Random observations from Game One

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Matthew’s live chat and Bob’s recap covered almost all you want to read about last night’s NLCS, but given that I watched the thing and my wife doesn’t like talking about baseball, I figured I was as share my observations as well:

We’ve taken your National League division champions and secretly
replaced them with the Red Sox and Yankees! Let’s see if anyone
notices! Four hours+. Lots of homers. Not my kind of game, but I
suppose the Phillies will take it.

As I said in my preview, I had thought that Kershaw would come out sharp and Hamels not so much.  Guess I was only half right. Both starters
struggled, with such struggles aided by what looked to my untrained eye
as a really poor effort by home plate umpire Randy Marsh. Kershaw later
said that he “failed to make adjustments” throughout the night. It
wasn’t the lack of adjustments to Phillies hitters that seemed to be
the problem, though. It was the adjustments he tried to make to Marsh
not giving him anything low in the strike zone.

But this can by no means be blamed on Marsh. You get lots of tough zones from umps throughout the season, and you just have to work with it.  Kershaw didn’t: he turned to
overthrowing and seemed to get frustrated. More experienced pitchers
would have probably stayed with their game and kept trying to drop that
backdoor pitch down low until Marsh finally started calling it. If he
did call it: great. If not? Well, at least you’re not getting shelled
for five runs and throwing three wild pitches like Kershaw did.

But even if the game didn’t turn on the umps. It did turn on the
strike zone. As in George Sherill’s inability to find it
against Howard and Werth in the eighth. After those walks, the fastball he threw to Ibanez
was an obvious get-me-over pitch, and Ibanez just stroked it. If Sherill wasn’t having control problems, there would be more life on that pitch, I suspect, because lefties just tend not to connect against him like that.

In light of last night, Game 2 brings a great chance to make Torre look
like the goat of the NLCS. The youngin’ in which he placed his trust
for Game 1 got beat up. If the lighting-in-a-bottle veteran he has tapped for Game 2 — Padilla —
reverts to Padillistic form, the story of the offday will be how L.A.
managed to all but lose the NLCS without Randy Wolf, Kuroda or
Billinglsey — the
dudes who staked them to a big lead back in the spring — ever throwing a pitch.

I’m not saying
it’s a fair storyline — I liked the Kershaw call — but it’ll be out
there.

Report: Marlins intent on adding a big-three reliever

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 28:  Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the 9th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 3-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.

As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.

The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.

A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.

Bryan Price likely to use Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen in closer’s role

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias throws in the first inning of their opening day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:

I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.

This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.

Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.

Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.

Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.