Yes, this Hot Stove drama is over. Jon Heyman of SI.com broke the news just under an hour ago, as Matt Holliday has agreed to a seven-year, $120 million contract with St. Louis. Holliday will receive $17 million per season, according to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, and a no-trade clause.
Holliday appeared on ESPN Radio just a short time ago confirming the signing, saying that it’s actually for $119 million, but there is some language that could push it to $120 million. But hey, what’s a million between friends? Either way, it’s the biggest contract in club history.
“I felt like it was a good fit for me an my family,” Holliday said on
the Doug Gottlieb show on ESPN. “I’m going back to the Cardinals. It
was very appealing to me. This has been a bit of a long process. There
are some emotional ups and downs that go with it. It hasn’t exactly
been a walk in the park.”
It’s not quite Mark Teixeira-money, but Scott Boras got his client over the $100 million threshold and then some. Likewise, it’s an important statement by the Cardinals organization, as they attempt to keep Albert Pujols in the fold after his current contract expires at the end of the 2011 season.
Some will wonder what other legitimate offers Boras actually had on the table for his client since the Mets clearly preferred Jason Bay all along, but in the end both sides needed each other too much for this not to happen.
For years, a bulk of the postseason coverage surrounding Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw focused on his poor results once the regular season ended. The three-time Cy Young Award winner carried a career 5.68 postseason ERA following his NLDS Game 1 start against the Diamondbacks last year, a sample size spanning 15 starts and four relief appearances totaling 95 1/3 innings.
Kershaw had a subpar start against the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series last year and the narrative hit a fever pitch. I dug into the numbers at that point and found that a not-insignificant portion of Kershaw’s playoff ERA could be attributed to relievers coming in after him and failing to strand their inherited runners. At the time of that writing (October 30, 2017), Dodger relievers allowed 10 of 16 runners inherited from Kershaw in the playoffs to score, a strand rate of 37.5 percent. That’s roughly half of the league average (around 75 percent).
Kershaw finished out the World Series last year by pitching four scoreless innings of relief in Game 7. He returned to the postseason, starting Game 2 of the NLDS against the Braves this year and tossed eight shutout frames on just two hits with no walks. The narrative should have died there, too. It, of course did not. As the Dodgers advanced to the NLCS, Kershaw got the Game 1 nod against the Brewers and struggled. The Brewers got him for five runs (four earned) across three-plus innings. One of those runs included a home run hit by the opposing pitcher (Brandon Woodruff). Kershaw was also hurt by a passed ball and catcher’s interference on the part of Yasmani Grandal in the third inning. Not a great outing, but not as bad as the line score read, either.
In Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday evening, Kershaw once again redeemed himself. He limited the Brewers this time around to a lone run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. The only run came around in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to center field. Kershaw’s career postseason ERA is now 4.11 and it would be much lower if his bullpen had, in the past, done its job more effectively.
According to Katie Sharp of The Athletic, tonight’s postseason start was Kershaw’s eighth in which he allowed one run or fewer and three hits or fewer. No other pitcher in baseball history has made more than five such starts. That’s partially a function of opportunity, as the Dodgers have been in the postseason every year dating back to 2013 as well as in 2008 and ’09. But Kershaw still has to go out there and make the pitches, and he largely has. The “Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative is dead. It never should have lived.