Still too early to worry about faltering aces

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The ERA leaderboard, organized greatest to least, is a bit of a shocker. At the top you’ll find both of the defending Cy Young award winners (David Price and R.A. Dickey), as well as Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Stephen Strasburg, among others. You’ll hear this a lot but it bears repeating: it’s still very early, so you can’t really trust the stats yet.

I went back to starters’ first  three starts in 2012 and found some surprising ERA outliers as well, then I researched how they fared over the rest of the season. A small selection of elite hurlers:

(ERA-3 = ERA through three starts; ERA-RoS = rest-of-season ERA)

Player ERA-3 ERA-RoS
Adam Wainwright 9.88 3.50
Max Scherzer 7.98 3.38
Josh Johnson 5.94 3.61
R.A. Dickey 5.71 2.50
CC Sabathia 5.59 3.14
Zack Greinke 5.09 3.33
David Price 4.20 2.43

This exercise can be repeated for any group of players. Just to name a few on the hitting side: Matt Holliday had a .602 OPS after the first two weeks last year, but bounced back and posted a .908 OPS the rest of the way. Jay Bruce went from .679 in the first two weeks to .859 the rest of the way. Giancarlo Stanton went from .642 in the first two weeks to 1.010 through the end of the season.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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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
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

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.