Playoff Miscellany: Indians on the Verge of a Sweep, Cubs Head to L.A.

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Playoff Miscellany: Indians on the Verge of a Sweep, Cubs Head to L.A.

Chicago Cubs

postseason 2016

The NLCS continues tonight, as the Dodgers host the Cubs in Los Angeles for the first of three straight games at Dodger Stadium.

Game 3 starts at 7:08 CT – we’ll have the usual pre-game posts for you later – as Jake Arrieta takes the ball against former Cub, Rich Hill (much more on him later, too).

With the series tied 1-1, this isn’t necessarily a must-win for either team, but you have to think the Cubs will want (desperately) to win as many games as possible that will have nothing to do with Clayton Kershaw.

Julio Urias is scheduled to take the ball tomorrow in Game 4, but Kershaw could conceivably come back as soon as Game 5 (and then as needed in relief in Games 6 and 7). In case you missed it, we had some fun on Twitter, recalling our postseason location record. Looks like we should probably head back to Yak-Zies, eh?

  • But let’s move on the American League, where the Cleveland Indians took a commanding 3-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS. With their 4-2 win over the Blue Jays last night, Cleveland’s odds of winning the ALCS and advancing to the World Series have increased to 92.8% according to FanGraphs – nearly insurmountable.
  • But just because the Indians won another one in a row, doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting. They jumped on Marcus Stroman for a run in the first, before ultimately adding two doubles, two homers, a stolen base, and four runs before the night was through.
  • Of course, they also sent a bloody Trevor Bauer to the mound to start the game:

  • I’m assuming you know by now how Bauer cut his finger, but in case you didn’t, he cut it playing with his drone. Which, yeah, that’s hilarious, but it did wind up requiring 10 stitches. He’s lucky it didn’t cost the Indians (who are already without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) any more games.
  • Despite his desired ruggedness, Bauer was removed from the game after a strikeout, a line out, and two walks in the first, when Blue jays Manager John Gibbons came out to talk to the umpires about the ridiculous amount of blood on the ball. Obviously, Bauer would prefer to pitch without a bleeding hand, but you can understand Gibbons’ justifiable motivations for raising the issue.
  • From there, the Indians bullpen trotted out six other pitchers – including another 1.1 IP appearance from Andrew Miller – to limit the usually potent Blue Jays offense to just two runs. The Blue Jays have now scored a total of just three runs through the first three games of the series – but is it all their fault?
  • According to Jose Bautista, the ALCS is rigged! Well, sorta. After the game he implied that the Indians’ pitchers have greatly benefited from a forgiving strike zone … but he’s “not trying to talk about” it, except when he continues talking about it. “Sometimes the elements and the circumstances that we have to deal with as hitters don’t go our way. I’m not really trying into that.” Adding that they rarely had to throw a single ball out over the plate, because the umpire was giving them strikes the Blue Jays weren’t getting.
  • Okay, so it’s not a problem to discuss the strike zone – it’s pretty annoying when players do it, but sometimes their questions are justified – which is why Craig Edwards took an analytical look at Bautista’s claims over at FanGraphs. What he found, however, was that the Indians were slightly more rewarded for pounding the corners than the Blue Jays, but were hardly a part of a grand conspiracy. In fact, Edwards points out that Bautista himself was the beneficiary of not one, but two huge non-strike calls against Andrew Miller on Friday night … before he ultimately struck out a few pitches later (Andrew Miller is good). That said, of all the pitches in the series, the most egregiously bad strike-call came against … you guessed it … Jose Bautista.
  • In the end, the Blue Jays added seven hits (including a triple and a homer) and four walks, but compiled just two runs (#Sequencing). A comeback is not impossible, it’s been done before, but the easy money is on the Cleveland Indians heading to the 2016 World Series. Game 4 is today at 3pm CT.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami