Category Archives: Baseball

NL Wild Card Game Predictions: Score, MVP, Players to Watch

Holy sheet. The Yankees vs Twins was certainly the right way to start the 2017 postseason. I was literally and figuratively at the edge of my seat the entire time. No joke, one time I put my hands up to celebrate and I actually slipped off my chair. But, as Mr. Walker would say, I digress.

Fortunately for us baseball fans, this was only the beginning…there is another game tonight between two up-and-coming teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies.

Please Note: This game will be played at Chase Field in Arizona, so pleeeeeaaaaaaseeee do not make the argument that the Rockies are going to win this game because “the air is thin”. Gr8 thx

Image result for chase field

With that said, the Rockies are the owners of two NL MVP candidates in Charlie Blackmon (.331, 37 HR, 104 RBI) and Nolan Arenado (.309, 37 HR, 130 RBI). The Diamondbacks possess one of their own in Paul Goldschmidt (.297, 36 HR, 120 RBI, .404 OBP), as well as second-half stud J.D. Martinez who is batting .4000000 with 400 home runs in the second half since being traded from the Tigers (it’s a hyperbole) and cleanup hitter Jake Lamb who blasted 30 HR this season.

As for pitching, the Rockies are starting Jon Gray, who has ridiculous stuff but is throwing in his first ever postseason game. The Diamondbacks are tossing seasoned-vet Zach Grienke, who has tasted the postseason multiple times with a 3.55 ERA and a 3-3 record. We have seen him struggle mightily in Milwaukee in the playoffs, but we have also seen him dominate in his time with the Dodgers. In his first playoff start with his new team, how will Grienke come out tonight? My prediction…below:

Players to Watch 

SP Zach Grienke, ARI: This $200 million dollar man is also the man that left LA because he doesn’t like attention. Well, there is no bigger spotlight than being the starter in a win-or-go-home game. I project Grienke to disappoint against this hefty Rockies lineup, but I would really like to see him prove me wrong.

Image result for greinke

1B Jake Lamb, ARI: With Gray likely to avoid the strikezone against Goldschmidt and Martinez, expect Lamb to be forced to step up big time in tonight’s game. He will hit with RISP, but if he can come up clutch is on him.

OF Carlos Gonzalez, COL: This poor man has seen the good Rockies and the really, REALLY bad Rockies. He has had a well below-par season (.262 BA and 16 HR), but the former Face-of-the-Franchise player has a chance to redeem himself in the playoffs.

Image result for carlos gonzalez

RP Pat Neshek, COL: As we saw last night, the bullpen is everything in the postseason. If Gray can give a quality start, Pat Neshek will be given a chance to bridge to elite closer Greg Holland.  The submariner had a fantastic season (1.59 ERA in 62.1 innings), but since I expect the Rockies to have the lead going into the late innings, Neshek’s performance will prove to be pivotal in keeping the Diamondbacks in check.

MVP

SP Jon Gray, COL: Roles will be reversed tonight. Grienke will implode, and Gray will shine on the road. I expect him to give a great performance and keep the Rockies in the game, performing as the confident, young ace they need him to be. After Luis Severino’s performance last night, Gray will likely take a little longer in the bullpen to make sure he is calm, his stuff is sharp, and he can take a nice, deep breath before game-time. He will not be throwing a perfect game or anything, he will most certainly give up multiple runs. But he will get out of multiple jams and limit the damage, while the Rockies offense takes care of the rest.

Image result for jon gray

SCORE

7-5 Rockies: Although I’d like to see the Diamondbacks advance because I think they are the more exciting team, the Rockies have the moving parts to pull this game out. Grienke will give up 4 runs, and the Diamondbacks bullpen will not be able to stop the bleeding. I expect Blackmon to be stellar, and D.J. LeMahieu to deliver some big hits in the middle innings. Arenado will likely be silenced, but its for that reason that I hope Car-Go will be able to step up in a huge spot and remind Rockies fans why he stuck around for all these years. J.D. Martinez will continue his hot streak but the Diamondbacks lineup will not have enough firepower to keep up.

The underdog Rockies win and advance to play the Dodgers.

 

AL Wild Card Game Predictions: Score, MVP, Players to Watch

Tonight’s matchup will feature the “Rebuilding” Baby Bombers of the New York Yankees and the “Oh Shit They’re Good?” Minnesota Twins. This is the Yankees first playoff game since the 2015 Wild Card Game, AKA the “Dallas Keuchel Shoving Our Dreams Down Our Throats Performance”, and the Twins first postseason breathe since losing to the 2010 Yankees in the ALDS.

Any do-or-die game is always an intriguing matchup, but being a Yankees fan, tonight is especially exciting. It’s the beginning of something very special, and hopefully this core will be the next group of Yankees that will break our hearts in 15 years when they retire.

Image result for yankee fans

In my opinion, this game comes down to experience. Both teams are going to have the talent to get a win, but who is going to have the know-how to actually pull it off. While I am not a big Girardi fan, he is one of the longest tenured coaches in baseball and had a 15 year career as well, so he has to know something, right? On the other side is Paul Molitor, a Hall of Fame player, but only a third year coach. He may not be the first option for a manager, but as a great player, he will certainly be able to calm the nerves of some of the Twins young stars.

Players To Watch

Aaron Judge: No shit, but I’m interested to see how he plays under all this pressure. Fans are expecting a lot from him, let’s see if he thrives.

Byron Buxton: Same goes for the Twins young stud. Without Miguel Sano, Buxton will be the offensive leader of this team based on the way he has been hitting over the past couple months. He is also one of the best defenders you will ever see, so keep an eye out for him to make a game-changing play.

Image result for byron buxton

Chad Green: Expect him to be first out of the bullpen for the Yankees. The first bit of trouble Severino finds himself in, Green will be in the game ready to give multiple innings of relief. If he does come into trouble rather than a clean inning, how he gets out of it could determine the outcome of the game.

Eddie Rosario: Starting in left field tonight, Rosario was once ranked the #3 prospect in the Twins system. He has legit pop, and at Yankee Stadium that is something to be worried about. He has a swagger about him that with one big hit, can absolutely change the momentum of a baseball game.

Dellin Betances: After an ugly September, he’s not the #1 guy out of the pen anymore. But, it’s likely the Yankees will need multiple big outs to get through this game. While Robertson, Chapman, and Green can be relied on to get through the bulk, Betances’ name is likely to be called at some point in need of a strikeout (possibly 2nd and 3rd, one out type situation). If he can control the zone and not walk anyone, he can be an X-factor in this game, but that is no guarantee right now.

Image result for dellin betances

Ervin Santana: The Twins starting pitcher for the night has had a great 2017 campaign, but he is notorious for being good, and then getting absolutely shelled. His postseason record is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA…not too impressive.

MVP

Didi Gregorius:  If there was anyone that was going to cure the Derek Jeter hangover, I’m glad it was Sir Didi. People outside of the Bronx have yet to notice it, but he is turning into one of the elite shortstops baseball has to offer. I look forward to seeing him shine tonight on the big stage.

Image result for didi gregorius

SCORE

5-2 Yankees: Severino will pitch six innings, allow 1 run, then come out in the 7th being replaced by Chad Green, who will let in one of Severino’s runs on base, and then from that point on the bullpen will close the door. I expect the Stadium to have a lot of energy, which will let the Yankees hop on Santana early before he settles in. Don’t expect much from Judge because every good manager knows never to let a team’s best player beat you. Didi Gregorius will have a clutch double that drives in 2, and an insurance run single that gives him 3 RBI’s on the night.

Yanks win and advance to take on the streaking Indians.

 

 

Chase Headley Getting Pegged in the Baby-Makers Means Yanks Are Officially Back on Track

Before I write this blog, let me make it clear I firmly appreciate the year Chase Headley has had this season. He carried the Yanks offensively when they were struggling before and after the All-Star break, and has unexpectedly put together a nice 2017 campaign.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Chase Headley could be batting .570 with 94 dingers, I’d still feel like he’s hitting .248 with 6 home runs and striking out swinging on sliders in the dirt.  He’s what Katy Perry is talking about in the song “Hot N’ Cold”, he’s yes then he’s no, he’s in and he’s out, he’s up and he’s down (back when Katy Perry was actually good).

When the Yankees were hot this season (excluding the first two weeks of the season), Chase Headley was not. He went from hitting an insane .380 in the beginning to plateauing at a consistent .240 for the rest of the year. During that time, the Yankees were playing 1st-place baseball.

Then when the Yankees were falling far into second place and rubbing shoulders with the Rays for third, Chase Headley was scorching hot, going 3-4 almost every game and contributing to a failing offense.

Right on schedule, Headley has started to come down to earth lately, and last night him being hit in the twig and berries firmly makes me believe the Yankees are back on track.

When things are right for the Yankees, they are wrong for Chase Headley.  He’s hot, Yanks are cold. He’s cold, Yanks are hot. It’s science. Ask the nearest nerd what they think, it’s undeniable.

So by Chase being plunked in the Golden Snitch, it’s clear that things are not going his way right now. Coincidentally, the Yankees are 8-2 in their last 10 and their magic number is down to 5 to clinch a playoff spot. Crazy how some things just make sense.

Thank you, Chase. You’re the hero we need, but not the one we deserve. Ice up.

Rhys Hoskins: Crazy Name, Crazier Stats

For the second year in a row, we have seen rookies do their best Steroid-Era impressions. With the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Cody Bellinger, rookie hitters have treated MLB pitching like it’s their dad throwing them BP on a Little League field.

Added to this list is Philadelphia Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins. With 18 HR in his first 34 games, he is making the bottom of the NL East seem cool again (although the Mets are doing everything in their power to do the opposite).

Image result for rhys hoskins gif

Image result for rhys hoskins gif

Image result for rhys hoskins gif

Sure, this early success could be accredited to “beginners luck” and the usual argument will be made that “Oh, pitchers and coaches will eventually learn how to throw to him”. Similarly, this jaw-dropping success happened to Judge and Sanchez, and they have since cooled off some.  The same story is going to happen with Hoskins, as this pace is not possible to keep up, but there are often two roads that players go down when they start their career with an historic hot streak. They can continue to be an effective player throughout their career, or they can fall into the “what could have been” category.  Don’t expect Hoskins to be done in the headlines once this season ends.

To name one recent example, we saw Trevor Story last year hop out to an amazing start with seven home runs in seven games, but has never been the same player since. His sophomore slump hit him pretty hard.  Many players find success in their rookie years and never see it again (especially in the NFL), most because they do not have the proper instincts or the intelligence to make greater, necessary adjustments.  But, if you take a deeper look at what Hoskins brings to the table, I think you’d be ready to go all-in on this kid.

He is the Phillies Number 4 overall prospect, and recently (August) turned 24 years old. As I stated before, it is beyond impossible to keep up this power surge, expect big time home run numbers from him throughout the rest of his career. In his 2016 Double-A campaign, he hit 38 home runs and had 116 RBI, and before he was called up in 2017, he was having another fantastic season with 29 home runs and 91 RBI.

Here is his Baseball America Scouting Report:

Hoskins is, first and foremost, a hulking human. The Sacramento State product is built like a linebacker at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with a broad chest, chiseled arms and thick, muscular frame.

He generates easy power when he connects, punishing balls to all fields both when he elevates and drives it on a line. Where Hoskins stands out is, unlike many other baseball players so large and muscular, he generates elite bat speed. He consistently posted the fastest bat speeds at the Futures Game, surrounded by the game’s elite prospects, and he matches it with patience, strike-zone discipline, and hitters instincts. Hoskins strikes out very rarely for a power hitter, and overall has 64 walks against 75 strikeouts this season.

Hoskins has further worked to turn himself into a serviceable defender at first. He has good hands that make him reliable picking up scoops and grounders, and he has improved his range, although it would never be considered elite.

Evaluators have generally been skeptical of his ability to play the outfield because of his size and lack of speed. He is not the most agile or quick-twitch of an athlete, and the last three games he played in left field were the first three of his professional career. He played left field as a freshman at Sac State.

Image result for jonah hill excited gif
Phillies fans

It doesn’t really sound like luck to me.  His elite bat speed and hitters discipline is something that takes years for many players to master (ie: Aaron Judge), but the fact that it is so clear in his scouting report is a great sign for him to be a factor in the NL next season.  I often say baseball intelligence is one of the most underrated aspects of a player. If you don’t understand the game, you will never achieve your max potential. Discipline is often partnered with intelligence and great baseball knowledge, so it seems Hoskins has a great deal figured out. I really do not think anybody is that concerned about his defense. They say he is good at first, so boom, now you have the righty version of Cody Bellinger.

So get your jerseys now, folks. Rhys Hoskins (one of the hardest names to write in a blog because you never know if the “y” comes before the “h” and every part of you wants to write “Hopkins” instead. Lots of discipline, lots of focus here) is here to become an elite hitter in the MLB, and quite possibly bring the Phillies back to a playoff berth.

The Indians Have Won 18 in a Row…You Nervous Billy Beane?

For all the uncultured swine out there, it was documented in one of the greatest baseball movies ever, Moneyball, that the 2002 Oakland Athletics won 20 straight games under the power of Rain Man-esque General Manager Billy Beane.  The concept of “Does he get on base” worked out rather well, as they rolled through the AL winning 103 games that year. Iconic movie for baseball fans, a definite must watch, and you can’t hate the fat Jonah Hill.

Image result for jonah hill moneyball gif

But, for all the hard work that fat Jonah Hill and super-genius Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) did for the A’s, the 2017 Indians are giving them a run for their money with their current streak.

Image result for jonah hill moneyball gif

Well, Billy Pitt or Brad Beane (whichever combination you prefer) let me tell ya!  The Indians have won 18 games in a row, and are nearing the Expansion Era record that made you guys famous.

Image result for jonah hill moneyball gif

Alright, sorry, I’ll stop with the gifs.

My point is that the most memorable, recent, and entertaining winning streak is being threatened in the MLB right now, and it’s very exciting. The Indians are beating opposing teams as if they were an oversized bully in middle school with self-esteem problems.

Having the lead 149 out of 153 innings? Outscoring opponents 118-30? That means, on average, they are beating their opponents by a margin of about 5 runs a game.  Yes, I got a B+ in Algebra II in high school, so you can vaguely consider me the math guru of BTB Sports (sorry Mr. Walker).

I know the Indians started the season off similarly to the Cubs in that they just couldn’t break away from average baseball. Maybe both teams were still fatigued from the long World Series five months later…who knows? But while the Cubs have still maintained the speed limit on the road of winning, the Indians better look for sneaky cops because they are driving at lightning speed right now in broad daylight. We all know how dangerous of a team they can be, but most of the season we weren’t seeing it. Now, their window of opportunity has shot open and they are looking like the favorites to represent the AL in the World Series once more.

Even if their streak does end, it does not look like they are slowing down anytime soon. Reinforcements are on the way in Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis. These guys will likely be coming back from the 10-day disabled list soon, and if not soon, likely before playoffs begin.  Getting back arguably the best reliever in baseball and two top-to-middle of the lineup guys will only make this team that much better (duh), but it’s a little scary to think about the fact that the Indians have yet to peak this season.

You nervous Billy Beane?

Giancarlo Stanton Will Reach 62 Home Runs, and Won’t Be the Last To Do So

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is finally living up to his monster contract. He is currently batting .296 while blasting 50 home runs and driving in 108 runs, and in most people’s opinion (including mine) is the front-runner to be crowned NL MVP.  He has multiple goals this season, one of them being taking the Marlins to the playoffs, as they are only 4.5 games out of the Wild Card (one of the reasons I love the second wild card spot, because everybody has a chance it feels like). Another goal, one that has created a lot of buzz, is his journey to 62 home runs.  This would allow him to beat Roger Maris’ “record”, set in 1961. The reason “record” is in italics because players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire have all surpassed that amount, but while under the accusation of steroid use. Therefore, baseball fans feel that the organic record for home runs in a season stands at 61.  While it is a very touchy subject, and one I would love to discuss with readers in the future, it’s not what I’m here to discuss.

I am here to say that Giancarlo Stanton will not only reach the iconic 62 home runs this year, but he will not be the last. Stanton is going to be a pioneer of a new era of home run hitting.

Continue reading Giancarlo Stanton Will Reach 62 Home Runs, and Won’t Be the Last To Do So

David Wright Update: Confirmation That He is Alive

On Tuesday night, we saw something we hadn’t seen since May 27, 2016:  David Wright playing in a baseball game. Despite the fact the every person in this world thought David Wright would still be on his death bed for at least a few more months, Wright was back last night to DH in a rehab game for the Single-A St. Lucie Mets.

Wright would go 0-4 with two strikeouts, but it’s a beautiful sight to see the captain on the field again. There’s a good chance David’s back is too shot to ever return to the major leagues, let alone make an impact on the Mets. However, if there’s one way to start a comeback, it’s to team up with Jesus Christ himself.

Continue reading David Wright Update: Confirmation That He is Alive

Clayton Kershaw to Start Rehab Assignment; Minor Leaguers Literally Shit in Pants

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who was having yet another career year before his back injury on July 23, will start to rehab and set in place his return to the bigs. He will be pitching with the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate creatively named the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He plans to return to the rotation barring any setbacks during the start, but the organization is not planning on rushing him back if he doesn’t feel ready, considering they have an 800.5 game lead in the NL West.

While this is good news for Dodgers fans everywhere, this is bad news for whatever unlucky AAA team Kershaw will have to face in that start. Kershaw makes the best MLB hitters seem like Little Leaguers, so I assume he will make AAA hitters look like they are swinging a Wii remote.

I don’t care if Kershaw hasn’t pitched off a mound in 2 months or 8 years, he will make anyone standing in the batter’s box look silly. Continue reading Clayton Kershaw to Start Rehab Assignment; Minor Leaguers Literally Shit in Pants