Oct 30

World Series Game Three, 2015

Royals at Mets, 5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Noah Syndergaard tries to stop the Royals and prevent them from taking a nearly-insurmountable three-zip lead and Yordano Ventura tries to throttle the Mets yet again in this Series. Syndergaard has made two starts in the postseason and pitched an inning of relief in the NLDS, running up a 1-1 record with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. Ventura has made four starts already in the postseason, going 0-1 with a 5.09 ERA. His first start contributed heavily to that high ERA, however: he went only 2 innings and gave up 4 hits and 3 runs.

Here’s an interesting statistic: In the NLDS and NLCS, Mets pitchers struck out 91 batters in 80 innings; they’ve only struck out 10 Royals in 21 1/3 innings in the World Series.

Oct 23

ALCS Game Six, 2015

If the Royals win they move on to the World Series against the Mets; if the Jays win they force a Game Seven tomorrow.

Blue Jays at Royals, 5:00PM PT, TV: FS1

The Jays ask David Price to win the most critical game yet in a week of them; in Game Two he was very good until the seventh inning when the wheels came off. The Royals counter with Yordano Ventura, who started Game Two against Price and gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings and didn’t figure into the decision.

Oct 12

ALDS Games Four, NLDS Games Three, 2015

Early AL game: Royals at Astros, 10:00AM PT, TV: FS1

The Astros have a 2-1 lead and send rookie Lance McCullers out to try to win the series. The Royals send first-game (but only two innings thanks to rain) starter Yordano Ventura out to keep the Astros from doing that.

Late AL Game: Blue Jays at Rangers, 1:00PM PT, TV: FS1

The Rangers lead the series 2-1 and hope to win at home. They’ll send out Derek Holland, who’s been in 13 post-season games in his career. He and the Rangers will face R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. This will be Dickey’s first postseason start.

Early NL Game: Cardinals at Cubs 3:00PM PT, TV: TBS

The series is tied 1-1. The Cubs like their chances in this game, and who wouldn’t? They send All Second-Half pitcher Jake Arrieta to the mound to face the Cardinals, who counter with Michael Wacha.

Late NL Game: Dodgers at Mets, 5:30PM PT, TV: TBS

First, I think this game is going to start on TNT rather than TBS unless the Cubs-Cards game is a blowout; I don’t believe the first game will come in under 2 1/2 hours as it would have to for there to be a seamless switch at 5:30PM PT.

Second, Utley. The latest word is that his appeal is “unlikely to be heard today.”

Utley’s representatives and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association asked for time to prepare their case, which would make Utley eligible to play until a hearing takes place.

Now, the game itself. The Dodgers send Brett Anderson to the hill in his second postseason appearance (2012 for the As), while the Mets send Matt Harvey and his “will he or won’t he throw more than 180 innings this year?” controversy (he wound up throwing 189 1/3 in the regular season) to the mound. Anderson was the best ground-ball pitcher in the big leagues this year, inducing them at a 66.3% rate. Harvey was 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA at home, far better than he was on the road.

This will be the first postseason game ever played at Citi Field; all previous Mets’ appearances were at Shea Stadium.

Lineup when available.

What? No Utley?


Oct 08

ALDS opening games, 2015

Early game: Rangers at Jays, 12:30PM PT, TV: FS1

Texas asks Yovani Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) to start its first post-season game in three years. He’ll face the Blue Jays’ David Price (18-5, 2.45 ERA and an even more brilliant 9-1, 2.30 ERA since becoming a Jay mid-season).

Both these teams are hot. The Blue Jays went 40-18 (.690) over the final two months; the Rangers went 38-22 (.633) over the same period.

Is history any guide?

Toronto won each of its two three-game series against Texas this year, leading to a 4-2 advantage in the overall season series. The teams last matched up Aug. 25-27 in Texas, where Toronto won the first two games and lost the finale.

Late game: Astros at Royals, 4:30PM PT, TV: FS1

The Astros send out Collin McHugh, (19-7, 3.89 ERA, and who knew the Astros had a 19-game winner?) to face the Royals’ Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA). That record’s a little misleading: Ventura was sent to the minors in July and almost instantly recalled as an injury replacement; since that time he’s gone 9-1 with a 3.10 ERA.


The bottom-line offensive production of these two teams was virtually identical over 162 games. The Royals played in the tougher hitter’s park, but still it can’t get much closer than this. The Astros were sixth in the Majors in runs scored with 4.50 per game, while the Royals were seventh with an average of 4.47.

Oct 28

World Series Day Six, 2014

Giants at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Up three games to two, the Giants send Jake Peavy to the mound to try to win the Series for them tonight. The Royals counter with Yordano Ventura. This is a rematch of Game Two. Peavy went five innings, gave up six hits and four runs, walked two and struck out one, and took the loss. Ventura gave up two runs on eight hits with no walks and two strikeouts in a no-decision in the same game.

Is history any guide?

Although teams playing at home down 3-2 in a best-of-seven World Series (2-3-2 formats only) are just 13-16 all-time, they’ve won it all in eight of the last 10 instances, including, most recently, the 2011 Cardinals and, most appropriately, the 1985 Royals. Only four road teams have won a Game 6 since 1980 — the 2003 Marlins, 1997 Indians, ’92 Blue Jays and ’81 Dodgers.

And how about this? Going back to 1982, when the home team wins Game 6 to tie a League Championship Series or World Series, that team is 14-1 in Game 7.

I’m rooting for a Game Seven, because I don’t want baseball to end before it has to. “Pitcher and catchers report” is still four months away.

Oct 22

World Series Day Two, 2014

Giants at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Kansas City’s rookie Yordano Ventura starts for the home team, while 13-year veteran Jake Peavy is on the hill for the visiting San Franciscans.

Insert paragraphs about “the team which goes up 2 games to none in a seven-game series wins umpty-ump percentage of the time” and blah blah blah. The Giants know that. The Royals know that. Neither team cares about it. It’s this Series they’re playing, not all those ones in the past.

That said, the Royals really would like to win at home tonight, to get the split and to get their fans excited.

Oct 11

ALCS Day Two, NLCS Day One, 2014

Royals at Orioles, 10:00AM HST/1:00PM PT, TV: TBS

In Game One the Royals reversed conventional wisdom and hit three home runs while stealing no bases. The Orioles did the opposite, stealing two bases and hitting no home runs. The two teams go at each other again Saturday afternoon with the Royals leading the series 1-0. Pitching for the Royals will be Yordano Ventura, who went seven innings against the Angels in the Division Series on Friday, surrendering five hits and one run while striking out six. Ventura’s career record against the Os is 0-1 with 17 strikeouts and a 1.26 ERA. His opponent will be Bud Norris, who pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the Tigers in the final game of the ALDS, giving up two hits and striking out six. He was a hard-luck loser against the Royals in May, giving up one run in 7 1/3 innings.

Giants at Cardinals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Madison Bumgarner and Adam Wainwright are the two horses of their respective staffs. The Giants did well against Wainwright this season, roughing him up twice, including May 30 at home when they got to him for seven earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Bumgarner split two decisions against the Cardinals this year.

The teams are pretty even. Look at these numbers:

The similarities in the Giants and Cards are reflected in regular-season pitching numbers that are close to identical. Both teams finished with 3.50 team ERAs and eight complete games. The Cards, with 1,221 strikeouts, racked up 10 more than the Giants’ staff. Hitters batted .242 against the Cards, .241 against the Giants.

Oct 03

ALDS Day Two, 2014

Tigers at Orioles, 9:00AM PT, TV: TBS

Down one game to none, Detroit sends the second of their three former Cy Young winners, Justin Verlander, out to stop the Orioles and their third-year big leaguer Wei-Yin Chen. Chen was 16-6 with a 3.54 ERA in the regular season, while Verlander had an uncharacteristically bad year, going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA.

If Detroit loses, they’re in serious trouble. They’d be down 0-2 in a five-game series, and only five times in 44 tries has a team in that position turned the series around and won.

Royals at Angels, 6:30PM PT, TV: TBS

The Royals, fresh off two extra-inning wins, ask rookie Yordano Ventura (14-10, 3.20 ERA) to keep their streak going. The Angels, in an 0-1 hole, ask star rookie Matt Shoemaker (16-4, 2.94 ERA) to plug the dike and send the series to Kansas City tied at one game apiece.

The same caveat applies to the Angels as to the Tigers: if they go down two games to none their chances of winning the five-game series are pretty bad.