It’s been five years since the Tigers last made it to the playoffs, and five years ago Justin Verlander was a rookie. For a rookie he pitched surprisingly well in the postseason. Verlander has always had the ability to perform in the clutch as if it weren’t any different than a normal game. Now that’s he’s had five years to develop as a better pitcher, I gotta be honest, I can’t wait to see him rock the playoffs again.
Verlander has always been one of my favorite players. I usually dislike players in the same division as the Sox but something about how Verlander carries himself has made me root for him. That and he’s a darn-good pitcher. Guys like Joe Mauer and Grady Sizemore I hate with a burning passion but I’ve always respected Verlander. Any guy who’s throwing 100 MPH into the eighth inning deserves some respect.
How will Verlander perform in the postseason? I don’t think it’ll be any different than the regular season. Count on eight innings of solid pitching, three runs or less, a handful of strikeouts, and single-digit hits. The guy is money. (No, literally, he IS money. It’s awesome.)
That’s enough on Verlander, time for the And Other Playoff Thoughts part. I’m putting the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Underdog category this season. The whole team has played REALLY well and my friend texted me the other day and said he thinks Upton deserves a shot at MVP. I kinda reviewed my MVP candidates a couple posts back and somehow completely forgot about Upton. While he hasn’t performed to the caliber of a Braun or a Fielder he’s definitely carried the D-Backs to a postseason appearance. Add Chris Young, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Miguel Montero, and you’ve got yourself an offense. I doubt they’ll be able to get past the Phillies but people said the same thing about the Giants last year and look how that went.
That’s not a prediction, I’m just sayin’… y’know… it could happen…
The pitching is the only thing that bothers me about Arizona. They have all the other pieces but the pitching has been iffy. Unlike the Giants, who HAD pitching to go along with everything else, I think that’s what could ultimately be Arizona’s downfall. Ian Kennedy (20-4, 2.88) has been spectacular this year but past him and Daniel Hudson (16-11, 3.43) there’s a noticeable dropoff. Heck, even between Kennedy and Hudson there’s a dropoff. I don’t measure pitching by wins and losses, and people shouldn’t, because a pitcher can’t really control that. If you look at the ERA’s of the starting staff they’re giving up less than four runs per game.
Then you get into the bullpen. Some of the ERA’s in there are painful to look at but there are two bright spots. Closer J.J. Putz and reliever Joe Paterson. Putz has somehow managed to save forty-three games for the Diamondbacks this year after the Sox could barely get him to survive one inning. Paterson, even though he’s winless, has a 2.97 ERA in thirty-three and a third innings. Not bad. If the rest of the starting staff can kick it up a notch, and the bullpen can come through, I think the Diamondbacks will look like this year’s version of the Giants.
Again… I’m just sayin’…
Well, any hope of a meaningful White Sox season has pretty much been thrown out the window. In fact, I think we’re now mathamatically eliminated from playoff contention. That being said, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played and for me to write about. (Don’t worry, I won’t go away this time.)
The game I’m really excited about tonight is the Cardinals @ Phillies game. Since the Braves have sort of been slowing down in the Wild Card and the Brewers are kinda running away with the NL Central the Cards have been creeping into that NL Wild Card spot. Right now they sit 4.5 games behind the Braves and slowly gaining momentum for a huge playoff push. The Braves are in a series with the Mets right now so if New York can play spoiler and the Cardinals can somehow bring down the Powerhouse Phillies, the Wild Card could get interesting.
I basically just told you what you already knew.
Rookie sensation Vance Worley will go for the Phillies tonight against the Cardinals’ ace (since Wainwright went down) Jaime Garcia. This game, and every game from now on for St. Louis, has serious playoff implications. The Phils have already clinched a spot in the playoffs so this is just another game for them. The Cards are looking real good lately so they might be able to pull this off.
If they do that brings up the Pujols contract issue. Do the Cards bring him back for big money should the playoffs be a success? Is making the playoffs big enough success in itself to justify possibly overpaying Pujols? In my mind Albert will always be a Cardinal. He’s one of those players you just can’t picture in a different uniform. Among other players are Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter (Yankees), Paul Konerko (White Sox), David Ortiz (Red Sox), Michael Young (Rangers), and Ichiro (Mariners). We’ll see how this goes – should get exciting for the Redbird faithful.