The alleged beer thrower from the wildcard game has been charged with mischief. Of specific interest, I like how he is now no longer allowed to drink alcohol at all…..
Now lets, get into something that I wrote about last season in depth but unfortunately needs to be touch upon again, the name of the Cleveland baseball team. Last summer you might remember The Five Hundreds writing about how perplexing it was that the Cleveland sports team hadn’t changed its name yet, and the irony of a team that plays in Progressive Field having the most racist name in sports. While the team publically claims they are working to distance themselves from their offensive mascot and the name in subtle ways, in their series clinching game against the Red Sox they still wore hats adorned with Chief Wahoo on the front.
Hopefully the public ridicule they are receiving as a result of their recent success would help the team seriously look at rebranding to something less offensive to so many Indigenous people. I very much support Jerry Howarth’s ban on the team name, which he has had in place since 1992. I already have done as much with the Washington football team and will do my best to do the same with Cleveland.
This isn’t to sit on a soapbox and make this a “Canada is better” type of argument that so often dots sports or social issues across the boarder. Canadians know we have plenty of work to do on this issue at home. It is simple a reflection on the fact that a team name is blatantly offensive to so many people, and now is a fitting time for it to be permanently changed to something that brings together the local community in a more inclusive manner.
Mood in Song Form
I am heading down to Cleveland to catch game 1 and 2 of the series. While I am slightly concerned about the level of hospitality my Jays gear will garner me, at the end of the day this team has me too fired up to worry about a beer being tossed my way. I suspect the Cleveland fans will be just fine as I assume they are still celebrating their NBA championship, but I will report back next week.
Let’s preview the ALCS!
While the Jays rolled over the Rangers in three games, the starters were not nearly as sharp as I had hoped. While Estrada was essentially flawless, Happ battled all day, and Sanchez gave up 6 runs in less than 6 innings of work. Stroman hasn’t seen action since the Wild Card win.
When I first watched game 2, it felt like Happ was throwing his fastball significantly more than normal. While he played with fire and gave up a ton of hits, he didn’t give up anything big, or for extra bases. It was a wet day in Texas, so my thought was grip was maybe an issue for him with off-speed pitches. Upon further review, Happ threw fastball on 73% of his pitches during the regular season, and threw it 73% of the time in game 2. So its possible that he used it in unusual situations to try and get outs with two strikes, or its possible that The Rangers just hit him well. The forecast is pretty nice for Saturday in Cleveland, so I suspect Happ will look like his old self.
Sanchez got a little unlucky early in that game giving up an opening walk and getting squeezed on some good pitches that he didn’t get called for strikes. As a young pitcher it was the perfect storm for a difficult outing coming out a little bit too hyped and not getting any luck. The good news is that his arm still looks alive and he looks comfortable throwing 100 pitches in October. This series the Jays will move him to 4th in the rotation so he will only pitch in one game, but certainly the concerns about wear and tear aren’t showing in his performance.
Cleveland’s starting rotation would not be considered the strength of their team at this point. Injuries to Salazar and Carrasco have turned what was a really good group into a rag tag bunch. Fortunately for Ohio, the rotation is still anchored by 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. While the Jays have hit him pretty well this season, Kluber is likely the class of all of the pitchers in this series (assuming Sanchez only gets one go). I think Cleveland is going to need him to go 2-0 in this series to have a shot, because the difference in quality in the potential match ups for games 2-4 weigh heavily in the Jays favor.
Advantage: Blue Jays. The depth of this rotation is a luxury in a 7 game series. They still have to perform well, but it stacks up nicely.
These two lineups couldn’t be more different. The Jays pack a considerable amount of power from top to bottom, and it was on full display last week. With Edwin and Donaldson hitting everything, and the bottom of the lineup getting on base, it made you pause and wonder why we haven’t scored more runs during the season. More logically, it is unlikely that JD and Carerra are going to continue to hit .500 all playoffs (although I don’t want to rule it out…). Even if players regress back to their season averages, given the starting pitching of the Cleveland staff, there should be ample opportunities for the Jays to generate runs.
Cleveland prefers death by a thousand paper cuts. They have speed on the base paths, and the ability to generate runs in bunches without hitting the ball out of the yard. They are much like the KC Royals of a year ago in their ability to score 3 runs on you before you realize what has happened. Their offensive output is wildly underrated, but after two battling series this summer I don’t see the Jays underestimating it.
Advantage: Blue Jays. While Cleveland has an underrated offense, lets not jump the shark here. This Jays lineup strikes fear into opponent’s hearts, and if they perform anywhere close to how they did against Texas they will be very hard to beat.
The Jays will be with Liriano for game 1, although all reports suggest that he will be available for game 2, and the remainder of the series. This is a key matchup for the Jays in this series, as Cleveland has Andrew Miller capable of going multiple innings on the other side. Lefties will be important for the Jays, but maybe less so than usual. Cleveland has 4 switch hitters in the lineup; so going to a lefty out of the pen is mitigated a little bit. Typically this would be an advantage to the hitting team to have such a luxury, but given how right hand heavy the Jays are I somehow feel it is mitigated.
While the Jays pen performed really well in the ALDS, if Cleveland is going to compete in this series it will be because of their backend. Andrew Miller, Shaw, and Allen all present good options. In fact, depending on how game 3 goes, Terry Francona may elect to go with a committee of relievers in game 4 over a traditional starter. Not only is this group incredibly skilled, Francona deserves extensive credit for the way he deploys them. Unlike rolling out specific pitchers for the 8th inning, instead he chooses to play match ups, or use his highest value pitchers in unconventional spots if the opposing teams lineup warrants it. While it opens him up to getting ripped by some in the baseball media, it is exactly how a bullpen should be managed.
Advantage: Cleveland. And it is a pretty big advantage. The Jays are going to need runs early, and the Osuna Grilli Biagini combo to keep rolling.
Prediction: Jays in 6
Kluber presents a problem for the Jays, but the opportunities past him are substantial. Assuming Kluber were able to take games 1 and 5, I have a hard time finding two more for Cleveland to take. I like the Jays in 6 games to punch their ticket to the World Series and send the city into an even higher level of hysteria.