The Stage Has Been Set for the Championship Series

It’s hard not to watch the postseason, even though the Red Sox are not in it. This postseason had two teams looking for their first World Series win, one team looking for their 28th ring, and another looking to win their second. There’s even one team that has never made it this far. That team is the Washington Nationals. After tying up Game 5, they won it thanks to a grand slam off of Joe Kelly in the 10th inning.

The other Game 5’s were quite exciting as well. The Cardinals took care of business rightchampionship series off the bat. Literally. They scored ten runs in the first inning to beat the Braves in Atlanta 13-1. The Cardinals will be looking to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2013. First, they face the Washington Nationals tonight in the NLCS. Houston took down the Tampa Bay Rays last night with a 5-1 final, and will be facing the Yankees tomorrow night in the ALCS.

The Championship Series Begins Tonight

The National League Championship series begins tonight in St. Louis. Anibal Sanchez will go up against Miles Mikolas in the first game of the championship series. Last time out for Sanchez was on October 6th in which he pitched five innings only allowing one run off of four hits against the Dodgers. Mikolas last pitched against the Braves on October 7th, where he earned the win in the game while pitching in relief.

Game two of the National League Championship Series will be on Saturday afternoon prior to the American League Championship Series. The Cardinals will call on veteran Adam Wainwright for the game. The Nationals haven’t named a starter yet for the second game.

The Yankees and Astros start the American League Championship Series on Saturday night in Houston. Neither team has named a started, but this will be a series to watch. While the Astros look to return to the World Series after missing it last season, the Yankees will be looking to make an appearance in the World Series since 2009.

Notable Players in the Championship Series

By notable, I mean soon to be Free Agents. Players who are looking to not only lead their team to a World Series title, but a player who is showcasing himself to teams who may need him. One of those players is Astros catcher, Robinson Chirinos. He played in four of the five ALDS games against the Rays, batting .222 with one home run. In 2019, he hit .238 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI’s while being an everyday player.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon will be known as one of the guys who homered off of Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the NLDS. The 29 year old had a great 2019 season, batting .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI’s. He was named to his first All Star game this past season, and won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2016. Another infielder that’s a free agent is Didi Gregorius. The 29 year old shortstop was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2015 season to fill the void left by Derek Jeter. Despite spending time on the injury list, Gregorius hit .238 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI’s in 78 plate appearances. He is batting .400 with a grand slam this postseason.

One name that will sound familiar to Red Sox fans is Daniel Hudson. The 33 year old relief pitcher was acquired by the Nationals at the 2019 trade deadline. Since joining DC’s bullpen, he was 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 24 appearances. He also is 1-0 this postseason with a 0.00 ERA in four games. In 3.2 innings, he’s only allowed four hits and struck out five in the postseason.

The Red Sox, MLB, and the Postseason

Despite the fact that the Red Sox are not in the postseason, it’s hard not to watch this year’s postseason games. Right now, three series are heading into Game five of the Division Series. As for one team, they’re already in the Championship Series after sweeping the Minnesota Twins. For the National League side, Game five is today, while the Astros take on the Rays tomorrow night.

Over the course of the past week, the Red Sox and MLB have been making a few moves.the postseason Teams such as the Mets and Pirates have let go of their managers. For the Red Sox, coaches like Dana LeVangie have either been reassigned, or are no longer with the organization. 2020 is already shaping up to be an interesting season, and the offseason hasn’t even started yet.

The Postseason and the National League Division Series

The National League Division series wraps up tonight. The postseason for the National League has been quite interesting. The Washington Nationals took the Wild Card game from the popular Milwaukee Brewers to go on and face the Dodgers. Now, both the Nationals and Dodgers are in LA to find out who moves onto the Championship Series. Longtime National, Stephen Strasburg will go up against Walker Buehler in the winner takes all game. If I were to take a guess as to who moves on, I’d say the Nationals. While both teams are hungry to win, the Nationals have more to prove.

The next game features the Atlanta Braves and the St Louis Cardinals. Game four looked to be a winner for the Braves, but Yadier Molina and the Cards had other plans. Game four went into extra innings at Busch Stadium, and was won on a walk off by Molina. Jack Flaherty will be pitching for the Cardinals in Atlanta versus Mike Foltynewicz. For this game, I see the Braves winning and moving on.

Houston May Have a Problem

Last night, the Astros sent their ace to the mound on short rest. However, Justin Verlander, who is usually dominate in the postseason, only lasted 3.2 innings, allowing four runs off of seven hits. The Rays went onto take game four with a 4-1 victory in Tampa Bay. Home runs from Tommy Pham and Willy Adames pushed the Rays to victory. Ryan Yarbrough earned the win in the game, pitching two innings, and allowed only two hits.

Game five is tomorrow night at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Rays will have Tyler Glasnow going up against Gerrit Cole. Whoever wins this game moves onto play the Yankees in the Championship Series on Saturday night. History would have the Astros winning and moving on, and I have to agree with that. The Rays had a great season this year, but their postseason may be over tomorrow night.

What’s Happening Around the MLB

While some teams are enjoying their postseason run, others are making changes to their organization. At the end of the 2019 season, Joe Maddon was let go by the Chicago Cubs. Reports that former Red Sox and Cubs catcher, David Ross is interviewing for the position, as is former Yankee manager, Joe Girardi.

The New York Mets have parted ways with their manager, Mickey Callaway on October 3rd. Callaway, who was a pitching coach with the Indians, became the manager of the Mets on October 23rd 2017. In 324 games with the Mets, he was 163-161. Another manager that was let go is Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1,456 games in Pittsburgh, Hurdle was 735-720 in the regular season. The 2013 NL Manager of the Year led the Pirates to the postseason in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox have made some moves during the postseason. The first was announcing the departure of Assistant Hitting Coach, Andy Barkett. Another announcement was that Dana LeVangie will not be the pitching coach in 2020, but has been moved to the scouting department as a pro scout. Assistant Pitching Coach, Brian Bannister has also been named the Vice President of Pitching Development.

Other changes can, and will most likely be made within the next few weeks. The Red Sox still need to find a replacement for Dave Dombrowski as well. Once the postseason ends, the Red Sox will have another obstacle to face. The question as to who will continue their careers in Boston needs to be addressed. Also, will JD Martinez opt out of his contract? Only time can answer that question. This is going to be a long offseason in Red Sox Nation.

The Start of the Second Half Was All Right

After the All Star break, the Red Sox returned to Fenway, well rested, and ready to go. With the Dodgers and Blue Jays in town for the second half of the season, you’d think that it’d have motivated this team to win both series. However, that wasn’t the case against the hot blue Dodgers. When it came to facing Toronto though, the team woke up.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions in July. The big question is, what will Davesecond half Dombrowski do before the trade deadline? Before the beginning of the season, MLB implemented new guidelines, including only having one trade deadline. The only major move so far was trading for Baltimore Orioles starter, Andrew Cashner.

Before we get into what’s going through Dombrowski and Company’s mind, let’s take a look at the last homestand.

The Highly Anticipated World Series Rematch at Fenway

When MLB released the schedule last season, I doubt that they knew what they were thinking by scheduling the rematch between the Red Sox and Dodgers. Neither team changed too much, which made for a unique series.

Eduardo Rodriguez had the ball in the first game, and absolutely dominated. His record improved to 10-4 on the season after going seven innings, allowing 5 hits and one earned run. E-Rod also struck out ten while allowing two walks. The offense was on fire as well. Rafael Devers, Christian Vasquez and Xander Bogaerts all hit home runs, which propelled the offense to score eight runs.

Game two, however, was a thing of destruction. The man who closed out the World Series, Chris Sale, only lasted 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. Despite striking out seven batters, the offense was asleep for the better part of the game. For the Dodgers, the Fenway Faithful got a glimpse of Joe Kelly pitching on the mound in Dodger blue. Kelly pitched one inning of relief, allowing two hits, and one run. The Dodgers took this game, 11-2.

The final game of the series went into extras, and saw the bullpen blow up. In what should have been a Sunday night win for Boston turned into a loss at the hands of David Freese and company. While David Price pitched five solid innings, only allowing one run, the bullpen couldn’t keep it together, even when Boston tied it up in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to back-to-back home runs by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. What really stung was when Joe Kelly closed out the bottom of the twelfth inning for the Dodgers.

The Blue Jays Invade Fenway in the Second Half of the Season

After a rough start, Blue Jay Nation came to town, as did Andrew Cashner, the newest member of the Boston rotation. Rick Porcello pitched against the fourth place Blue Jays in game one. Porcello threw six solid innings, only allowing four runs on eight hits. The Red Sox offense went to work early, tagging Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton for five runs in the first inning. Despite the fact that the bullpen allowed six runs in three innings, Porcello got the victory, putting his record at 7-7 on the season.

Andrew Cashner, the newest member of the Red Sox, took the ball in game two. Cashner was pitching in his first game in nine days, and it showed. He went five innings in his Red Sox debut, allowing six runs on eight hits. Despite a first inning home run by Bogaerts, the Red Sox offense was quiet. Jays rookie starter, Jacob Waguespack pitched 4.2 innings, and only allowed the one run in the first inning.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the saving grace of the rotation, took the ball in game three. In 6.1 innings, Rodriguez allowed only two runs off of three hits, while striking out four. Rafael Devers was a contributor in the win by launching his eighteenth home run of the season off of Aaron Sanchez in the third inning. Brandon Workman, who seems to be the savior in the bullpen, earned his fifth save of the season.

In a Thursday afternoon game, Chris Sale had the ball. It should be noted that the real Chris Sale is back. In six innings, Sale only allowed two hits and struck out twelve. The offense tagged Thomas Pannone for four of the five total runs. Both Rafael Devers and Mookie Betts contributed to the runs by launching home runs. Everything seemed to be clicking for Sale in this game, allowing him to get his fourth win of the season, and first at Fenway this season.

First Roadtrip of the Second Half

After going 4-3 in the homestand, the Red Sox head to Baltimore for a three game series, then off to Tropicana Field to take on the second place Tampa Bay Rays. From there, they return home to face the New York Yankees for the first time since the battle in London.

Knowing that we are about a week and a half until the trade deadline, and seeing where we are in the standings, must worry the front office a little bit. With the bullpen seesawing, and the offense slowly picking up speed, a new face in the clubhouse would be a welcoming sign.

The Dodgers Return to Fenway for a World Series Rematch

The last time we saw the Dodgers was game five of the World Series in Los Angeles. It is a game many in Red Sox Nation will never forget. From the stellar performance by David Price, to Steve Pearce’s home run, one of many. Oh, and my personal favorite, when Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado to win it all. Now, here we are, nine months later for the World Series rematch.

While Boston is looking to climb higher in the American League East, the Dodgers areworld series rematch looking to continue their success this season. The Dodgers, who are 60-32 in the National League West, are looking to not only seek revenge on the Red Sox, but look to return to the spotlight in October.

A Highly Anticipated World Series Rematch

As mentioned above, the last time we saw the Dodgers was back in the World Series. October 28th to be exact. While the Red Sox ultimately won it all on the West Coast in game five, you would have thought that they were playing in Boston. The Fenway Faithful came out in full support of the Red Sox that night, and for the parade that followed.

The match up was perfect in every sense. From Alex Cora managing a team in his rookie year, to Dave Roberts managing in Dodger blue, every game was critical. Now, here we are, about to embark on a three game set at Fenway Park. Though it’s not October, it will have an October feel like never before.

Game one will feature Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Kenta Maeda. Rodriguez will be looking for win number ten on the season. The last time Rodriguez faced the Dodgers was at Dodger Stadium in game four. In that start, he went 5.2 innings, allowing four runs, including a home run to Yasiel Puig. Maeda also pitched in that game, going 1/3 of an inning allowing one run on two hits.

Game two will feature Chris Sale vs Ross Stripling, while the finale will feature David Price vs Hyun-Jin Ryu. All three of these games are critical to the Red Sox as they get closer and closer to the trade deadline. Also, after the series against Los Angeles, they will face Toronto for four games before heading to Baltimore.

The Return of Joe Kelly and Rich Hill

Last time we saw Joe Kelly he was in a Red Sox uniform, surrounded by his teammates after winning the World Series. The next time we saw him was on a duck boat in Boston with the World Series trophy. Now, he will be returning to Boston in Dodger blue for a World Series rematch, and receiving his well deserved World Series ring.

Not only did he trade in the red for the blue, but he traded in the number 56 for the number 17. Since signing a three year deal with Los Angeles back in December, Kelly has pitched in 30 games, going 3-3 with a 5.28 ERA. He has pitched in 30.2 innings while striking out 37 batters. The former Red Sox and Cardinal pitcher last pitched on July 6th against the San Diego Padres, pitching one inning and striking out two batters. Unfortunately, neither strikeout was to Manny Machado. Sorry Red Sox fans.

Another familiar face is Rich Hill. The Milton, MA native will be returning to Fenway Park in Dodger blue as well. Hill pitched for his hometown team from 2010-2012, and in 2015. Right now, he is in his fourth season with Los Angeles. Although he isn’t with the Red Sox organization anymore, Hill and his wife are in the process of raising one million dollars for Mass General Hospital to support research for a rare genetic disease that claimed the life of their young son. During the series, the Red Sox organization will be assisting the Hill family with their campaign.

First Homestand of the Second Half

This homestand is crucial for the Red Sox. With the Yankees and Rays tearing it up in the American League East, the Red Sox need to keep their heads above water. Also, we are a few short weeks away from the trade deadline. Last time the Red Sox won the World Series, 2014 saw the team sell most of their rotation. Pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Jon Lester were traded off. From there, the front office kept selling, causing many in Red Sox Nation to panic. Will we see that again this July 31st? Only time can tell.

Sandy Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

The debate over who the greatest pitcher ever was is as old as the game itself. Some say it’s Cy Young because of his 511 wins. Others say it’s Nolan Ryan because of his longevity. But while he’s well known to many, Sandy Koufax doesn’t get the full credit he deserves. That’s partly because he only had six strong seasons. But I argue that those were the greatest six seasons any pitcher has enjoyed in the game of baseball. That makes Koufax the greatest pitcher ever.

Let’s start with just a few of Koufax’s accolades. He was a six-time All-Star. The mangreatest pitcher ever threw FOUR no-hitters, including a perfect game. He was a two-time World Series MVP. He was the 1963 National League MVP when he pitched 11 shutouts. That’s just for starters. Let’s take a look at his actual numbers.

Koufax had 2,396 career strikeouts in just twelve seasons. After twelve years in the majors, Nolan Ryan had 2,686. That’s just 290 more than Koufax had after twelve years. So imagine if Koufax had played for twenty-seven seasons like Ryan did. In fact, while Ryan holds the single-season strikeout record with 383, that’s just ONE more than Koufax’s original record. In other words, only a pitcher like Nolan Ryan could top Koufax, and that’s just barely. While many will argue that Ryan is better, Ryan played twenty-seven seasons in the majors, longer than anyone else. Ryan also never won a Cy Young Award while Koufax won three. So if you put their best years side by side with each other, Koufax edges out Ryan not just quantitatively, but through sheer dominance in the regular and postseasons.

Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

According to ESPN, Koufax would have finished a longer career with 334 wins, 4,377 strikeouts, and a 2.76 ERA. And that’s only if he’d played another eleven seasons. It’s hard to tell what he would have done if he’d gotten Tommy John surgery and continued to play (it wasn’t around yet).

There are those who say Koufax’s first six years keep him from standing as the greatest pitcher ever. They have a worthy argument. Koufax only won 36 games in his first six seasons, an average of six wins a season. He was wild on the mound during those first six years too. But how many pitchers can anyone point to and cite the dramatic turnaround Koufax had between 1960 and 1961?

Through strikeouts, dependability, and sheer dominance, Koufax was the greatest pitcher ever.

The Continued Greatness of Theo Epstein

While some hipsters may argue for Andrew Friedman and his Dodgers think tank, Theo Epstein is still by far the most talented executive working in baseball today. The former Red Sox general manager didn’t necessarily build this current Boston team, but he certainly laid the foundations with astute draft picks and legendary signings. Meanwhile, in Chicago, he’s constructed a juggernaut that looks set to dominate for many years to come, affirming his reputation.

Theo Epstein

Epstein’s achievements in Boston are meticulously documented, to the point where people tend to forget the magnificence of his everyday maneuvering. The overarching narrative is intoxicating. Theo’s expertise in statistics and scouting delivered the first Red Sox championship in eighty-six years. As if that wasn’t enough, the wonder kid then plotted a further title run in 2007. The Red Sox were transformed from streaky contenders to serial winners.

Of course, things didn’t end particularly well between the Red Sox and Theo Epstein. Epstein felt pressure from ownership to make extravagant free agent signings that helped television ratings but hindered his vision for a sustainable baseball machine. Nevertheless, despite receiving some unfair criticism in recent years, Epstein left a strong legacy that we still see on the field every single day at Fenway Park.

The Legacy of Theo Epstein

Dustin Pedroia, the heart of this team, was drafted by Theo. So was Clay Buchholz, but hey, you can’t have them all. Theo also signed David Ortiz and Junichi Tazawa, two key pieces on the 2016 Red Sox. However, what many people don’t acknowledge is that Theo also drafted Betts, Bradley Jr., Swihart, Vazquez, Owens and Shaw. As for Xander Bogaerts, that guy playing shortstop and leading the league in hitting? Well, Epstein signed him, too.

Obviously, a lot has happened since Theo left Boston for Chicago, and Ben Cherington and Dave Dombrowski have made worthy tweaks to this team. But facts must be respected, and one such fact is that the fingerprints of Theo Epstein are all over this Red Sox team. Though it may pain some bitter fans, he deserves greater recognition for that.

How the Cubs Were Built

While Boston is a fine offensive ball club, the Cubs are in a different universe right now. Chicago is 44-19, and has a legitimate shot at beating the all-time record of 116 regular season wins. As a team, the Cubs get on base at a .347 clip, second only to the Red Sox, but every starter has an ERA below 3.00 and the bullpen has been solid. Oh, and the Cubs also lead the league in several defensive stats, as if they weren’t dynamic enough.

Perhaps most impressively, this team was built from scratch by Theo and Jed Hoyer, his trusty lieutenant. They inherited a mess at Wrigley Field, and decided that the best way to get better was first to get worse. Short term pain for long term game was the mantra. Epstein was given the space, time and revenue to execute his Utopian plan for the ultimate baseball team.

First, a young core was established, mostly in the minor leagues, courtesy of trades and brilliant draft choices. Then, once it had matured, external free agents that made sense were signed to compliment the homegrown nucleus. That’s how the Cubs wound up with such a formidable team, with elite players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber primed to lead the North Side resurgence for perhaps a decade to come.

Theo’s Visions for Boston Carried Out in Chicago: What will the Future Hold?

Right now, we’re seeing at Wrigley Field what Theo Epstein once envisaged for Fenway Park and the Red Sox. Many people are quick to say that this fan base wouldn’t tolerate such an aggressive rebuild. Surely it was more purposeful than the general cellar-dwelling of recent times. Yes, the Red Sox won a World Series in 2013 while the Cubs tanked, but Chicago now has a window to win multiple rings while Boston’s future is very bright but far more uncertain.

Ultimately, Theo Epstein was the architect responsible for the two most potent offenses currently dominating Major League Baseball. While he certainly made mistakes in Boston, and developing pitching has always been an issue for his front offices, Red Sox fans must appreciate his continued influence on the team’s fortunes.

Perhaps the Sox and Cubs will meet in the World Series this year. After all, both teams are in strong positions. However, when the last generation of Theo players leaves the Red Sox, the true test will present itself. Can Dave Dombrowski match his forebear in creating a sustainable, organic winner? Only time will tell.