Michael Wacha is your NLCS MVP

11 Comments

Wacha will go home as the MVP of the National League Championship Series, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. The 22-year-old rookie tossed 13.2 shutout innings over two starts against the Dodgers in Games 2 and 6, allowing just seven hits and two walks while striking out 13. Wacha, of course, pitched seven crucial innings in Game 6, the catalyst that sent the Cardinals to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Wacha has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Cardinals since making his Major League debut on May 30. He was their first round pick, going 19th overall in the 2012 draft. The Dodgers, coincidentally enough, picked Corey Seager one slot ahead of Wacha — though they are certainly not disappointed with their selection.

In three post-season starts, Wacha has gone at least six and two-thirds innings, has allowed no more than one run, and allowed five or fewer hits.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Wacha is the third rookie to win the MVP award in the League Championship Series and is the first since Livan Hernandez in 1997 with the Florida Marlins.

One more:

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
11 Comments

The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.