Cleveland and…?

This much we know, Tuesday will be a pretty magical night in Cleveland. Not only will the World Series start on the banks of Lake Erie, but the Cavaliers will raise their championship banner when they open the NBA season against the New York Knickerbockers.

But which NL team will be there as an opponent?  Before last night I think the smart money was on LA. Now it has shifted to Chicago, but should it have?

Jon Lester is a wonderful pitcher, especially in the postseason, but Kenta Maeda has had a great “rookie” year. And the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw looming for a Game 6 start and you can bet a Game 7 relief appearance.

So don’t punch that Cubs World Series ticket just yet. But one thing is for sure, the next two or three games of the NLCS should be a lot of fun.

A Tale of Two Seasons

If you are going to evaluate the Yankees’ season, you have to divide it into two parts. The first part is everything that happened before August 1st, and the second part is everything that happened from that point forward. Some will quibble that July 25th, the day they traded Chapman, should be the line. But I would argue that the team didn’t embrace a full rebuild until the 1st when they traded Miller and Beltran. By sending those two away for prospects, the Yankees truly committed to a new way of doing business.

Now if you compare the two “halves” you will find the Yankees actually did better once they started their rebuild. They went 52-52 before it with an offense scoring 4.03 runs per game and a pitching staff/defense allowing 4.35.  Afterwards they went 32-26 with an offense scoring 4.83 runs per game and a pitching staff/defense allowing 4.63.

So, you could say the offense got better while the pitching got worse and the overall result was better. If you think about what happened, that makes sense. The Yankees found a hotter hitter than Beltran. Lost a terrible hitter in A-Rod and added some sparks here and there throughout the lineup. On the pitching side they subtracted two huge bullpen pieces, lost Eovaldi to injury, and had to start rookies a lot over the final few weeks.

Now if the Yankees could play next year at the same clip they played since August 1st, they would win 89 games, putting them right in the thick of the playoff race. (It would have earned them the top wild card this year) But of course you can’t just extrapolate things like that. Furthermore, the Yankees have a lot of more work to do if they are going to take this team and turn it into a perennial contender again. Let’s talk more about that tomorrow.

Checking My Predictions

Every April I make my baseball predictions, every October I sort through the rubble of those predictions. This year I wasn’t terrible.

My worst prediction was picking Baltimore for last in the AL East-whoops!  I got half the AL playoff field correct, but none of the division winners  I had picked Toronto, KC, and Houston to win their divisions with Cleveland and Texas as the wild cards. I also picked Houston to make the World Series.

My NL picks were much better.  I struggled again picking division winners, only correctly identifying the Cubs, but I picked every NL playoff team except for the Dodgers.  I also had the Cubs going to, and winning, the World Series.  As someone who comes from a family filled with Cubs fans, that’s where my loyalties will lie this October.

As for the real playoffs, the fields are set.  Baltimore heads to Toronto on Tuesday with the winner going to Texas.  The Mets host the Giants on Wednesday with the winner headed to Chicago.  Boston travels to Cleveland  and LA travels to Washington in the other two series. (Sidebar- what would have happened if Boston won today because they would have been tied in the win column with Cleveland, but 1/2 a game behind because of the Cleveland rain out Thursday.  Would MLB have made Cleveland and Detroit make that game up since home field would have gone to Boston if the two teams were tied?)

I will have a review of the Yankees season tomorrow.