A lot of people are playing the “what if” game with respect to the Red Sox lately, mostly in terms of “what if they didn’t have all those damn injuries.” Would they be in the thick of the AL East right now instead of hanging by a thread? In the lead? How bad has the injury bug really harmed their status as contenders?
ESPN’s (and Baseball Think Factory’s!) Dan Szymborski figured that rather than just talking it up and down all day like some sports radio goon that he’d try to figure it out. Over at the WWL today (sorry, Insider only), he does his best to break out the difference in performance between the expected starters and the dudes who have replaced them in 2010.
The verdict: while acknowledging that there’s all kinds of alchemy and magic and unexpected and unintended consequences when imperfect human beings are your variables, Dan figures the replacements have cost the Sox about four wins. That would have them closer, sure, but not quite as high up the standings as some people in Boston probably believe.
Neat exercise, though, so if you have Insider, by all means, check it out.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.