Brewers, Dodgers look to close out Division Series sweeps

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The Brewers eked out one win and shut out the Rockies for another. The Dodgers have thoroughly dominated the Braves in two contests. Both Milwaukee and Los Angeles can close out their Division Series with a win today and guarantee themselves four full days off and a rotation reset before the NLCS kicks off on Friday.

Colorado and Atlanta will do what they can to stop that, but the odds favor sweeps in this instance and overwhelmingly favor a Dodgers-Brewers NLCS.

As Dayn Perry of CBS Sports noted the other day, between the old LCS format and the current Division Series format, there have been 78 best-of-five series that have started off with one team winning the first two games. On only 10 occasions has the team down 0-2 come back to win the series. Heck, the team down 0-2 has only come back to win even one game 32 times. Meaning that, historically, series like these have ended in sweeps 59% of the time and have ended with the team down 0-2 winning it 12.8% of the time.

Stranger things have happened. Just not very often. So: temper your expectations Rockies and Braves fans.

Your viewing guide:

NLDS Game 3

Brewers vs. Rockies
Ballpark: Coors Field
Time: 4:37 PM Eastern
TV: MLB Network
Pitchers: Wade Miley vs. German Marquez

Between the tiebreaker game against the Dodgers, the Wild Card game against the Cubs and the first two games of this series, the Rockies’ bats have been as quiet as church mice for a week. When you tune in today and see Wade Miley on the hill for Milwaukee, you may think that this is the game the Rockies will bust out their whuppin’ sticks. Don’t bet too much on that, because 2018 Wade Miley has been a different beast than the tomato can he had been for the past couple of seasons.

Miley began the season injured and then spent some more time on the DL after a couple of starts, but in 16 starts since coming back at full power he has posted a 2.57 ERA while cutting back dramatically on the walks that plagued him in Baltimore last year and so very often in his previous stops. He throws a cutter now, which he didn’t before, and it has reduced his reliance on the straight fastball which hitters sat on. It also helps that, due to his time on the disabled list in the first half, he’s a lot fresher right now than he’d normally be late in the season. Whether that’ll help him overcome Coors Field is unknown, but know that Miley has been an asset for Milwaukee even if he was a liability for his teams in the past.

Marquez, who started and lost Monday in the tiebreaker game, is pitching on an extra day’s rest and, that less-than-lovely start vs. the Dodgers notwithstanding, has pitched excellently down the stretch. In his past 13 starts, the tiebreaker game included, Marquez is 6-3 with a 2.25 ERA, 17 walks and 118 strikeouts in 88 innings while limiting opponents to a .204 average. The Rockies will need the stretch Marquez — and would really love to see the 2017 version of Miley — to extend their season.


NLDS Game 3

Dodgers vs. Braves
Ballpark: SunTrust Park
Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports 1
Pitchers: Walker Buehler vs. Sean Newcomb

The Braves joined a super exclusive club on Friday night, becoming just the second team to get shut out in the first two games of a postseason series. The good news: the last club which had that happen to them, the 1921 Giants, went on to win that World Series. The bad news: it was a best-of-nine series, so they had way more of a margin for error. And let me tell you brother, I do not see High Pockets Kelly coming through that door.

On the mound for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler, who had a 2.03 ERA in the second half, pitched shutout ball into the seventh on Monday in Game 163 against the Rockies and who beat the Braves when he faced them back in June when the Braves were scoring runs in buckets. Even if he has less-than-his best stuff, the Dodgers’ pen is rested as any postseason pen will ever be and, given that a victory would give them four days off, Dave Roberts has the luxury of using as many different arms as he wants to lock this one down and not have too worry too much about tomorrow.

The Braves changed up expectations by calling on Sean Newcomb rather than Kevin Gausman as many expected. Newcomb pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1 and, back in late July took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Dodgers. Manager Brian Snitker said that Newcomb’s history against the Dodgers played into his decision to go with him in Game 3. That’s fine I guess — and it’s not like in picking Newcomb over Gausman is like sitting Sandy Koufax for Howie Reed in the 1965 World Series —  but I don’t know that a couple of appearances makes all that much of a difference.

Really, nothing will make much of a difference here other than the Braves’ bats waking up. If they don’t, they may as well have Howie Reed on the mound tonight. And he’s been dead for 34 years.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.