Showing posts with label Jason Kipnis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason Kipnis. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indians push Cubs to the brink with dominant Game 4 win

Corey Kluber
First things first: Can we please stop with the narrative about Cubs pitcher John Lackey being great in the postseason?

Yes, Lackey has had some good playoff moments, such as this game, but he's also gotten his butt kicked in some playoff games, such as this one that is fondly remembered by all White Sox fans.

I keep hearing from both local and national media that Lackey is an awesome playoff pitcher, but frankly, at age 38, it looks like his best days are past. The right-hander has been nothing but mediocre for the Cubs in the postseason. He hasn't worked past the fifth inning in any of his three starts, and he's posted a pedestrian 4.85 ERA in only 13 innings.

Lackey was once again so-so Saturday night, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits over five innings in the Cubs' 7-2 loss to Cleveland in Game 4 of the World Series.

The Indians now enjoy a 3-1 series lead and have three chances to close out the Cubs. Game 5 is Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

Lackey was outpitched by Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, who allowed one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one, while improving to 4-1 with 0.89 ERA in five postseason starts. Kluber pitched on three days' rest, and will be prepared to pitch again in Game 7 if the Cubs somehow extend this series that far.

Kluber left the mound after the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead, and the Tribe broke the game open moments later in the top of the seventh on a three-run homer by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Cleveland got Lackey out of there after five, then capitalized for four runs off Chicago middle relievers Mike Montgomery, Justin Grimm and Travis Wood.

The Cubs had somewhat of a moral victory in the eighth when Dexter Fowler homered off Andrew Miller, thus proving the Cleveland relief ace is mortal. Miller already has set a record for playoff strikeouts in a single season with 29, and that Fowler homer was the first run he has allowed in 17 postseason innings.

Having a 7-2 lead allowed the Indians to rest closer Cody Allen for a night. Dan Otero closed out the ninth inning with no difficulty.

We can't count the Cubs out of this yet, as they have the edge in the pitching matchup in Game 5. Ace Jon Lester is going for the North Siders, and he'll be opposed by the one Cleveland pitcher who has not been doing his job in these playoffs, right-hander Trevor Bauer.

We'll see if the season ends Sunday, or if there will be a Game 6 on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Here's why Boston might not beat Cleveland in the ALDS

Rick Porcello
Most of the experts are anticipating a Boston-Texas ALCS this year, so of course, Cleveland and Toronto both won Thursday in their respective ALDS Game 1s.

The Red Sox have become the popular pick to win the AL pennant going into the playoffs. Maybe it's just sentimental -- I think media members root for the story -- they want that Cubs-Red Sox World Series; they want that "David Ortiz retires on a high note" narrative.

But picking Boston is not without merit. The Red Sox have the best lineup in baseball. They scored 878 runs this season, the most in MLB. The second-highest run total in the AL belongs to Boston's first-round opponent, Cleveland, which scored 777 runs.

Here's the problem with the Red Sox: Their top two pitchers have a track record of stinking it up in the playoffs.

Rick Porcello is a Cy Young candidate this year. He went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA. It was the best year of his career by far. Nobody can take that away from him.

But, he was awful in a 5-4 Game 1 loss to the Tribe on Thursday. He allowed three home runs in the span of nine pitches in the bottom of the third inning. Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor all took him deep. Porcello pitched just 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits. He put the Red Sox in a hole their powerful offense could not quite escape.

Porcello has no track record of postseason success. He's 0-3 with a 5.66 ERA lifetime in nine playoff games. Granted, only three of those nine appearances are starts, but he's yet to show he can do the job when the bright lights come on.

Boston's No. 2 starter, David Price, is in a similar boat. His regular-season numbers this year were quite respectable, 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA. But in the playoffs, he's 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in 14 games. And, oh yeah, both his two wins came in relief. In eight playoff starts, Price is 0-7 with 5.27 ERA.

These two guys have got to come through for the Red Sox if they have hopes of winning their fourth World Series title since 2004, and it needs to start Friday when Price takes the ball for Boston against Cleveland ace Corey Kluber in Game 2.

Also, maybe we should be taking the Blue Jays more seriously. They throttled the Rangers, 10-1, on Thursday, and while Marco Estrada is not a household name, he's starting to build a resume as a clutch pitcher. He tossed 8.1 innings of one-run ball for Toronto in Game 1, and he's 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in four playoff starts over the past two seasons.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here's a look at the second of my two fantasy teams

Let me start out by saying nobody should derive any fantasy baseball advice from looking at this roster. I'll be shocked if I contend in this particular league.

It's a 10-team league -- five new owners (including me) and five returning owners. The five returning owners got to keep up to five players from last year, with the stipulation they couldn't keep their first-round draft pick from last season. That means there were still some elite players on the draft board, like Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Clayton Kershaw. All those guys were first-round picks in this league last year, and therefore could not be "kept" by any of the returning owners.

Nevertheless, some elite guys who were *not* first-round draft picks last year were kept and were not available in this draft. That list of players included Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen -- all of whom certainly would have been drafted in the first round had they been available.

I had the 10th pick out of 10, so pretty much all of the real top-flight guys were gone by the time I made my first pick. They were either kept by returning owners, or selected in the nine picks made before mine. I knew I was behind the eight-ball no matter what I did, but I ultimately decided to take Troy Tulowitzki with the 10th overall pick and Jason Kipnis with the 11th. If nothing else, I had my middle infield set, and those positions are traditionally harder to fill than first base or any of the outfield spots.

Without further discussion, here's the team I drafted:

C: Brian McCann
1B: Eric Hosmer
2B: Kipnis
SS: Tulowitzki
3B: Manny Machado
LF: Mark Trumbo
CF: Michael Bourn
RF: Jay Bruce
Util: Mike Napoli
Util: Coco Crisp
BN: Jhonny Peralta
BN: David Freese
BN: Kelly Johnson

SP: Cole Hamels
SP: James Shields
SP: Julio Teheran
SP: Matt Moore
SP: Sonny Gray
SP: Justin Masterson
SP: Chris Tillman
RP: Trevor Rosenthal
RP: Grant Balfour
RP: Tommy Hunter

It should be noted I've already made two roster moves since the draft. Bourn is going to start the season on the DL, so I added another speedy outfielder in Ben Revere, who surprisingly was left undrafted in this league. I think he's a decent sleeper this year. In addition, another owner dropped Chase Headley, so I quickly snapped him up and released Freese, who is coming off a rough year and has had a poor spring.

Much like my other team, I'm taking a chance on Machado getting healthy and returning to form at third base. He's not going to be ready for the start of the season, so I needed a decent backup. Headley was the guy I wanted for that role all along, but somebody drafted him before I could get to him. I settled for Freese, but I was delighted earlier this week to see that Headley became available for nothing. I see him as a reasonable stopgap in the short run.

Have I mentioned yet there's one guy in this league who had Trout, Goldschmidt, McCutchen and Dustin Pedroia as his keepers? And, oh yeah, he drafted Kershaw, Jose Fernandez and Justin Verlander with his first three draft picks. That team is completely stacked, and it's hard not to feel like the rest of us are playing for second.

Me? I'll be lucky to finish in the top half of the league. Maybe next year.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nick Swisher fails Indians in the clutch

I'll admit it: I can't stand Nick Swisher, and I was cheering against the Cleveland Indians in Wednesday night's American League Wild Card game for just that reason.

Swisher is one of my all-time least favorite White Sox players. He was only on the South Side for a year (2008), and that was one year too many in my book. He batted .219 and got benched in favor of Dewayne Wise late in the season.

The national media likes to portray Swisher as "always laughing, always smiling" and "great in the clubhouse." Maybe he is, and I don't pretend to know what goes on in any major league clubhouse. What I do know about Swisher is he is overmatched against upper-echelon pitching. His weaknesses always come to the forefront in the playoffs. In 47 career postseason games, he is hitting .165 (26 for 158) with 48 strikeouts.

Swisher cemented his reputation with another lousy playoff showing Wednesday night as the Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the ALDS with a 4-0 win over the Indians. Swisher went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and looked pathetic during a critical at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Indians were trailing 3-0 at the time and had two men on with two men out. Tampa Bay summoned reliever Joel Peralta from the bullpen to replace eventual winning pitcher Alex Cobb. Peralta easily struck Swisher out on three pitches, and Cleveland's best and final chance to get back in the game went by the boards.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Indians had a golden opportunity -- runners on first and third with nobody out. They failed to score after Michael Bourn struck out, Swisher grounded out weakly to first and Jason Kipnis grounded right back to Cobb for the final out.

All told, Bourn, Swisher and Kipnis went 0 for 12 with 12 baserunners stranded. That's not what you want from your 1-2-3 in the lineup. For Swisher, failures in the playoffs have become all too common. He just can't do anything against quality pitchers from quality teams. I have to say I don't feel the least bit sorry for him.