The most interesting postseason series resumes tonight amidst plenty of controversy. Chase Utley has been suspended for two games for his leg-breaking take-out slide on Ruben Tejada. And the media coverage has accordingly swarmed around Utley and the “dirty slide” vs. the “way the game is played.” But the REAL story is WHO steps into the void for the Mets who need to find a shortstop in short order and HOW will each team respond? Do the Mets come out vengeance-driven? Are we going to get guys plunked in the postseason? Or do they realize the play is just “part of the game” and get back to business as usual?
Either way, the tension makes this series far more compelling than it already was – and this was already one of the more compelling opening round matchups. Utley’s absence isn’t a huge deal. He doesn’t even start for the Dodgers. But the maelstrom of emotion he has kicked up, does.
Let’s play ball! If you are on the East Coast, this one is worth staying up late to watch…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers +168 at New York Mets -177 (Total: 6.5)
Brett Anderson vs. Matt Harvey
To call this a defining start for Matt Harvey is not an overstatement. The popular “Dark Knight” took a real image hit this year with the pitch-limit, largely seen as a stunt by his agent that put big dollars and future contracts ahead of the team’s success in the here and now. That’s a move, while probably prudent, will never play well with local fan bases. A lousy start tonight and it gets ugly for Harvey. A heroic effort? All is forgiven immediately.
That’s life for a high-profile athlete in Gotham.
So, will Harvey deliver? Because this game is also enormous for Brett Anderson. Anyone pitching game three for the Dodgers is automatically “the other” guy – but the opportunity is HUGE. IF he emerges victorious, the Dodgers have Greinke and Kershaw waiting, just needing one win. If he loses, then they still have a good shot, but the pressure becomes pretty heavy on Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night. (I am assuming Kershaw gets the ball on a day’s short rest).
Anderson has been decent this season in his own regard. He went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA and has pitched well in the postseason once before, back in 2012 with Oakland he turned in six shutout innings with just two hits allowed. It isn’t like they are running some tomato can out to the mound, it just isn’t Kershaw or Greinke – but Anderson STILL gives them a chance to win.
SO it really comes down to Harvey, whom it is tough to get a great read on because of how inconsistently and erratically he has been used in September. This is his first appearance since September 3rd and he has only thrown 28 innings in the last 40 days. I think it is reasonable enough to expect a little lack of sharpness to start liking the value in the Dodgers at +168. That’s a pretty juicy line and I’m going to back another underdog in this series.