The Nationals beat the two best starting pitchers in the American League to take a 2-0 series lead over the Astros. That’s a big hurdle for the Astros to try and overcome. The Yankees are all beat up. Hicks/Tanaka/Voit all are undergoing surgery, and does the Hicks news mean that Gardner will be back in ’20?
NATIONALS LEAD WORLD SERIES 2-0
The Nationals have won 8-straight postseason games, tied for the longest streak in a single postseason in baseball history.
The Nationals are up 2-0 after winning both games on the road. In Series history, the team that jumps out to a 2-0 lead wins 85 percent of the time (71-of-84).
The Nationals scored 17 runs in games started by Cole/Verlander. That’s the third most runs ever produced by the road team the first two games of a Series. Those two Astros arms had been 45-13 this season. They are the first pair of 20-win teammates to lose the first two games of the Series since Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax in 1965.
The Astros didn’t issue a single intentional walk until game 173, the second game of the Series.
Juan Soto needs to tone down the crotch grabbing, and the staring after taking balls. Basically, the soon to be 21-year old, his b-day is Friday, needs to grow up a bit. That’s not a huge surprise. But man, can the kid hit. He has such a smooth swing, uses the entire field, and clearly doesn’t get rattled by the moment. If he keeps his head on straight, we’re witnessing the birth of an all-time great here.
Stephen Strasburg lowered his career postseason ERA to 1.34. Amongst pitchers who have thrown 40-innings, that is the third best mark, ever (Mariano Rivera 0.70 and Sandy Koufax 0.95). That effort also includes a 0.96 WHIP, 12.3 K/9 and just six walks leading to a phenomenal 10.67 K/BB ratio for Strasburg who, for all the obvious detractors over the year, has come up huge when it counts most.
Justin Verlander has made six World Series starts. He does not have a win. He has a 5.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with a 3.27 K/BB while going 0-5. He’s not a choke artist, is he? So why is Clayton Kershaw called one? His postseason numbers include a 4.43 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a 4.95 K/BB ratio and a 9-11 record. Verlander did reach 200 strikeouts in his postseason career, the all-time leader in that category, so there’s that.
Maybe baseball isn’t dead after all.
Aaron Hicks, who came back from an elbow injury to appear in the playoffs, will have Tommy John surgery next week, and with an 8-10 month recovery process, the news likely means a return of Brett Gardner on a 1-year deal is possible to the Yankees (more on that in a second). Hicks agreed to a 7-year, $70 million deal with the Yankees in February and went out and did Aaron Hicks kinda things. By that, I mean he got hurt. For the fifth time in sever years he failed to appear in 100-games. Alas, his 59 games played were the lowest total of his career. He’s a solid player, but injuries are constant with him.
Gardner is a free agent coming off a surprisingly strong season – if you didn’t notice. The 36 year old outfielder stole 10 bases, the lowest mark he’s ever had in a season of 40 or more games played. He also hit .251, slightly below his .260 career mark. But he socked a career best 28 homers, drove in a career best 74 runs and scored 86 times (his 7th straight year with 80 runs scored). Do you know how many players have scored 80-runs in 7-straight seasons? Short list. It’s Gardner and Mike Trout.
Masahiro Tanaka is set to have bone spurs removed from his elbow via surgery. Tanaka actually tossed a 3-year high 182 innings on the season, though the drop in his K/9 rate down to 7.37 is troubling. He still isn’t walking anyone, 1.98 per nine, but the WHIP swelled a bit to a career worst tying 1.24, still solid of course, as his swinging strike rate dipped to a career worst at 10.7 percent. He’s still a usable piece in fantasy, but there are limitations to that statement, and now we have an arm issue to at least think about. He’s a guy to round out a staff until further notice.
Luke Voit is set to have core muscle surgery repair for an injury he tried to play through, extremely ineffectively. Give the man credit for trying to give it his all. He just wasn’t able to produce late in the year. If you look at his .263/.378/.464 slash line you would say he did some really solid work this season. But, on July 30th those numbers sat at .278/.392/.493. Plus, he had 19 homers at that time meaning that he hit a mere two homers his last 24 games. I admit to being wrong about what he would do this season on a per at-bat basis, at least until he was hurt. The next step for him is to sustain his success over a full season. If it’s anything like his work with the Yankees – which is .280-35-95-100 with a .901 OPS over 157 games – then we have a serious player in the game of fantasy.
Both players – Tanaka and Voit – are expected to be ready for Spring Training.
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