After watching the first two games, I wasn’t overly excited about the third. It was a great matchup between Webb and Zambrano, I know, but I was simply baseballed out at this point. So I watched useless reruns of tv shows that are mostly off-air at this point, but kept the Cubs game on "recall." It was the top of the sixth inning and the bases were loaded against one of the best pitchers in baseball, Brandon Webb. Zambrano was up at the plate, in a key situation, and he struck out. So I assumed he was coming back in the game after six innings, but I was unaware of the pitch count. The next time I tuned back in, the Cubs were on defense again and Zambrano was out of the game. I just assumed he was spent, or maybe his pitch count was high. But when I awoke this morning, Buster Olney told me otherwise (in the form of a blog). The pitch count of Zambrano was apparently only at 85 after six innings, which means he could have thrown at least one more inning, possibly two. This IS the Cubs best pitcher, and he was pitching well. He has to be given the chance to go deeper in the ballgame one would think. It is playoff time. I believe Zambrano should have gone at least seven, possibly eight. And this isn’t just hindsight either. This is the ace of the staff, the guy who has three games on his playoff resume.’ So it isn’t as if he was on the mound for the first time either in this type of atmosphere. He needed to be given the opportunity to win Game 1.
I believe that Ted Lilly will pitch well tonight. If you may not remember, in my "rather elementary" predictions before the season, I felt that Lilly was going to have a good season. The new league, and the fact that I had seen him at his best before, led me to think that [this] season he would be solid. Now, I was wrong about a lot of things too, but Lilly I felt strongly about, if only for a year.
Cole Hamels settled in nicely yesterday. Maybe in the beginning it was that hothead mentality that The Prince of New York always refers to. Or perhaps it was simply a lack of experience. Regardless, he started getting hitters out. After all, his "stuff" was never in question.
CC Sabathia, if nothing else, keep the Indians in the game tonight! I want to see a competitive game between the Yankees and Indians. A lot of people that seem to be picking the Indians seem to be doing it simply out of spite. They want the Yankees to lose. Now I believe that if the Indians two "aces" are dominant then the Indians can win. But if the Yankees take one, more likely against Carmona one would think, then the Indians are in real trouble. Then they would be relying on Westbrook’s fickle sinker, and Paul Byrd’s Barry Zito-like fastball in the Bronx. Unless CC goes on short rest, which would probably be only to avoid elimination, then Byrd is most likely going to be going.
More on Josh Beckett. Twenty-five pitches that didnt go into the box score as strikes. One of the best performances I have seen at the biggest stage, the playoffs. I was trying to think of a few others, came up with a few: Livan Hernandez against the Braves in 97.’ Pedro of course with six no hit innings in 99.’ With the bullpen theme, El Duque coming out of the pen against the Sox in 05,’ just to name a few.
This is why I wanted Schilling to go in Game 2: 2.06 ERA, 104K, 22BB, 7-2 record on baseball’s biggest stage. And he does not walk batters. Putting certain Angels on base is not a good thing. And Dice-K seems to like to do this. But it isn’t Matsuzaka’s next start that bothers me so much. He has an ERA around 3.10 the first time he has faced a team this season. But it jumps significantly the next time around. So Game 3 I am not worried about as much. It is Game 5, if necessary, that would worry me. It would be the second time in five days that they would see him, and it would be against a lineup that thrives when they can get guys like Figgins, and Willits on base…for free…without swinging the bat. I have heard that the reasoning for having Schilling potentially throw only one game in this series was due to health issues, or more importantly, keeping the 40 year old fresh. Also, having Matsuzaka make his starts at home may not be a bad idea, as Schilling should not be flustered with the road crowd going crazy. But the Red Sox know things that I do not, and I am pretty certain that they have a little more confidence in Schilling than they do Matsuzaka. That isn’t to say that they don’t believe in Dice-K though.
Based on popular demand, while one person asked anyway, my "Rookie of the Year" awards. This award goes to the player that would most likely be a dominant pitcher after breaking his arm. Oops, I got a little confused there, sorry.
AL Rookie of the Year
Dustin Pedroia- Subjective? I believe he was more deserving than anyone else. Try to argue otherwise. Dice-K won some games, but wasn’t great. Willits had an OBP of .391, but in a significantly fewer amount of plate appearences. Delmon Young’s OPS+ was actually below average at 88, and he was a corner oufielder. Young isn’t even in the discussion in my opinion, unless having a strong arm singlehandedly propels someone to an award. Okajima was great, but fatigued at the end of the year. Iwamura was good for a rookie, but not better than Pedroia, in my opinion anyway. The race is actually debatable. The "Try to argue otherwise" saying was just for fun I guess. The most negative aspect of Pedroia’s season, was that he played at Fenway. His OPS at home was .912, which is great in respect to his position. But on the road it was only .729. Willits was actually much worse away from Anaheim. The comfort of being at home would mean a little more to any player I would think, but to a rookie it seems it would mean be even more beneficial. I am not sure of this, but I would think it would be more comforting to be at home, rather than in some large city that they may never have been to before. Delmon Young, was slightly better on the road, but Willits, Pedroia and Iwamura were all better at home. Willits and Pedroia were especially better at home though. I don’t know how much that theory would matter, but Pedroia is a good choice, I do know that.
NL Rookie of the Year
This one gets a little confusing. Tulowitzki was awesome with the glove at a premium position, but he was much better hitting at home as well. And if he put up the same numbers but played in the AL, he would have won a little more easily. But in the NL he had a player with 34 homers, and an OPS+ of 154 in the discussion, Ryan Braun. Who was terrible defensively at third, but put up monster numbers on offense. However, Braun only played in 113 games, while Tulo played in 155. Braun finished with 22 "Win Shares" and Tulowitki accumulated 25. Kouzmanoff may be included as well, as he was much better away from the canyon that is Petco. But I think he sits behind the two discussed above. And if you love solo home runs and stolen bases than one would include Chris Young also. But his sub-.300 OBP was a huge downside. I will go with Tulo. The great glove and enough offense, and the fact that he played 155 games means a lot. It isn’t because his team made the playoffs either. I give him a slight edge over Braun. But it is very close.