I’ve said that making playoff predictions is a sucker’s game. Anything can happen and anyone who says that the best team from the regular season is a lock to win the World Series is ignorant of recent history. That said, I’m having a hard time seeing who is going to pose a serious challenge to the Phillies.
Roy Halladay dominated the Brewers last night, allowing one run on four hits in eight innings while striking out nine. I suppose it’s possible that he broke a sweat, but they could probably just hang his jersey up in his locker for his next start without laundering it.
Overall, the Phillies have won five straight, with those five coming against two of their three potential playoff opponents, the Braves and Brewers. They also took two of three from Arizona in mid-August. Their season record against all of those teams is a bit more balanced than that, but even if the concept of recency is not a controlling one for purposes of the playoffs, it sure makes a hell of an impression.
Who’s gonna beat ’em? And how?
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.