2017 MLB Playoffs Update

 

By early next week we should know which team from the American League and which team from the National League will battle it out in the 2017 World Series. So far, it appears as if both the Houston Astros and the L.A. Dodgers have each league’s championship series sewn up. The Dodgers are 2 and 0 over the Cubs. The Stros are 2 and 0 over the Yankees.

Is that really the case? Is it a given that the Dodgers battle the Astros in the 2017 World Series? I attempt to answer that question.

2017 MLB Playoffs Update

American League Championship Series

Houston Astros 2 Games to New York Yankees 0 Games

Game 1:  Astros 2, Yankees 1

Dallas Kuechel took the mound for the Houston Astros in their almost boring 2 to 1 win over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Yankees started pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to counter Kuechel. Tanaka pitched well. He allowed 2 earned runs, struck out 3, and walked only 1 in 6 innings.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Tanaka’s performance paled in comparison to the one that Kuechel brought to the mound. Dallas was as good as he’s ever been. Any talk that Kuechel hadn’t regained the form he showed in the first half of the season went out the window after this performance. Dallas pitched a full 7 innings. Like Tanaka, he walked a batter. He also struck out 10 Yankees. Kuechel allowed 0 earned runs.

Although Dallas Kuechel was fantastic in ALCS Game 1, the Yankees played well enough to expect a different outcome in ALCS Game 2? Did a different outcome emerge?

Game 2:  Astros 2, Yankees 1

Nope. It didn’t. As great as Kuechel was in Game 1, former Detroit ace Justin Verlander was better in Game 2. Verlander struck out an amazing 13 Yankee batters in Game 2. He pitched 9 innings. That’s correct. Verlander was so in the zone that manager A.J. Hinch didn’t think once to take out the future Cooperstown pitcher.

Verlander was ready to go a 10th inning, but something almost unheard of happened in the bottom of the 9th. The great Aroldis Chapman allowed a run. Carlos Correa doubled to deep right center. Jose Altuve had no problem touching home plate because Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez dropped the baseball.

The Astros beat the Yankees 2 to 1. The loss spoiled terrific mound appearances from Luis Severino, Tommy Kahnle, and Dave Robertson. Severino pitched 4 innings, Kahnle pitched 2 innings, and Robertson pitched 2 innings. Severino said after the game that he could have continued. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Severino because it appeared he was having trouble.

Game 3:  Astros at Yankees

When:  Monday, Oct. 16 at 8:08 pm ET

Do the Yankees have any shot versus Houston on Monday, Oct. 16? I believe they do. New York sends CC Sabathia to the mound. Sabathia has pitched well during the entire MLB Playoffs. Houston has seen CC 88 times. They have 17 hits off Sabathia. 3 of the 17 hits have gone for home runs. CC has struck out 24 Astro batters. All told, the Stros bat .193 against CC Sabathia.

Houston has penciled in Charlie Morton to start on Monday night. Morton’s overall numbers aren’t bad at all. He has a 3.62 ERA, a 14-7 record, and a 1.19 WHIP. Morton has faced Yankee batters 113 times. He’s allowed 37 hits. 7 of the 37 hits have gone for home runs. He’s only struck out 21 Yankee batters from the 113 at-bats.

The Yankees bat a terrific .327 against Charlie Morton. This might be a throwaway game for the Houston Astros. The Yankees are sitting on a win after getting so close to a W in Game 1 and Game 2. I like the Yankees big.

Prediction: Yankees over Astros by at least 2 runs

Game 4:  Astros at Yankees

When:  Tuesday, Oct. 17

Game 4 takes place on Tuesday, October 17. Yankee manager Joe Girardi has already stated that he’s starting former Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray. Gray knows the Houston Astros very well. He’s faced Astro batters 116 times and has allowed 32 hits. He’s given up 2 home runs from those 32 hits, and has struck out 19. The Houston Astros average .276 at the plate versus Sonny Gray.

A.J. Hinch hasn’t said whom he’s starting in Game 4 on Tuesday. I believe Hinch wants to see what happens in Game 3. If the Astros beat the Yankees in Game 3, he might go for the sweep by sending Dallas Kuechel to the mound in Game 4. If the Yankees beat the Stros in Game 3, he might go with Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers Jr. hasn’t been the same since suffering an injury during the season.

My guess is that Hinch goes with Lance McCullers Jr. I believe the Yankees take him apart in Game 4. The Yankees have a great shot of evening the series by Tuesday Oct. 17.

Prediction:  Yankees by at least 2 runs

National League Championship Series

L.A. Dodgers 2 Games to New York Yankees 0 Games

Game 1: Dodgers 5, Cubs 2

The Cubs fought hard to beat the Washington Nationals in their NL Divisional Series. It’s no wonder that Chicago appeared a big distraught during Game 1 against the Dodgers in the National league Championship Series.

Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw only pitched 5 innings in L.A.’s Game 1 win. Kershaw wasn’t all that great. He ended up allowing 2 earned runs, struck out 4, and he walked 1. Kershaw’s ERA was 3.60. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts called an audible after taking Kershaw out early. He sent Tony Cingrani out for .1 of an inning. Kenta Maeda, usually a starter, pitched an inning. Brandon Morrow pitched .2 of an inning. Tony Watson pitched .2 of an inning. Kyle Jansen pitched in the 9th.

For the Cubs, Jose Quintana did all he could in Game 1. He left the game after inning 5. At that point, it was Dodgers 2, Cubs 2. The Cubs bullpen lost Game 1. Could the Cubs’ bullpen pick it up in Game 2?

Game 2: Dodgers 4, Cubs 1  

The answer is no. The Cubs’ bullpen lost the game again. To be fair, a couple of Cubs’ pitchers from the bullpen were fantastic in Game 2. Both Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop pitched over an inning each. Neither gave up an earned run.

In fact, up until the bottom of the 9th, the Cubs and Dodgers were tied 1 to 1. What happened in the 9th? Cubs reliever Brian Duensing gave up an earned run. That doesn’t tell the whole storey. John Lackey, who’s pitching as a reliever in this series, allowed a walk-off home run to Justin Turner in the bottom of the 9th. There were 2 outs when Lackey gave up the home run. 2 on, 2 outs, and Lackey gave up the homer to Turner.

Dodgers won 4 to 1.

Game 3:  Dodgers at Cubs

When:  Tuesday, Oct. 17

The Cubs list pitcher Kyle Hendricks as their starter in Tuesday’s game. Hendricks had a decent season. His ERA is 3.03. His WHIP is 1.19. The one knock on Hendricks is that his home ERA is 3.20 compared to his away ERA.

That’s not the big problem the Cubbies might have in Game 3. Unless the Cubs’ relievers do more, it’s going to be difficult for Chicago to win any game in this series. The Dodgers are loaded with a fantastic bullpen. Even if the Dodgers’ starters don’t pitch well, like Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 and Rich Hill in Game 2, Roberts has plenty of talent in the bullpen to keep L.A. in the game.

The real question isn’t about the Cubs’ starters. It’s about the Cubs’ bullpen. If the BP can get it together, Chicago might last until Game 5 or 6 in this series. They won’t win Game 3, though. Dodgers’ starter Yu Darvish allows the Cubs to bat .195 against him.

Prediction:  Dodgers on the money line

Game 4:  Dodgers at Cubs

When:  Wednesday, Oct. 18

The Dodgers send Alex Wood to the mound. The Cubs counter with Jake Arrieta. It’s difficult to see the Dodgers sweeping the Cubs in the NLCS. It could happen unless the Cubs’ relievers get it together. I’m not sure it will happen.

I’ll give Game 4 to the Cubs just because Arrieta should have his best stuff going. I also believe Alex Wood stumbles a bit at Wrigley Field. I’m going to say the Cubs eke out a victory over the Dodgers. I’m not 100% positive about Wednesday’s game, though.

To me, the Cubs are prime for a sweep loss to the L.A. Dodgers in the NLCS. But, hey, let’s give the former lovable losers at least a single game in this series.

Prediction:  Cubs on the money line