Kevin Kernan’s column at the New York Post today is a treat. It praises the Red Sox’ approach and basically says “the Yankees and Mets need to do what the Red Sox just did if they want to win the World Series.”
Which, yes, I will agree 100% that if the Yankees and Mets want to win the World Series they SHOULD do what the Sox just did: they should win four World Series games before their World Series opponents do. That’s really the only way to do it.
Kernan, of course, is not saying that. He’s saying that they should sign “the right players.” Players who care about championships. Players like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes. Not players like the Yankees signed who are just in it for the personal records and accolades. One he mentions by name is Kevin Youkilis. Let’s just forget that Kevin Youkilis has two World Series rings of his own. I’m sure he stopped caring about winning some time ago.
Kernan also says that RBIs is “the most important statistic” and that “spreadsheet baseball does not win championships.” Let’s just forget that the Red Sox front office is one of the most forward-thinking, sabermetrically-oriented front offices around. A front office that employs the man who literally coined the term “sabermetrics” in Bill James. I have no idea how significant James’ role is these days, but I would imagine that if a Red Sox employee said either of those things Kernan said every eyebrow in the office would raise.
Mostly, though, I love how certain Kernan is that “the Red Sox” approach is so easily replicable. He himself said back in February, when assessing the Sox’ prospects, that “Those 2004 and 2007 World Series titles seem so far away.” He didn’t know that Victorino and Gomes were “the right players” then. As such, to suggest that the Yankees or the Mets should have known better at the time is hindsight in the extreme.
All of the “do what the Red Sox” did analysis is. No one, except maybe the Red Sox themselves, thought they had put together a World Series team after last winter was over. They made signings that turned out better than most people expected them to be. They had good fortune as do all teams who win championships. It wasn’t a miracle season or even highly improbable as this was probably the best team on paper as the playoffs began. But nor was their 2013 season one that lends itself to blueprints and prescriptions of which teams like the Yankees and Mets should take notice.
Every teams’ situation is different. To look at the team that just had its victory parade two days ago and say “do it like THAT” is useless at best, and probably closer to the preposterous.
Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.
deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.
In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.
Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.
deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.
Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.
Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.