Don’t count on the NLCS winner being gassed for the World Series

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The Cards and Giants are beating each others’ brains out up until less than 48 hours before the World Series starts. Heck, if it rains tonight, maybe to within 24 hours.  As Buster Olney says, this has to be good for the Tigers, right?

For the Detroit Tigers, the drawn-out series between the Cards and Giants is all good, because the rotations of the NL teams will be left in a jumble, the bullpens taxed. The Tigers are lined up and all ready to go with Justin Verlander, et al.

Except the last time they were in the World Series it was set up very much like this. Detroit dispatched the Athletics in the 2006 ALCS in four games, with the last one being on October 14.  The Mets and Cardinals, in contrast, played a seven game series that ended on October 19.  The World Series began two days later, with the Tigers having had a full week to rest bodies and set up the rotation, with the Cardinals in a putative “jumble.”  And the Cardinals ended up winning that series in five games.

It’s quite possible that, yes, whoever comes out of the NLCS will be jumbled. And I imagine that after 2006 the Tigers learned some lessons about how to spend a long layoff (thus the scrimmages they’ve been playing against minor leaguers and such). But if history shows us anything it’s that we can’t really predict how layoffs and frantic run-ups to a series will play out.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.