October 12, 2007

& PRAY FOR RAIN:

Why the Indians will beat the Red Sox (Ryan Richards, October 12, 2007, Hardball Times)

Next up for the Cleveland Indians is the Boston Red Sox, a team that mirrors themselves: a stellar pitching staff, and a good offense. There are subtle differences between the rosters of both teams (which I’ll explore later), but nothing that really jumps out. I think this ALCS will come down to the individual performances of the players, and not any big talent advantage. The most interesting matchups occur between Boston’s and Cleveland’s top two starters:

Game 1

Boston's ace is Josh Beckett, one of the front runners for this year's Cy Young award. Beckett rebounded from a disastrous 2006 season, slicing his walks, increasing strikeouts, and halving his home runs allowed. This is the guy Boston thought they were getting from Florida after the 2005 season. In his ALDS start, he shut down the Angels, pitching a complete game four-hitter.

Cleveland counters with its own Cy Young candidate, C.C. Sabathia. C.C.'s been building towards this season for a couple years now, getting better with control while at the same time missing more bats. This season is the culmination of that process; he made 34 starts, averaging seven innings per appearance. He threw 241 innings this season, and lead the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.65). So it was very surprising when Sabathia barely got through five innings in his ALDS start against the Yankees. He walked six, and had to throw 114 pitches just to qualify for a victory. Sabathia's wildness may have had to do with a small strike zone, but Boston's lineup drew the most walks in the AL this season, so he'll have to throw more and better strikes to stick around longer than his last start.

Game 2

The Red Sox started Daisuke Matsuzaka in Game 2 of the ALDS, but for the Championship Series opted for Curt Schilling instead. Curt's not a power pitcher any longer, but he's successfully made the transition to finesse artist without too much trouble. He's been especially good in September, allowing nine runs in his four starts (3.16 ERA). He also had little trouble with the Angels, shutting them out over seven innings in the ALDS clincher.

Facing Schilling is Fausto Carmona, who allowed the Yankees just one run and three hits in nine innings of work. He may have the best pitch in baseball right now: a mid-90s sinker that moves drastically down and in to right handed hitters. Carmona is also a Cy Young candidate, and just missed winning the ERA title.

The above matchups are critical to the Indians’ success; offensive production won’t come as easily to the Indians in this series, and I like Boston’s back of the rotation better than Cleveland’s. So Sabathia and Carmona need to have good performances to keep the series within reach.


If they can get four starts out of those two the Tribe can certainly win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2007 12:00 AM
Comments

how do you like dem apples?
But, isn't anyone scared of the roxtobers, I mean, 19 out of 20, in Sep and Oct, against the best the NL has to offer, came back from 5 games down in the wild card. The story goes like this, Helton took his team into a scrum in the bottom of the 12th against Trevor and told them don't swing at the first few pitches, be patient, because, paraphrasing, he wanted to get to a world series before it was over for him.

I am scared of the roxtobers. it's nice that another moneyball team, the diamondbacks made it to the pennant series, furthering the lines of theo and company, as well as the grandfather, billy beane, but, come on, let's have it out with the roxtobre's.

Posted by: neil at October 12, 2007 9:28 PM
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