’s had some good looks at him.