It all comes down to this. For the second straight year, the World Series will go the distance. The Dodgers and Astros will fight one last time on Wednesday night. To the victor goes the championship. The Astros are looking for their first ever championship. The Dodgers are looking for their first since 1988 and seventh overall (sixth since moving to Los Angeles).
Yu Darvish will start for the Dodgers and Lance McCullers will take the hill for the Astros, but all hands will be on deck for Game 7. The leashes will be short. Clayton Kershaw (who pitched 4 2/3 innings in Game 5) and Dallas Keuchel (3 2/3 innings in Game 5) will be available out of the bullpen, as will Game 4 starters Alex Wood and Charlie Morton. Game 6 starters Justin Verlander and Rich Hill could conceivably be used if necessary as well.
Darvish and McCullers last matched up in Game 3. Darvish couldn’t finish the second inning, ultimately on the hook for four runs in 1 2/3 innings. McCullers pitched into the sixth and ended up yielding three runs in 5 1/3 innings. The Astros went on to win 5-3.
Last year, in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, the Cubs used starter Jon Lester out of the bullpen in relief of Kyle Hendricks. The Indians used Trevor Bauer to get the last two outs of the top of the 10th inning. That provides a bit of a preview as to how managers A.J. Hinch and Dave Roberts could utilize their pitchers.
Baseball Reference notes that tomorrow’s game will be the 43rd World Series Game 7. The home team has gone 20-22 in those games.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?