Before we get into today’s column, I can’t be the only one who noticed that Johnny Cueto looks EXACTLY like Malcolm Jamal Warner with his beard, right?? It’s uncanny. It was hard not to yell at him through the television calling him “Theo” in my best/worst Dr. Huxtable impression all game long… as a matter of fact, for me, it proved awkwardly impossible…
It’s been a perfect MLB postseason so far. You get the Cubs bringing in massive ratings and general interest. You get three of four series coming down to decisive Gave Five’s. And maybe most importantly, and somewhat less noticed, you get the BEST teams advancing. It’s a lot like the NCAA Tournament; it’s a blast to have some early upsets, but in the end, give me Duke and Wisconsin and Kentucky. It was fun watching a Georgia State buzzer beater, but I don’t want them in the Final Four. Same thing with MLB. The Rangers scared the hell out of Blue Jays fans, but I want Josh Donaldson and Joey Bats heading into Kansas City to try and unseat the lovable and resilient defending champs.
Tonight’s game doesn’t have the same “underdog vs. Goliath” feel to it; either team will pose a great matchup for the Cubs. The Dodgers have the Big Two, but then their rotation falls off a cliff. The Mets don’t have anyone with the gravitas of Kershaw, but if Matt Harvey and Matz are going to be your three and four starters, you have a dynamic, deep rotation.
SO who advances TONIGHT? All chips on the table. Two of the best pitchers in baseball in a winner-take- all. It’s going to be a blast. Here’s my attempt to notch a third straight winner and run the postseason record to 8-3 ATS.
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New York Mets +140 at Los Angeles Dodgers -153 (Total: 6)
Jacob deGrom vs. Zack Greinke
Does it get any better than this? The two biggest media markets in the United States. Two of the best pitchers on Earth. And EVERYTHING on the line. It’s going to be awesome.
Or will it? Anyone noticed that these winner-take-all pitching matchup often fail to live up to their billing? 2013, sorry Gerrit Cole, the Pirates lose 6-1 to the Cards. 2012, the Reds fall 6-4, the Cards and Nats play a 9-7 slopfest, the Tigers jump on Oakland for six runs. Even yesterday, a ton of runs scored in games with all pitchers available and all-hands-on-deck in full effect. My point is simply, over the last five years, only one or two of these highly-pressurized games have gone the way of defense and pitching. Most have had plenty of offense (or offensive defense).
It’s really hard to bet against deGrom or Greinke individually. But it is reasonable to think one may falter just a bit, and that neither will pitch more than six or seven innings. In that case, I LOVE the bullpens to give away the super-slim UNDER total of 6 and allow some runs to cross the dish. Maybe we will get the 2-1 game this pitching matchup suggests is possible. But recent history tells us that we wil get a little more offense, perhaps even an error or two, and a very likely OVER 6 total.