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It's Brandon Morrow versus Francisco Liriano... plus a bunch of other guys...

Game One kicks off tonight in a billboard matchup of stellar lefties. The Big Square Beard Dance, Dallas Keuchel, toes the rubber for the AL Champion Astros against the NL Champion Dodgers, who counter with Sandy Koufax's hurky-jerky heir, the great Clayton Kershaw.

It all begins tonight at 8pm (ET). Who ya got?

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Mike Green - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#350295) #
The Big Square Beard Dance, Dallas Keuchel

I call him City and Dessert (from kugel). 

Kershaw has been unusually vulnerable to the home run this year.  And they haven't been cheap. It was quite a different story in 2016 and in previous years.  The Astros are a club that can take advantage of this.   
Chuck - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#350297) #
Battle of the beards. Keuchel is not from Texas but has a junior version of the ZZ Top look going (a band where the guy with the last name Beard is the one guy without a prominent beard). Kershaw is from Texas, but ain't nothing ZZ Top about his beard. He's got that first year university student in a dorm look where everyone grows a beard no matter how crappy it looks, and your parents tell you at Christmas that you might look better without it but hey, you know better, you're living on your own now and no one tells you what to do but then you meet a girl who suggests that maybe that crap on your face needs to go and you discover that yeah, someone can tell you what to do. No, this isn't my personal story.
Magpie - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 08:51 PM EDT (#350302) #
Verlander-Kershaw would be a pretty awesome matchup, although it looks like it won't happen. That's a shame. It really doesn't happen very often that the most dominant pitcher in each league matches up in the World Series. It would have been - what - the closest thing since Gooden-Clemens in 1986? That, naturally, turned out to be a complete anti-climax but c'est la guerre.
ISLAND BOY - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 10:05 PM EDT (#350305) #
I don't care who wins but I'm leaning toward the Dodgers in 6 games.
DavidtheDeuce - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#350306) #
This World Series I really would be equally pleased if either team wins.

If LA wins: happy for AA, Farhan, Morrow, Roberts

If HOU wins: happy for Altuve, Verlander, Beltran, city of Houston
Gerry - Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 11:03 PM EDT (#350307) #
Well pitched and super fast game. But momentum is as good as tomorrows starter, so pressure and momentum is on Verlander.
bpoz - Wednesday, October 25 2017 @ 06:41 AM EDT (#350308) #
I was going to post this earlier.

I remember Oakland lost to the Reds in 4 straight. LaRussa was the manager. Oakland was very good. I concluded that the long layoff caused the fast demise.

Shapiro in his interview with Jays from the couch said that the LAD long wait could be a problem.

So my prediction was a quick elimination of LAD. Houston would win in 5 games at most. I would be happy to be wrong. Maybe.

This all comes back to the Jays. In theory we will never or almost never be an elite team. Mainly due to budget restrictions. So no worries of eliminating the opponent fast.
mathesond - Wednesday, October 25 2017 @ 11:08 AM EDT (#350313) #
Well, Kershaw had his dominant start, as I requested in the previous playoff thread. Of course, I missed it as I was at Nathan Phillips Square for the Choir! Choir! Choir! tribute to Gord Downie (Heck, I even got interviewed for local TV!). I was thrilled to learn that the game only took about 2 1/2 hours to play, it's funny how games seem to move a bit quicker when the Yankees or Red Sox aren't playing :)

As for my other requests, I haven't heard anything about a Puig bat-flip, and since it ended in 9 there was no chance for a Turner extra-innings triple. But, Verlander could go the distance tonight, someone can still but against the shift, and Game 7 is still very much in play.

I wonder what TV shows Fox is promoting this year. The over-promotion of shows like House and 24 (not to mention Skin) discourage me from ever watching them.
hypobole - Wednesday, October 25 2017 @ 07:51 PM EDT (#350317) #
Don't know if anyone caught this on ESPN, but Norman Lloyd will be in the left field stands tonight. He still remembers the first WS game he attended, 1926 in the Yankee stadium bleachers watching Gehrig and Ruth.

Awesome little story.

85bluejay - Thursday, October 26 2017 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#350331) #
The 2 AL east teams that made the playoffs part with their respective managers, the 3 teams that didn't keep their managers - life is funny.
bpoz - Thursday, October 26 2017 @ 07:23 PM EDT (#350333) #
Well said 85bluejay. Dave Roberts was suggested as a manager for our Jays when AA was looking. I think he was.
John Northey - Thursday, October 26 2017 @ 11:52 PM EDT (#350334) #
How very weird to take a team much further than anyone expected (most thought the Yankees were rebuilding this year) and still get fired (or let go). Very odd.

As a Jays fan I hope the Yankees pick a dud who will do a terrible job in 2018 and beyond.
Petey Baseball - Friday, October 27 2017 @ 02:34 AM EDT (#350335) #
It's nice to remember this trade in November '07 and hope the Jays have similar luck with a supposed "backup" middle infielder. A player with Scutaro's skill set seems like exactly what the Jays need as Travis/Tulo/Donaldson insurance. Let's hope Atkins has something like this in the cards.
christaylor - Friday, October 27 2017 @ 02:26 PM EDT (#350337) #
How soon we forget. The Jays were most certainly an elite team post-deadline in 2015.

The Jays will never be an elite team in the way that the Dodgers or past (and probably future with Harper/Trout) Yankees are through a hefty payroll, but they can and should save their bullets for those moments when they can add down the stretch (which they probably should have done at the deadline in 2014).
John Northey - Friday, October 27 2017 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#350338) #
The Jays never have won 100 games in a season. 1985 was the only time they had more than 96 wins (99 wins). 96 was reached twice - 1987 (grrr) and 1992 with 95 reached only in 1993. 2015 with 93 and 1991 with 91 wins are the only other 90 win seasons. 2016 and 1989 are the other playoff years and both times the Jays won 89 games and got lucky. 1983 and 1984 were both also 89 win seasons but not so lucky as Baltimore and Detroit were much better those years.

So despite being a very good team for a very long time (1983-1993 and 2015/16) the Jays only cracked 90 wins 6 times with 4 close calls (1 win away).

For comparison, since 2010 the Yankees have won 90+ 4 times (2010/11/12 all being 95+ win seasons, plus this year at 91 wins). With 103 wins in 2009 (plus a WS title) - more wins than the Jays ever have had. And this is just in the past decade (5 90+ win seasons plus a sneak into the playoffs 87 win season over 10 years).

Or for a comparison with a team that doesn't seem to have unlimited resources lets compare to the Cardinals. From 2008-2017 they won 90+ 5 times, 100 once, 95+ twice, the WS once, snuck into playoffs with under 90 once. Helps to be in the NL Central but still, in 10 years they won 90+ just one time less than the Jays have since 1977. Ouch. And doing it all on a much lower budget.

Basically the Jays have never been able to do what the Yankees and Cardinals normally do - stay at the 90+ win mark for an extended period. Both use strong farms to do so, the Yankees add in tons of cash to keep/sign free agents. Right now the Jays have the bucks to do the free agents and (hopefully) have a ML staff who will keep the minors populated with quality and quantity.
BlueJayWay - Friday, October 27 2017 @ 11:27 PM EDT (#350339) #
On the other hand, the Jays have been remarkably good at avoiding being completely terrible. They haven't lost 90 games in a season since 2004 (with 94 losses) and before that you have to go all the way back to the early 1980s (asterisk for 1995 since they lost 88 games in a shortened schedule and would have blown by 90 and possibly reached 100 in a full season).

It's been a team without extremes.

ISLAND BOY - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 06:52 AM EDT (#350340) #
Just extremely mediocre.
DavidtheDeuce - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#350341) #
Another great game last night. Unfortunately it was tainted by Yuli Gurriel's disgusting behaviour. I hope that MLB reacts strongly to his racist gesture and slur.
scottt - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#350343) #
Houston had Aoki in left field for most of the year.
Personally, nothing bothers me more than a crowd singing U-S-A.
I really like this Gurriel a lot and I think a 1-day suspension would be appropriate.

Cracka - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#350345) #
I hope that MLB reacts strongly to his racist gesture and slur.

I think they did the exact opposite - a penalty specifically designed to have a minimal impact (5 game suspension, but starting next April). I think what angers me the most about it is Commish Manfred saying that he "decided to have the suspension be served at the start of the 2018 regular season because it would be unfair to the other Astros players." WAIT WHAT??? Isn't the entire point of a suspension to deter others from similar behaviours in the future? Why should it matter if it's unfair to his teammates? I actually agree with Yu Darvish and think that this should be an educational opportunity rather than a vilification... however suspending him for the rest of the world series is the only suitable response by MLB in this era of "zero tolerance". A deferred suspension is a joke.
mathesond - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 06:17 PM EDT (#350346) #
I imagine Dylan Hernandez' column (he's half-Japanese), won't sit well with the 'Gurriel must go" crowd.
John Northey - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 11:24 PM EDT (#350347) #
5 games seems reasonable given past history. Just checking the Jays we see Pillar calling a pitcher a f***ot and he got 2 games for that (like Gurriel he apologized quickly). Yunel Escobar got 3 games for having a slur on his eye black. So 5 games is actually bigger than the past events would suggest to expect.
DavidtheDeuce - Saturday, October 28 2017 @ 11:59 PM EDT (#350348) #
Baseball karma is a witch with a capital "B". Happy to see the Astros take it on the chin tonight. Kershaw vs Keuchel v2.0 tomorrow night? That's entertainment.
bpoz - Sunday, October 29 2017 @ 08:32 AM EDT (#350349) #
My theory of long layoffs between series bites the dust.
StephenT - Monday, October 30 2017 @ 01:49 AM EDT (#350351) #
Shulman and Boone on the radio did a great job calling the game tonight (as usual), discussing the strategy, right through whether to pinch run for McCann in the 10th, etc.
scottt - Monday, October 30 2017 @ 07:49 AM EDT (#350352) #
They traded Teoscar and Aoki because they wanted Derek Fisher as their 4th outfielder.
Hasn't done much since that trade though.

I thought this was the game we'd see Liriano.

There's some discussions about the World Series balls being slick and sliders not biting as much while pitches thrown with the seams not being affected. For a fastball/slider reliever, this could be huge.

Gerry - Monday, October 30 2017 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#350353) #
That was quite the game last night.

The starting pitchers have been pitching fewer innings this off-season, partly due to the hitters but also due to the unwillingness of the managers to let several starters face the lineup more than twice. That reduces starters innings and increases bullpen innings.

But then, at the same time, the managers only trust half their bullpen pitchers so they go to the same guys again and again. Now that we are deep in the playoffs the bullpen pitchers are on fumes so you get these epic blown saves and high scoring games.

There could be a price to pay next season for those bullpen guys who are being overworked right now.
dan gordon - Monday, October 30 2017 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#350356) #
Quite a remarkable game. Morrow was pitching in his 5th game in 6 days, which probably explains why he was so ineffective yesterday. I think the Dodgers are taking their starters out too soon, and the bullpen in gassed.

Kershaw now has a career post season ERA of 4.50, compared to a career regular season ERA of 2.36.

With Correa, Altuve, Springer, Bregman and Gonzalez all 28 or younger, the Astros are going to have a formidable offense for years. Will be interesting to see how many of them they can keep when they reach free agency.
Mike Green - Monday, October 30 2017 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#350357) #
I do like the tandem, or almost tandem, starts the Astros have employed a couple of times in the playoffs.  There's no need to do it with Verlander, but I imagine they might do it again in Game 7 with Morton and McCullers. 

I said that there would be a 14-12 game in the Astro-Yankee series. Close but no cigar.

Mike Green - Tuesday, October 31 2017 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#350360) #
Dave Cameron recommends a tandem start for the Dodgers tonight.  Unsurprisingly, I agree. 
85bluejay - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 07:24 AM EDT (#350361) #
Happily, the Dodgers force a game 7 without taking Dave Cameron's advice - Yu's chance for redemption.
whiterasta80 - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 08:28 AM EDT (#350362) #
Ugh. Take nothing away from the dodgers pitching, but the Astros hitters HAVE to find a way to win that game when Verlander (and the bullpen) gives you that.
scottt - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 08:41 AM EDT (#350363) #
Curious to see who will end up with the MVP here.
James W - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 11:28 AM EDT (#350364) #
Springer and Pederson are the leading candidates, but whatever happens tonight might be valuable, possibly even Most Valuable.
JohnL - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#350365) #
Interesting connection...

If Morrow is used tonight, he'll be just the second pitcher ever to pitch all 7 games of a World Series.

First one was Darold Knowles for the 1973 A's. He was later the rehab pitching coordinator for Blue Jays, and coached Morrow on his annual rehab stints in Dunedin, 2011-2014.
mathesond - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#350366) #
I wonder if anyone had Fox tried & was able to convince Vin to sit in the booth for an inning or so for tonight's game. Be a fitting capper to the season & Series.
Chuck - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 05:59 PM EDT (#350367) #
convince Vin to sit in the booth

Both Fox's and MLB's broadcasts are a little Buck-heavy. Having Vin instead of a Buck would go a long way.

greenfrog - Wednesday, November 01 2017 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#350369) #
If Morrow is used tonight

The Dodgers might have to call on Morrow tonight. One thing is for sure: the Dodgers won't have to go to Morrow tomorrow.
StephenT - Thursday, November 02 2017 @ 12:00 AM EDT (#350371) #
2015 Royals: The key is to have 3, yes 3, invincible 1-inning guys to close out a game.

2016 pundits: No, the key is to have a bunch of invincible 1-inning guys that you can extend to 2+ innings each in the playoffs to pitch the whole game.

2017 (the truth is revealed): The key is starting pitching depth.  The quality 4th and 5th starters can give you a bunch of 3+ inning saves in the playoffs.
Chuck - Thursday, November 02 2017 @ 06:34 AM EDT (#350372) #
The quality 4th and 5th starters can give you a bunch of 3+ inning saves in the playoffs.

It is amazing that Houston won despite getting nothing from their three best regular-season relievers. That's quite a handicap.

bpoz - Thursday, November 02 2017 @ 07:17 AM EDT (#350373) #
Good managing by Houston. Try to get Morton into the game with a clean inning.
jerjapan - Thursday, November 02 2017 @ 10:50 AM EDT (#350376) #
The Killer Bs were never able to do it, but I'm happy for Houston - the underdog team, at least financially - and happy for the people of Houston. 

Amazing about Morrow, and while he doesn't get a ring, he's the guy I'm happiest for - what a journey.  Sucks to be Yu Darvish right now. 

Pretty fascinating how the Stros ran their pitching staff.

Looking forward to some prospect lists and free agency!  It's like 100+ days or so till pitchers and catchers report, right?
Mike Green - Thursday, November 02 2017 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#350379) #
2015 Royals: The key is to have 3, yes 3, invincible 1-inning guys to close out a game.

2016 pundits: No, the key is to have a bunch of invincible 1-inning guys that you can extend to 2+ innings each in the playoffs to pitch the whole game.

2017 (the truth is revealed): The key is starting pitching depth.  The quality 4th and 5th starters can give you a bunch of 3+ inning saves in the playoffs.

Truth?  Nope.  It's all about situations, talent, experience and environment- the trick is to maximize both performance quality and leverage talent in a different context than one sees in the regular season.  The way the Astros played their talent was smart- they had seven pitchers on the post-season roster who made more than 10 starts- Keuchel, Verlander, McCullers, Morton, Peacock, McHugh and Musgrove.  Keuchel and Verlander were used conventionally, while McCullers and Morton were used as swing men and Peacock and McHugh threw longer relief outings.  It wouldn't work with all sets of talent, and certainly not for the 'Stros had Verlander not been acquired. 

I'd like to see some team try tandem starters at least for one or two of their rotation slots during the season, with the idea that the tandem will complete the game (and give the shorter bullpen a rest day).  It allows for a greater number of pitchers who are acclimated to throwing 4-5 innings regularly and reduces the number of lesser starters going 3rd time through the order.  I can see Houston doing it at some point.Luhnow is a smart man and might have the ability to carry it off because of the team's success.
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