Rob Neyer

Moneyball and Rob

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Rob Neyer has a good post up this morning. It’s his impressions of “Moneyball.” Not a review — he doesn’t presume he can tell us what to think about a movie — but his reflections.  And they’re well worth your time.

Why? Because, as Rob notes, he provided a bit of assistance to Michael Lewis as he wrote Moneyball back in 2002-03, so it’s neat for him to see stuff he had a hand in make its way to the big screen.  Sort of like when I watch an episode of “The Rockford Files.” It’s like they filmed my life, ya know?

But it’s mostly worth the read because of Rob’s reflections about how, if the stuff being portrayed in that film didn’t happen — Bill James, the sabermetric movement, etc. — Rob’s own career as a baseball writer wouldn’t have happened.  Which, in turn, has some residual relevance for me because, if Rob’s career — and kindness — didn’t happen, mine wouldn’t have either.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s the absolute truth. No one reads ShysterBall if Rob doesn’t link it back in 2007, no one at The Hardball Times gives ShysterBall a bigger platform in 2008 if no one reads ShysterBall, and NBC doesn’t offer me a job in 2009 if ShysterBall wasn’t at The Hardball Times. I don’t really write about statistics and I’d be shot by the sabermetrician’s royal guard if I claimed to be one of them, but the lineage of people working outside of the established system to make a place for themselves in or around the game is pretty straightforward.

Oh, one more reason to read Rob’s piece: he makes a reference to “Porky’s 4: The Oinks Have it.” The screenplay for which I figure I should begin working on this very day. Quick: does anyone have Dan Monahan’s phone number?

The Mets are set to host the NL wild card game

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 01: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on October 1, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.

Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.

The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.

Indians’ postseason rotation is still up in the air

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16: Starting pitcher Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.

Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.

With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:

If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.