How bad is a 3-1 deficit?

7 Comments

How bad is a 3-1 deficit in the World Series? So bad that only five teams* have come back from being down 3-1 to win it all: the 1925 Pirates, 1958 Yankees, 1968 Tigers, 1979 Pirates, and 1985 Royals. Is there any hope for the Rangers to take away from history here?

  • Like Texas, that 1925 Pirates team was also shut out in Game 4. But unlike the Rangers, they got to play Games 6 and 7 at home. There were also multiple weather delays in this series, and Game 7 was played in driving rain, leading to AL MVP Roger Peckinpaugh to commit two costly errors at shortstop late, leading to four unearned runs which handed the Pirates victory.
  • In 1958, Whitey Ford pitched Game 6 on two days rest for the Yankees. If Cliff Lee wins it tonight, he might be a better option on one day’s rest than C.J. Wilson would be heading back to San Francisco, what with the blister and all.
  • Tim McCarver was an important part of the 1968 Cardinals team that woofed away a 3-1 lead to the Tigers. I wonder if we’ll hear much about that during tonight’s broadcast?
  • In 1979, the Pirates’ comeback was aided in the pivotal Game 5 by Bert Blyleven, who pitched four scoreless innings out of the pen. Too bad he never pitched any important games that could bolster his Hall of Fame case or anything.
  • The 1985 Royals, you may recall, had a bit of help clawing back from their 3-1 deficit.

The 1925 and 1958 comebacks aren’t all that instructive here, because it really was a different game then. After all, no Rangers pitcher is going to make two starts in the final three games of this one, not even for all the Burma Shave in the world. 1985 was rather freaky as well, as the Cardinals got boned on the Denkinger call.

That leaves the Rangers with the example of the 1968 Tigers and the 1979 Pirates. Can Colby Lewis channel his inner Mickey Lolich? Will Andres Torres badly misplay a ball in center like Curt Flood? Are the Rangers Fam-i-ly like those Willie Stargell Pirates were? I don’t think it would be right to say there was no chance at all, but boy howdy, the odds are certainly against them.

*The 1903 Boston Red Sox came back from a 3–1 deficit, but that was back when the Series was a best-of-nine thing.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
Getty Images
8 Comments

Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.