October Nathan Eovaldi is Completely different, Blue Jays Botch Large Second, Extra Wild Card Takes
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AP Photograph/Bruce Kluckhohn
No sizzling take is untimely within the best-of-three Wild Card Spherical, when a staff’s postseason run can begin and finish within the span of 48 hours.
Simply ask the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
Each AL East golf equipment had been despatched packing in collection sweeps, with the Texas Rangers advancing to the ALDS behind a stellar begin from Nathan Eovaldi and the Minnesota Twins driving a dominant bullpen efficiency to shake the postseason demons which have plagued them lately.
They don’t seem to be the one ones making an early exit from the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Brewers additionally fell sufferer to a Wild Card Spherical sweep, putting for 2 early runs in opposition to Zac Gallen and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sport 2 earlier than their bats fell silent and the D-backs got here away with a 5-2 victory.
A 7-1 victory by the Philadelphia Phillies over the Miami Marlins concluded a full day of sweeps, and now baseball followers must wait till Saturday to get their subsequent dose of postseason baseball when the ALDS and NLDS kick off.
Within the meantime, there are takes available for winners and losers alike, and forward we have taken a better take a look at one main storyline for every staff that was in motion on Wednesday.
Rays Embarrassing Play Ought to Put Kevin Money on the Sizzling Seat
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Norm Corridor/Getty Pictures
The Tampa Bay Rays began the 12 months 13-0 and spent 12 of the primary 13 weeks of the 2023 season within the No. 1 spot in B/R’s weekly energy rankings. Earlier than the Atlanta Braves juggernaut offense hit its stride, they appeared just like the staff to beat.
What the hell occurred?
It might be simple to level to accidents to Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen within the beginning rotation and sluggers Brandon Lowe and Luke Raley within the beginning lineup. Or to say that it is a younger roster, that the Texas Rangers offense was clicking, or that Nathan Eovaldi merely pitched a gem.
Nevertheless, it is time to begin asking if Kevin Money is the suitable man to be steering the ship in Tampa Bay.
The Rays did not simply get beat, they had been flat-out embarrassed, and for the transient 48 hours they had been a playoff staff they appeared poorly composed and ill-prepared for playoff baseball. These are points that fall squarely on the shoulders of the person within the supervisor’s seat.
He let a two-run inning flip right into a four-run inning by leaving Zach Eflin within the recreation too lengthy within the fourth. The Tampa Bay starter had already given up a solo residence run to Adolis García, single to Leody Taveras and triple to Josh Jung, but he was nonetheless left in to surrender a two-run blast to Evan Carter.
For a Rays offense that obtained shut out on Tuesday evening and did not get a runner previous first base till the seventh inning on Wednesday, 4 runs was insurmountable. A quiet offense has develop into a troubling pattern for the Rays in October.
A 12 months in the past, this similar Rays staff managed only one run and 9 hits in 24 innings whereas getting swept by the Cleveland Guardians within the Wild Card Spherical.
The Tampa Bay group persistently finds a option to deal with one of many lowest payrolls in baseball, however it’s the entrance workplace that deserves credit score for mining diamonds within the tough, spending correctly and excelling in participant growth.
In his function as supervisor, Money has now did not set the staff up for postseason success in consecutive years, and that ought to put him on the new seat.
October Nathan Eovaldi Has Entered the Chat
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Steph Chambers/Getty Pictures
In his first season with the Texas Rangers, Nathan Eovaldi pitched to a 2.83 ERA throughout the first half of the season to earn his second profession All-Star choice, however a forearm pressure sidelined him in late July and price him practically two months.
The 33-year-old returned to motion on Sept. 5, however he did not appear to be the identical pitcher down the stretch, struggling to a 9.30 ERA in 20.1 innings whereas permitting an unsightly .313/.418/.602 line to opposing hitters.
Seems, he was simply ready for the calendar to flip to October.
The Rangers signed Eovaldi to a two-year, $34 million deal partly due to his spectacular postseason observe file. Certain sufficient, he flipped the swap with a dominant begin in Sport 2, taking the Rays offense out of the sport early and rolling by means of the center innings.
Eovaldi had a profession breakthrough throughout the 2018 postseason with the Boston Purple Sox, posting a 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings whereas tallying two wins and two holds pitching in quite a lot of totally different roles. The Purple Sox re-signed him to a four-year, $68 million, and he pitched properly once more throughout the 2021 postseason.
Add Wednesday’s begin—6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ok—to his resume, and there is a pretty simple case to be made that he’s one in every of baseball’s greatest lively postseason pitchers.
Can he anchor one other World Sequence push together with his new staff?
The Twins Have a Secret Weapon
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Brock StewartDavid Berding/Getty Pictures
Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Brock Stewart, Caleb Thielbar and Louie Varland.
To the informal fan exterior of Minnesota, it is an unknown forged of characters, however it would possibly simply be the key weapon that leads the Minnesota Twins on a deep postseason run.
These 5 relievers threw a mixed 8.1 scoreless innings in Sport 1 and Sport 2 to assist lead the Twins to a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays within the Wild Card Spherical, and that group is the kind of bullpen core that might shorten video games all postseason.
The very fact Twins supervisor Rocco Baldelli did not suppose twice about taking Sport 2 starter Sonny Grey—a pitcher who had a 2.79 ERA in 184 innings and is a lock to complete within the prime 5 in AL Cy Younger voting—out of the sport after simply 5 innings and 85 pitches speaks volumes.
The Twins bullpen completed fifteenth within the majors with a 3.95 ERA throughout the common season, however that does not inform the entire story. The items actually fell into place because the season unfolded, and their aid corps was an enormous motive why they ranked third within the AL with a 3.64 ERA in September whereas going 18-10 throughout the last month.
Duran, Stewart and Varland all touched 100 mph on the radar gun on Wednesday evening, and high-octane arms like that may make an actual distinction in October when lacking bats is one of the simplest ways to quell a comeback.
They could have completed with the worst file of any AL playoff staff, however do not sleep on the Twins as critical title contenders if their bullpen retains mowing down hitters.
Early Hook for José Berríos Will Be Mentioned All Offseason
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AP Photograph/Abbie Parr
There are specific postseason pitching selections that get talked about for years to return.
Bear in mind when Baltimore Orioles supervisor Buck Showalter left All-Star nearer Zack Britton and his 0.54 ERA sitting within the bullpen in favor of Ubaldo Jimenez throughout the 2016 AL Wild Card Sport?
How about when Boston Purple Sox supervisor Grady Little left a tiring Pedro Martinez in too lengthy in Sport 7 of the 2003 ALCS, solely to look at him squander a 5-2 lead within the eighth inning en path to a 6-5 loss?
Toronto Blue Jays supervisor John Schneider might need simply added himself to that record.
Proper-hander José Berríos tossed three scoreless innings to open Sport 2 for the Blue Jays, scattering three hits and tallying 5 strikeouts. He issued a leadoff stroll Royce Lewis to start out the fourth inning, seemingly pitching across the red-hot hitter, and that was it as Yusei Kikuchi was summoned from the bullpen.
Kikuchi promptly allowed the primary three runners he confronted to achieve base, and by the point the fourth inning ended the Blue Jays had been trailing 2-0, which might maintain up as the ultimate rating in an elimination recreation for Toronto.
Again to Berríos, we’re speaking a few pitcher who logged a 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 184 strikeouts in 189.2 innings this 12 months. He pitched into the sixth inning in 27 of 32 begins. The Blue Jays gave him a seven-year, $131 million contract precisely for conditions like his Sport 2 begin.
What was Schneider considering?!
The Standing Quo Is Not Working for the Brewers
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Patrick McDermott/Getty Pictures
One thing has to vary in Milwaukee.
The Brewers appeared like a title contender on the rise in 2018 after they took the Los Angeles Dodgers to Sport 7 within the NLCS behind breakout performances from younger pitchers Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff in bullpen roles.
Within the 5 years since, they’ve been the category of the NL Central, successful a pair of division titles and reaching the postseason 4 instances. Nevertheless, they’ve gone a mixed 1-8 throughout these 4 playoff runs, exiting within the Wild Card Spherical 3 times.
This 12 months’s early exit got here in notably irritating style:
The Brewers are the second staff in MLB historical past to have a multi-run lead at residence in every of the ultimate 2 video games of a postseason collection however lose each by 3+ runs.
The opposite was the Cubs in Video games 6 & 7 of the 2003 NLCS in opposition to the Marlins.
With Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and Adrian Houser all headed totally free company after the 2024 season, the window is closing on this present core, and whereas they may keep the course and attempt to make another push with that group, the final 5 years have confirmed it is merely not sufficient.
This offseason is the time to look to the longer term by buying and selling one or each of Burnes and Woodruff, particularly if a long-term extension with both participant doesn’t appear to be a sensible risk.
In the event that they enter the season subsequent 12 months with basically the identical roster and fall brief as soon as once more, will probably be an enormous missed alternative for the franchise and will make retooling on the opposite aspect of that mass exodus in free company considerably harder.
It is a make-or-break offseason for Matt Arnold and firm.
Zac Gallen Is the Ace for a Purpose
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John Fisher/Getty Pictures
After the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen tossed 6.1 scoreless innings in aid of starter Brandon Pfaadt in Sport 1, they may unwell afford an early exit from ace Zac Gallen in his Sport 2 begin.
The primary inning can typically set the tone for a beginning pitcher’s whole outing. Let’s examine how issues went for Gallen within the backside of the primary on Wednesday evening.
Sophia Minnaert @SophiaMinnaert
Zac Gallen in opposition to the Brewers this season: 14 IP, 1 ER.
Tonight within the first inning: 3 H, BB, 2 R, 32 pitches.
Most pitches Gallen has thrown within the first inning this season.
Fortunately, the 28-year-old is the ace of the employees and among the best pitchers in baseball for a motive, and after these preliminary struggles he settled in properly and cruised for the rest of what ended up being a top quality begin.
Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja
Zac Gallen’s 2Ks within the sixth…and is fired up. 🔥
Heck of a job by Gallen battling by means of this begin with out his greatest stuff. pic.twitter.com/U3zsJAibyJ
Over the following 5 innings, he scattered two hits and two walks whereas maintaining the Brewers from including to that early lead, and the D-backs took the lead for good with a four-run prime of the sixth inning.
Apart from his personal early struggles, Gallen additionally needed to overcome beginning catcher Gabriel Moreno abruptly leaving the sport with an harm, and tip of the cap to seldom-used backup catcher Jose Herrera for calling a terrific recreation the remainder of the best way.
The gamble to start out rookie Brandon Pfaadt in Sport 1 of the Wild Card Sequence paid off, because the D-backs now have Merrill Kelly and Gallen lined as much as begin Sport 1 and Sport 2 within the NLDS in opposition to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Aaron Nola Is a $100 Million Pitcher
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Sarah Stier/Getty Pictures
Aaron Nola didn’t appear to be the identical frontline starter he has been all through his time with the Philadelphia Phillies over the ultimate few months of the 2023 season.
The 30-year-old struggled to a 4.92 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 60.1 innings over his last 11 begins, finishing six innings simply 4 instances throughout that stretch, and with free company ready this offseason there was the added significance of probably costing himself important cash if these struggles continued into October.
Following his gem in Sport 2 in opposition to the Miami Marlins, the concept he will not be one of many highest-paid gamers of the winter simply appears foolish.
Along with his full five-pitch repertoire working, Nola reduce by means of the Miami lineup with ease, permitting simply three hits and one stroll over seven shutout innings earlier than turning issues over to the bullpen with a 7-0 lead.
Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja
Aaron Nola, Filthy Knuckle Curves. 😷 pic.twitter.com/AEYrXTGNAU
After high quality begins within the Wild Card Spherical and NLDS a 12 months in the past, Nola failed to complete 5 full innings in Sport 2 of the NLCS, Sport 1 of the World Sequence and Sport 3 of the World Sequence, posting a mixed 9.69 ERA whereas permitting 20 hits in 13 innings throughout these three begins.
Now he has successfully erased query marks about his inconsistent end to the 2023 common season and 2022 postseason, and groups might be lining as much as make a run at signing him this winter.
Exterior of NL Cy Younger front-runner Blake Snell and Shohei Ohtani at any time when he’s wholesome and again on the mound, Nola is the most effective beginning pitcher available on the market, and after Carlos Rodón reeled in a $162 million payday with a far much less spectacular profession observe file, Nola should not have any downside punching a nine-figure payday this winter.
First issues first, he’ll as soon as once more be part of Zack Wheeler in anchoring the Philadelphia rotation on a postseason push, and a stacked Atlanta Braves lineup is up subsequent.
Sarah Langs @SlangsOnSports
most postseason begins of 6+ IP & 1 or 0 runs allowed, Phillies historical past:
Steve Carlton: 4
Cole Hamels: 4
Aaron Nola: 3
Zack Wheeler: 3
Cliff Lee: 3
In three begins in opposition to Atlanta throughout the common season, Nola posted a 3.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a stellar 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings, although he needed to accept three no-decisions.
Marlins Cap off Day of Sweeps, Wild Card Spherical Development Continues
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AP Photograph/Matt Slocum
On paper, the Miami Marlins appeared just like the weakest staff on this 12 months’s postseason subject, and that was shortly confirmed true as they had been swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in lopsided style.
The Marlins had been outscored 11-2 within the two-game sweep, and each of their runs had been inconsequential within the grand scheme of issues.
The Phillies constructed a 3-0 lead in Sport 1 earlier than the Marlins prevented the shutout with a lone run within the seventh inning, and it was a 7-0 rating in Sport 2 earlier than the Marlins lastly obtained onto the scoreboard with a run within the prime of the ninth.
With that, a full day of sweeps got here to an in depth.
Sports activities Illustrated @SInow
Every Wild Card collection on this 12 months’s postseason resulted in a two-game sweep 👀 pic.twitter.com/cMxFpsJ0Rf
Together with the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when the Wild Card Spherical was first launched, a whopping 13 of 16 best-of-three collection which have been performed over the previous 4 years resulted in a two-game sweep.
We at the moment are left with no baseball on Thursday or Friday earlier than the ALDS and NLDS kick off with 4 video games of motion on Saturday.
See you this weekend, baseball followers!