ALCS Goes Sideways, NLCS Nearing Close, Ump Absurdity, Pitching Prospects, Game Time, and Other Cubs Bullets

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ALCS Goes Sideways, NLCS Nearing Close, Ump Absurdity, Pitching Prospects, Game Time, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I can’t say it enough: I’m sorry about any site-related bugs and issues you’ve experienced this week. Hopefully things are resolved now for most of you, but if you aren’t seeing updated home page or category pages yet, you may have to do a manual clear of your browser’s cache and cookies, and then restart your browser. So far that’s worked for folks who’ve experienced that issue this week. Fingers crossed.

•   The LCS games last night wound up the blowout variety, with the Astros thumping the Red Sox, and then the Braves taking it to the Dodgers. For the Astros, it makes for a 3-2 series lead as the ALCS goes back to Houston:

•   I guess I won’t say “poor Red Sox fans” since they’ve had a really nice run the last couple decades, but they are DEFINITELY going to be thinking about the Nate Eovaldi strike that wasn’t called for a long time. That might be a rare instance where you can point to the PRECISE moment a playoff series went from 100% in one direction to 100% in the other direction. The Red Sox were right there on the cusp of 3-1 with another game at home, and now it’s 3-2 Astros going back to Houston. That might be that. Game Six is Friday night at 7pm CT.

•   Speaking of umpires for the postseason, it seems that seniority is a problem:

•   Over in the NLCS, the Braves did not blow a lead this time around, pouring it on late against the Dodgers:

•   Big Former Cub Pitcher Energy in that game, as it was started by former Cub Jesse Chavez, who was followed by former Cub (he was!) Drew Smyly, who together covered the first 4.1 innings (which might as well be a combined complete game in this postseason).

•   So that’s now a 3-1 series lead for the Braves in the NLCS (Game Five is tonight at 7pm CT), and what a story they continue to be. How about this group:

•   Wanna talk about a scouting and player development home run? This is a guy who, despite this profile, was in the big leagues within three years:

•   Valdez, now 27, was an up-and-down depth guy for the Astros in 2018 and 2019, and then started to emerge as a regular rotation guy in 2020. Then he really broke out in 2021 as a very good starting pitcher (3.14 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 134.2 IP, . So in addition to being a huge scouting and player development win overall, he’s also a fantastic example of how a guy can keep developing even in an up-down capacity. Even as recently as mid-2019, when he was already into up-downing, he was still only a fringe top 20 prospect in the Astros’ system.

•   Each game last night was a lightning fast three and a half hours-ish, which is quite zippy for this postseason, where four hour games have become the troubling norm:

•   Although I’ve long been someone banging the drum about these issues with the game, my thing has primarily been pace of action, rather than length of game. So long as we kept working to cut out the dead time – and get more balls in play! more action on the field! – I wasn’t as worried about whether games got long. But seeing this postseason, reading that article, and thinking about how developing sports fans could sit down and watch a Bulls or a Blackhawks game in two or two and a half hours … maybe I should be a little more concerned with the length getting out of control.

•   Baseball will *ALWAYS* be different than the timed sports, and that’s a FEATURE not a bug. I like that there’s no clock in a traditional sense, and teams can always come back. But having a PITCH clock is not the same thing, and I think it’s time to bring that one up to the big leagues. It’s the easiest way to cut out pure dead time, and also shrink the time of the game. It’s just asking too much of developing fans – heck, even a lot of long-term fans! – to carve out four hours to watch a game. It’s not reasonable, and it’s not smart long-term. I’ve said my piece. Come scream at me.

•   There have been rumors that a minor physical issue in the spring of 2020 (I think that’s when) wound up becoming a major case of the yips for Padres pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore, and a very brief 2021 minor league season that featured walk rates approaching 20% did nothing to quell those rumors. He’s out in Arizona now pitching in the AFL, and …

•   This is a guy who was one of those inner-circle, holy-lock, top five prospects just two years ago. A guy with FOUR plus pitches, who was OBVIOUSLY going to be at least a mid-rotation arm in the big leagues within a year or two, and had clear ace upside. Now I have no idea what’s going on. I mean, just last offseason – even after those rumors – it would’ve been nuts to think about the Cubs getting Gore in a Yu Darvish trade. It was silly to even suggest. Now I wonder if the Padres wish they could’ve gone that route! That’s how crazy this fall has been. That said: if it isn’t a physical issue, then you’re still talking about a guy with tons of arm talent who is only 22. I can’t see the Padres leaving him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft this year, and if they did, I can’t see some rebuilding club not taking a hail mary swing on parking him in the bullpen for a year while he works on mechanics.

•   Consider it the annual reminder on prospects (heck, players really) – there are no absolutely, definitely sure things.

•   Tons and tons of watches are your Epic Daily Deals at Amazon. #ad

•   I love these shots, and this uniform is spot on. Bring it back:

•   Oof, this is exactly like when Javy Báez lost his earring out there. Somebody go find them:

•   The Bulls opened with a win last night for the first time in a long time:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.