Game two of the NLCS marks the second time we lose by a run with the Cubs as an underdog in these playoffs. Hendricks was good, but Kershaw was better. The best pitcher in the world gave up two hits in seven shutout innings and will get a break from the nonsense about his postseason struggles this morning. Instead, the chatter will more likely be about when he can come back again for the Dodgers, who will probably need another two wins from him to topple the Cubs, who come back with Arrieta and Lackey in LA.
For now, we’re going to shift back to the American League where the Blue Jays need a win in game three to change the tone of this LCS. Cleveland took care of business at home, winning two close, low scoring games behind Kluber, Tomlin and that steadfast ‘pen. But it’s very possible things could shift, and shift dramatically in Toronto. And because I just don’t see this championship being a quick and decisive Indians victory, I expect that shift to take place tonight.
Terry Francona joked about Trevor Bauer’s situation yesterday. And maybe a few stitches on the back of his starter’s pinky finger is only a laughing matter for a man who started Curt Schilling in an elimination game hours after experimental surgery on his right ankle. But to compare the two situations beyond that would be an injustice. First of all, if completely healthy, what can we expect from Bauer on the road in Toronto? And if things don’t go perfectly from the outset, does the 25-year-old young man from Hollywood have the resolve to pitch through a potentially problematic finger? If he walks none, like he did against Boston, Bauer has the stuff to keep Toronto down for five innings, which is surely as many outs as Francona can dream of getting from a man who had been projected as an extra bullpen ace come playoff time.
Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman hasn’t pitched since the wildcard win against Baltimore in which he was just fantastic, giving up four hits and walking none in six innings. He was far more hittable than projected this season, but looked the part in his first playoff start (remember he missed October last year with an injury). Rested and at home, Stroman represents safe and steady in this matchup. Bauer feels like a bit of a time bomb in this one. So I think game three goes to the home team in a route. It’s still not a play, though.
YTD: 36-24-1 +5.75
2015: 31-25-5 +1.09
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02