ALDS: Boston VS Houston Preview 


Thursday night it starts: the Red Sox are back in the postseason and look to do what they couldn’t last year, win a series and a world title. 

This Red Sox team is a much different looking team than the one that got swept by the Indians last October. 

Last year, the Sox relied on David Ortiz to carry the offense and when he went cold, the team was doomed. This year, while not nearly as prolific, the Red Sox are a more balanced offense that is much more of a small ball lineup ranking 27th in the MLB in team homeruns. 

They’ll look to build off the experience of last years humbling sweep at the hands of the Indians in their ALDS series against the Astros. 

Many are saying the Red Sox are underdogs in the series, but when you take a closer look at it this series, it’s a flip of the coin. While the Astros have the better offense, headlined by Altuve who is a ridiculous hitter, I’ll take Sale and Pomeranz over Verlander and Keuchel, and the Red Sox bullpen has been on fire in the closing weeks. 

Sale, like he has most of this season, will be the key to the series. Making his first postseason appearance in game one, he is slated to go against Verlander who is no stranger to the big stage. 

Sale led the MLB with 308 strikeouts, but the Astros are a team that hits power pitching quite well. So Sale will have to keep them off balanced by mixing his speed on his fastball which will be key along with keeping his slider tight on the corners. 

While Verlander is no scrub, when Sale is on he is the more dominant pitcher. Losing game one will be a critical blow to the Sox, so Sale has to step up and carry the Sox on Thursday. 

Another key to watch throughout the series is the teams bullpens. The Astros bullpen has been shaky at times, and the Red Sox are no stranger to late game comebacks as they’ve proven time and time again this year. 

On the other side the Red Sox bullpen has been one of, if not, the best in the MLB in the last few weeks. The recent emergence of David Price has got to have you feeling good if your a Sox fan. He looked filthy against Houston, like really filthy. That’s a really important development because Price could be the Sox answer in game three. 

On the offensive side the Sox have a lot of questions as they don’t have any proven postseason hitters. That could be their downfall, but that doesn’t mean they can’t emerge this series. Betts, Bogarts, and Benintendi have to be at their best if they hope to keep pace with the high powered Houston offense. 

Not just offensively, but they also have to be great in the field because they can’t be giving up runs to a team that will certainly do enough to score on their own. 

Overall the Red Sox are underdogs in the series and should be. But don’t count them out just yet, because this is exactly the type of team that will surprise you. 

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Here We Go Again: Red Sox Edition


It’s funny how it works sometimes. After an 8-1 roadtrip everyone including myself was ready to get the duck boats. Now after getting run out of Fenway last night by the Astros, and both Sale and Pomeranz looking like garbage in their last outings, we could be witnessing the setup for another sweep.

The Red Sox offense has been good this year, not great but good enough. They currently rank 6th in the A.L in runs scored, but the offense has been inconsistent at best. While it’s been better than some people have given them credit for, they haven’t been world beaters.

Everyone was aware that if this team was going to win it was going to be because of their pitching. For the majority of the year, that has been the case. The Red Sox have a 3.73 ERA as a team which ranks 4th in the majors, and second in the A.L only behind Cleveland. But the pitching has gone south as of late. 

Pomeranz looked like a shell of himself in his last start throwing 89 mph fastballs, and lasting only two innings despite being the teams most consistent starter this year. Quickly on Pomeranz: I mentioned the velocity for a reason Pomeranz has thrown 167.2 innings this year, the second highest of his career and could very easily set a new career high. So to see him fade down the strech is a major red flag. His arm isn’t use to this workload and that could be the reason for the lack of velocity on his fastball and the break on his curveball.

Sale has the same issue as Pomeranz, the innings might be catching up to him. He has been a workhorse for the Red Sox this year especially early on, and maybe the Red Sox let him carry them too much. Sale hasn’t had two good outings in a row since August 8th and August 13th against Tampa and New York. For a guy who has a history of fading in August and September, that should have you scared to death.

But the person who deserves the most blame for Sale is Farrell. Too many times this year he has left Sale in the game for no reason. The latest example was when he sent him back out in the 8th in a game they were winning 9-0, just to get his 300th strikeout when he was slated to make two more starts. Real good way to keep your most important player fresh.

All this along with the fact that the Red Sox don’t have a Game 3 starter has to make you nervous heading into October.
Although he’s been dog crap of late, posting an ERA of 11.12 in his last three starts, Fister should still be the guy. That’s more of a reflection on how dreadful Porcello has been in his last five starts. The reigning CY Young winner has posted an ERA of 5.93, that’s definitely not what you want to see from a guy trying to make the playoff rotation.

So while Fister has not been great, he is the most experienced. Farrell is just going to have to be prepared to manage it, and not wait until it’s too late if he struggles in the third inning.

For those who disagree with starting Fister: stop and think, would you rather Fister who may give you 4 good innings, or Porcello who is guranteed to serve up at least one moonshot per start? Give me a chance of not being down 3-0 before I even settle in.

Things aren’t looking up for the Red Sox but it’s a clean slate in October. But it certainly feels like last season all over again.

Is Chris Sale’s Season Equivalent to Pedros 1999 Season?


Chris Sale reached a milestone on Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles that hasn’t been done since the great Pedro Matinez in 1999. He secured his 300th strikeout against Ryan Flaherty in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, on a practically unhittable slider that just caught the inside corner.

All season long many reporters, and fans have been comparing Sale’s season to Pedro Martinez’s record breaking season in 1999.  Well for anyone who has made that comparision or even thinks that the two are even in the same atmosphere, you need to get your eyes checked. 

What Pedro did in 1999 was the greatest single season pitching perfomance in MLB history, and while l didn’t witness it live, I’ve seen almost every single one of his starts on tape, and let me tell you something: Sale looks pedestrian incomparison.

Now don’t get me wrong Sale has been excellent this season, and without him who knows were the Red Sox would be. But he has had his struggles against quality opponents and has been inconsistent at times. Let’s break down the two seasons side by side for anyone who has their doubts.

For starters Pedro Martinzez pitched in the height of the steroid era, were your no-name second basemen was hitting 30-35 homers. Yet Pedro still had a 2.07 ERA and a record of 23-4. When Pedro was on the mound that year you knew he was going to dominate every single game. 

While there is  definitely some steroids in the modern day game and juiced balls, its nothing close to what was going on in 1999. Sale has a 2.75 ERA and a 17-7 record which is nothing to sneeze at but considering the circumstances, Pedro blows him out of the water.

The 300 strikeouts is the biggest sticking point in the argument however. Baseball is having a record setting year for homeruns and strikeouts.  Currently there are twelve pitchers with 200 plus strikeouts, and five pitchers with 190+ strikeouts, so there is a potential to have seventeen 200 strikeout pitchers this year. In 1999 Martinez led the A.L. with 300 strikeouts, the next closest pitcher was Chuck Finley with 200.

So that kind of dampens the value of the 300 for Sale. But I digress, to further my point in 1999 Pedro was the most dominant pitcher in the game and it wasn’t even close. Martinez led the league in WAR that year with a ridiculous 9.7, Chris Sale has a 6.1 WAR which isn’t even the best among pitchers.

Now that we have covered all of the stats that dismiss this argument, let’s go a little more conventional. Let’s use the eyeball test. 

Sale has looked hittable this year and while he is a freak he doesn’t have what Martinez had in 1999. Now that’s not a slight on Sale rather it should tell you how damn filthy Martinez was that year. Martinez was the closest thing you’ll ever witness to an unhittable pitcher. He wasn’t a thrower like some players, rather he was a pitcher. The surgical approach he took every single game just picking apart each batter, making them look like bat boys was absolutely marvelous to witness.

Comparing anyone to Martinez in 1999 is unfair, so while Sale has been excellent this year, he isn’t on the same level that Pedro was.

Dombrowski is sitting pretty with recent emergence of Doug Fister

Image via the Boston Herald

On July 28 David Price was placed on the disabled list, after making his last start on July 22. That very day that Dombrowski and the Red Sox announced that they were putting Price on the DL, they held a press conference only three days out from the MLB trade deadline. 

With all sorts of big name pitchers on the market, many expected the Red Sox to be in contention for one with Price being shelved. Instead Dombrowski announced that Doug Fister would be taking Price’s spot in the rotation, and that they “felt comfortable” with the move.
Doug Fister had pitched only 25.1 innings with the Sox, holding a 6.04 ERA, and a 1.82 WHIP. Hitters were also batting just under .300 against Fister. If that brings Dombrowski comfort then hell, might as well throw the pitching coach out every fifth day.

Now looking back, everyone (including myself), who mocked Dombrowski for his absurd comment couldn’t have been more off. Fister took the mound on July 31st and was absolutely filthy, going 7.2 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 earned runs against the Cleveland Indians, who are the best team in the A.L.

Fister hasn’t looked back since taking Price’s spot in the rotation. He has a 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and opposing hitters are batting under .200 against him. His 2.79 ERA over his past seven starts is the sixth best ERA over that time, and only Corey Kluber has averaged more innings pitched per start than Fister during this run.

Does Dombrowski deserve credit for the run that Fister is on? Well yes, and no.

While Dombrowski does deserve credit for bringing Fister onto the team in the first place, it’s a pure stroke of luck that he has pitched the way he has. Fister has all of the sudden inserted himself into the Red Sox playoff rotation, and honestly I have more faith in him right now to win a big game than anyone else in this rotation.

Fister has had success at the Major League level in the past, (most notable 2014 with the Nationals) so it’s not that hard to believe that a veteran could catch fire once again. 

Amidst all the scandal surrounding the Red Sox about stealing signs, maybe the team is using Fister and Applegate as a way to motivate themselves.

Either way seeing Doug Fister pitch has all the sudden become must watch TV. Especially considering he has been able to beat teams that Chris Sale hasn’t. 

With 19 games to go and a 3.5 lead over the Yankees, the Red Sox are going to need every good outing they can get from Fister and he looks ready to delver in a big way.

City in the Spotlight: A look around Boston Sports


It was an up and down month of August for Boston Sports fans. From talks of the Patriots going 19-0, the Red Sox winning the World Series, the Kyrie Irving drama, and the Bruins shopping their most talented young player, Boston has certainly been in the spotlight.

So let’s look back at the month of August and the state of all four beloved Boston Sports teams.

Boston Bruins

The biggest story surrounding the Bruins right now is the David Pastranak contract extension.

After years of being scrutinized for being unable to develop young talent, or keep their good young talent, the Bruins have been trying to change the narrative. But once again they find themselves at risk of losing another talented young player.

David Pastranak is still a restricted free agent with less than three weeks to go before the Bruins first pre-season game. Negotiations have not gone as planned for either side and talks seem to be at a standstill.

The Bruins offered Pastranak a six year, $36 million dollar extension earlier this summer followed up more recently by a seven year, $42 million dollar deal. Pastranak’s camp declined both and were “not impressed by either offer” (via CSNNE.com).

The Bruins seem to be sticking to an AAV of $6 million, while Pastranak’s camp is looking at the deal Edmonton gave to Leon Draisaitl (8 years with an AAV of 8.5 million dollars) as a base. Although their numbers are very similar, Leon Draisaitl plays center which is much more valuable. He was also the number three pick while Pastranak was the 25th pick in the 2014 draft., so Draisaitl should have a higher ceiling in the long term.

The Bruins are really in a lose-lose situation, they either meet Pastranak’s demands and overpay him, (because let’s be real he’s not a $8 million dollar player) and put themselves in cap trouble, or trade him away and continue to sprinkle the young talent across the league.

Best case scenario is the Bruins get Pastranak to sign a two year bridge deal to prove he’s worth eight million plus a year. But that’s highly unlikely.

The Bruins are going be forced to make a decision either to pay him or not as the start of the new season is slowly creeping up.

Boston Celtics

It’s finally official: Kyrie Irving is a Boston Celtic. After questions arose about the seriousness of Isaiah Thomas’s injury, the Cavs were seeking further compensation from the Celtics. At one point it was reported they wanted either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum.

This report quickly led to a serious question…

How hurt is Isaiah Thomas and is he going to miss significant time this season?

The Celtics were rightfully frustrated with the Cav’s delay of the trade. After all, the entire reason the Celtics were willing to cough up the 2018 Nets pick is because of the fact that Thomas had a bad hip. If Thomas is fully healthy the discrepancy between him and Irving isn’t that great albeit it is a gap. So trying to swindle more out of the Celtics was a bad look on the part of Cleveland. Not because they tried to get more from the Celtics, but rather the way they approached it through leaked reports in the media.

The final package for Irving ended up being, Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected pick in the 2018 draft along with a 2020 second round pick.

It does say a lot that the Cavs were only able to get a second round pick out of Boston. It highlights that Boston had far and away the best package out there and they were to deep into it to reverse the trade at that point.

Saying either team won the trade is purely speculation at this point because the 2018 Nets pick could turn into a trans-formative player. But here and now the team who gets the best player in a trade wins the deal, and Irving is clearly the best player in this deal. Although Boston did overpay for him, (it’s kind of hard not to considering your trading your 25 year old stud point guard to the team you just faced in the Conference finals) I’d do this deal 100 out of 100 times because Irving makes that big of a difference both this year and for years to come.

The Celtics are no longer a bridge team piling assets while waiting for an opportunity to make a big move. They are a real team now with real expectations. Win or lose you better bet that the spotlight is going to be on Irving just like he wanted it to be.

So let’s see if he can live up to the pressure of being a true NBA superstar.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox presented us with their best and worst sides in the month of August. They got off to a blazing 11-2 start and continued to beat good teams night in and night out as the month kicked off. The offense was producing, the starting pitching was great, and the bullpen was lights out. All of a sudden the Red Sox were a trendy pick to win the World Series.

Then… they lost four in a row and got swept at home by Baltimore. Sale proved once again that he has a weakness and their name is the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox couldn’t get out of the first two innings without giving up at least three runs, and when Nunez and Devers went cold their offense couldn’t do anything.

All of a sudden now the Yankees were 2.5 games back of the division lead and many wondered if the Red Sox were even going to win the division.

Then… they swept the Blue Jays and now have a 4.5 game lead in the A.L East heading into New York for a huge series.

I’d say the team we saw at the beginning of August isn’t the team you should expect regularly, neither is the team that lost four in a row and got swept at home. It’s somewhere in between closer to the team that won 11 out of 13 however.

The Red Sox are going to be a factor this October. I’ve believed that for a while now. This team is talented to say the least, they’re also sneaky deep. The lefty combo of Sale and Pomeranz is a great weapon to have in the postseason, along with the ability to have  players like Moreland come off the bench in a key at bat (like he did the other night when he blasted a two run shot in Toronto) or Davis when you need a big steal.

The Red Sox are for built for October now the question is “will the lack of playoff experience or their incompetent manager derail the?” All I can say with certainty is seeing Sale pitch in a playoff game is going to be must see TV.

New England Patriots

Not many teams can lose their most valuable receiver and arguably offensive player (besides Brady) and still be far and away the best team in football.

That’s the Patriots for you, but don’t be fooled they certainly took a major hit. Granted they have a really deep receiving corps and should be in a good position to withstand the loss of Edelman. But they really don’t have anyone to replace what Edelman does.

Cooks and Hogan are better suited playing outside the numbers, so are Amendola and Mitchell. Although Cooks can play the slot he doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of yards after contact that Edelman does. Even before he got hurt against Detroit he was dragging defenders for those extra couple of yards.

Another question that has risen this month, is what are the Pats going to do at defensive end. After Ninkovich retired and now with Kony Ealy being cut, there is a noticeable hole at defensive end. Trey Flowers has potential to have a big year, but they lack bodies at the position and starts to make you miss a true pass rusher like Chandler Jones.

But the biggest concern on an otherwise flawless roster is health. Amendola, Lewis, Gronk, and Cooks all have problems staying on the field. So while they can be productive are they going to produce for 16 games? If Gronk goes down the Pats could be in big trouble. Although Dwayne Allen is a good player, he’s not Bennett and that insurance proved to be huge for that Pats last year.

I fully admit I’m nitpicking at this point, but the Patriots look so good what else are you suppose to do? With the start of the regular season right around the corner we’ll be able to better evaluate the Patriots and see if they can live up to the hype.

 

 

Sky is the Limit for Giancarlo Stanton — Chasing 60

GIANCARLO

PHOTO: JIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES So much for the Homerun Derby curse… Giancarlo Stanton has arguably been the hottest hitter in baseball since the All-Star break. And that’s not to say he had a bad first half either. The red-hot Stanton has had a terrific year to this point, knocking 47 HRs, 100 RBIs, and hitting […]

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via Sky is the Limit for Giancarlo Stanton — Chasing 60 — Its My Opinion

Time For Rest? Chapman Continues to Struggle

Written By: Eric Pappas Twitter: @Eric_pappas_2 Aroldis Chapman is one of the best closers in baseball and has been for the last few years, however in the last month it has seemed that he has been in a funk that might be caused from overuse. The smart thing for the Yankees to do is to […]

via Time for Rest? — Wingspan Sports