Chicago Cubs: 4. Gatorade water cooler: 0. The Chicago Cubs cruised to a relatively-easy victory last night (and my personal third straight winner) behind the sheer brilliance of Jake Arrieta whose complete-game four-hitter marked the second straight times the Pirates were blanked in the wildcard game. But the most enjoyable take-away from the game was the absurd/hilarious round of sparring that Sean Rodriguez went with the Gatorade cooler in the dugout. You, being readers of my drivel, probably already know what happened last night, but just in case, google some of the hilarious memes (after reading our site, of course).
For the record, when asked what Jake Arrieta’s pitch count was, Joe Maddon replied “infinity.” Love that guy…
We are now set with our playoff matchups, as well as World Series odds. There’s some good value in those futures, especially given the insanity of baseball postseason. Last year featured a pair of wildcard winners and a World Series in which neither team won 90 games. Already this year, two road teams have won wildcard games. It’s a wacky sport, and it’s going to be a really fun four weeks.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Astros +128 at Kansas City Royals -137 (Total: 7.5)
Collin McHugh (19-7, 3.89 ERA) vs. Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA)
There’s something a little odd about the fact that WHO would start Game One was not a certainty for either top seed in the playoffs. The Royals are giving the ball to Yordano Ventura, who certainly has the talent of an ace, even if he lacks the coinciding resume. Honestly, I cannot think of a top-seeded playoff team who threw a guy with an ERA over four in Game One – especially intentionally (I’m sure there have been some teams that HAD to throw their top guy in the last game of the season to clinch, etc.). This is a conscious choice by the Royal – THIS guy is OUR guy.
If it sounds like I am down on the Royals a bit, I suppose I am. I wouldn’t be surprised if Houston wins this series and I WOULD be surprised if the Royals (assuming they advance) beat the Blue Jays or even hung around with them for more than five games. Kansas City had such a HUGE division lead that they played without any real pressure all summer long. However, their closing stretch leaves a lot to be desired.
Houston has won seven of the last nine meetings between these two teams and held the Royals to two or less runs in six of the nine games. However, I am a little reluctant to give Houston the huge pitching edge just because McHugh is 19-7. His ERA is nearly four, so a lot of his success is a function of the Houston offense.
Which brings me to my takeaway from tonight’s matchup. Ventura has been good in his last three outings, posting a 1.80 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. However, I like this Houston lineup to have some success against him, especially working a few walks to get some runners on base and get him out of his comfortable rhythm.
I’ll take the bats today over the pitchers. Two good offenses get a chance to face to non-typical Game One starters and I think they’ll enjoy it.