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CC Sabathia on Ángel Hernández: ‘He shouldn’t be anywhere near these playoff games’

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Yankees starter CC Sabathia and umpire Ángel Hernández don’t get along very well. In late April, Sabathia had a frustrating start in which he barked at Hernández, “Don’t talk to me. Call f–king strikes!”

As fate would have it, Hernández was behind the plate calling balls and strikes for Sabathia’s ALDS Game 4 start against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. If the Yankees lost, they would be eliminated from the postseason and the Red Sox would move on to the ALCS to face the Astros.

In Hernández’s defense, his ball- and strike-calling was decent and didn’t impact Sabathia’s lack of success in Game 4. Of course there were a few debatable calls but there are always a few no matter who the umpire is, and none came in high-leverage situations. Sabathia served up a three-spot in the third inning before departing. Overall, he gave up the three runs on five hits and two walks with one strikeout on 59 pitches.

After the game, Sabathia went off on Hernández. Per Newsday’s Tim Healey, Sabathia said, “He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting jobs umpiring in these playoff games.”

More from Sabathia, per Healey:

Paired with his subpar showing as a first base umpire in Game 3, it hasn’t been a great couple of days for Hernández. He has long been one of baseball’s least popular umpires. Even in just in the last two years, we have covered Sabathia, Anthony Rizzo, and Ian Kinsler taking issue with Hernández. Former players Chipper Jones and Paul LoDuca were among the players tweeting along with Game 3 last night and using the opportunity to criticize Hernández. And if the responses I saw to my post last night are any indication, he doesn’t have very many supporters among baseball fans, either.

All this being said, Sabathia probably could’ve picked a better time to gripe about Hernández. Doing so immediately after one’s team has been eliminated from the postseason will make it seem like he’s just salty about losing and looking to lash out. Sabathia could have also phrased his concerns in a more diplomatic way if he were actually concerned with getting better umpiring crews for the playoffs.

When Rick Porcello, who opposed Sabathia in Game 4, caught wind of Sabathia’s comments, he said (via James Wagner of the New York Times), “Throw the ball over the plate C.C. I thought Ángel Hernández called a good game. You gotta out the ball over the white part of the plate and then you get the strikes called.”

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.