Looking at the early season schedule

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Buster Olney runs down the early season schedules for the AL East today, trying to figure out who may get out to a fast start, who may falter early and all of that.  Interesting enough, but his premise doesn’t do much for me:

Last year, you could look at the early-season schedules and make a couple of forecasts. First, the Toronto Blue Jays
appeared to have a great chance to get off to a strong start because
they didn’t have to dive into the AL Beast portion of their schedule —
with games against the Yankees and Red Sox and Rays — until May.

And
second, the schedule appeared to work against Tampa Bay, because of how
top-heavy it was with games against AL powerhouses. Sure enough, the
Blue Jays got off to a great start, and the Rays fell into a hole that
they were never really able to dig out of. This stuff is a big deal, because early-season performance and
perception, in the spring, can help shape attendance in summer. A
strong start will also fuel a team’s market aggressiveness, as
executives decide whether to be buyers.

I think this sort of thing is overstated.  Yes, the Jays started well last year on the strength of an easy early schedule, but it didn’t boost attendance. Toronto drew its lowest crowds in six years and among the lowest since the move to Sky Dome. And it didn’t stop the team from assessing where it was on the success cycle, trading Alex Rios and shopping Roy Halladay all summer. And what about Tampa Bay? Sure, they started out tough, but the were treading water pretty well until they took a six game plunge in the standings in August while not facing either Boston or New York.

The beauty of baseball’s
schedule is that over the course of 162 games there really is nowhere
to hide and no way to game the fans into thinking that you’re something
you’re not.  Injuries and the lucky convergence of a team getting good pitching, good hitting and good fielding at roughly the same time are schedule-free considerations.

Thanks to Buster for pointing out something interesting, but let’s leave strength of schedule arguments — which invariably lead to whining — to the lesser sports.

Brewers, Dodgers announce lineups for NLCS Game 7

Jhoulys Chacin
AP Images
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It’s winner-take-all tonight. The Brewers are out for their first National League pennant in franchise history, while the Dodgers will look to secure back-to-back pennant wins for the first time since 1977-78. Taking the mound: Right-handers Jhoulys Chacín and Walker Buehler, both of whom were last seen in Game 3 of the NLCS. Chacín fired 5 1/3 shutout innings of three-hit, six-strikeout ball to secure his second win of the 2018 postseason, while Buehler took his first loss after allowing four runs and striking out eight over seven innings.

Here are the lineups for Game 7:

Dodgers

1. Joc Pederson (L) LF
2. Max Muncy (L) 1B
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Walker Buehler (R) P

David Freese will sit out of the Dodgers’ series finale, though he could be brought in later to pinch-hit. In his place, Max Muncy will shift from second to first base, with Chris Taylor covering second and Joc Pederson slotting into the left field corner and batting leadoff. Taylor and Puig have also swapped places in the batting order, with Puig getting bumped up to the no. 6 spot for Saturday’s game.

Brewers

1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Christian Yelich (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 2B
5. Jesús Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
7. Erik Kratz (R) C
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Jhoulys Chacín (R) P

Not surprisingly, there are no changes on the Brewers’ end here. They’ll try to replicate yesterday’s 7-2 stunner as they face off against Walker Buehler for a World Series berth.

Game time is scheduled for 8:09 PM EDT at Miller Park.