Thursday, October 11, 2007

On to Beantown to face the Sawx

As much as I'd like to continue to bask in the joy of shutting down the Yankees and shutting off Yankee fans - except for those still blaming the bugs - it's time to move on. There's more work to be done. And it will be difficult work indeed.

So here's my quick and dirty look at the upcoming ALCS.

I think for the pitching it works best if you go game-by-game.

Game 1: CC vs Beckett. Wow! This one has a chance to be completed in less than three hours, unless of course it goes into extra innings tied zip-zip.
This is the matchup of the top two Cy Young candidates. Not my top two mind you, but the "consensus" top two. I think there should be a top three, with Fausto added to the mix.

There's really no way to handicap this game and this one is as even as it gets.

Advantage: None

Game 2: Fausto vs Schilling

This matchup is every bit as good as that in Game 1.

Two pitchers with completely different styles at the opposite end of the age and experience spectrums will face off and could, quite easily, produce the same bottom line - a zero, or maybe a one or two.

Having missed time early on, Schilling is as fresh as the old geezer can be. And he's been as effective as ever all season.

Fausto, on the other hand, is in unchartered waters, having long-ago surpassed his IP totals for a single season. But I ask you, did he look tired last Friday?

Will the Fenway crowd get to him? It's possible. But look at how he has pitched this year after the potentially career-crushing experience he endured as short-term closer last year. And again, look at last Friday night?

As in the first game, this one will hinge on who gets a hit at the right time and makes all the plays in the field.

Advantage: None

Game 3: Westbrook vs Dice-K.

Matsuzaka had a miserable September but his overall body of work this season was solid. Still that miserable September carried over into the playoffs, as he was knocked out of his only ALDS start in the fifth inning.

Jake had an up-and-down year, with the bottom-line results that were acceptable at best. His September was not the washout that Dice-K put up, but it was just so-so. He too was sent packing early in his only ALDS outing. But Oh that August!

Will Dice-K continue to sputter as the innings continue to pile up on him? Will he pull it together for a game and pitch like the winner he was early in the year?
Which Westbrook will show up. The August Westbrook, or the September/October Westbrook?
Advantage: Red Sox

Game 4:

Byrd vs Wakefield

This comes down to three questions.
Will Wakefield's knuckler knuckle? Will he even pitch (sore back)? Will Byrd keep the Red Sox in the ballpark?
Fortunately this game is at The Jake. Jacobs field is not exactly the pitcher's haven that the Astrodome used to be, but it is a bit friendlier to flyball pitchers than Fenway and that should mitigate at least some of the damage. And Byrd was very good in his one outing against the Sox this year.

Advantage: Tribe

The Bullpens:

A you can see, the starting pitching matchups are not much of a barometer for the series. What about the bullpens?

Look at the set-up men and things look pretty good for the Tribe.

Jensen Lewis and the Raffies have been lights-out for weeks now. They carried that over into the ALDS.

For the Sox, Okajima and Gagne have been a disaster in the last six weeks or so, though Okajima did have a good ALCS.

The Red Sox middle relievers have been mostly solid all year. They compare favorably to Tom Mastny and Aaron Fultz, which is not hard to do. But the middle-inning guys may not be too important in this series. Many may not even saee the light of day. It will likely come down to the starters and the back end of the bullpens.

The 7th and 8th could be very dicey for the Red Sox, while the Tribe has a sturdy bridge to the ninth inning.
But, while not exactly the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere, that bridge leads to JoBo. Wouldn't you much rather see Jonathan Papelbon waiting on the other side?
As for the offenses, I look at this series much as I did the series with the Yankees.
The Sox are clearly more explosive than the Tribe, especially with Manny and Ortiz as hot as they are. But the Tribe's ability to get two-out hits and to hit with runners in scoring position made them potent enough to support their outstanding pitching.
So where does all of this leave us?
On the edge of the couch, probably for all seven nights.

For an insightful, stats-filled breakdown of the pitching matchups see Pat Tabler's work at The DiaTribe.


Anonymous said...

redsox fan here. the two best a.l teams face off..i hope its a good series may the best team win

Ron Vallo said...

hey sox fan. thanks for checking in. I hope the same.

check back in. it's nice to hear from the other guys.

you can even needle us if the opportunity presents itself

Anonymous said...

nah, everyone seems to think were like the yankees now so i prefer to keep the higher most sox fans i'm nervous...and yeah you can needle us...i'm just glad to finally get to see some good baseball.and thanks for yankee elimination day

Ron Vallo said...

it was our pleasure. believe me!!!

moose said...

will the lack of batting practice over the last 3 days affect the indians

colorado rockies are amazing
I think regardless of who wins the ALCS the rockies are destined to win it all !!!

Anonymous said...

I just moved to Jersey City from Cleveland, and I wondered if you know of any NYC bars that are hosting Tribe fan viewings of the ALCS. I like jumping up & down and screaming by myself in my apartment, but I'm not so sure about my neighbors.

As for tonight, deep breaths, pace's a long 9 innings.

Ron Vallo said...

Hey Jersey City:

I'm an old guy who doesn't go to sports bars anymore.

I work in Jersey City and my younger collegues had a couple of suggestions for you, though they are not necessarily Indians friendly.

P.J. Ryan's on Marin in JC was recommend as a good sports bar.

In NYC, McSorley's on 7th st. between 2nd and 3rd Ave, was described to me as a very anti-Red Sox bar. So you might get some comeraderie there.

Also Croxley Ales on Ave. B at 3rd St. in NYC was mentioned as a fun sports bar. Again no word on whether it would be Indians friendly.

I can't vouch for any of the above, just passing along from my younger co-workers.

You might also check out the Browns Backers Web site to find Browns Backers clubs in the NY/NJ area. Give them a call. I'm sure they are planning to meet up somewhere tonight as well.

Welcome to NYC, to Jersey City and the Web site.

Go Tribe!

Anonymous said...

enjoy rooting for the tribe w/ all those yankee fans lol.funny most of the boston globe reporters picked the tribe. i love it,the red sox maybe goliath but w/everyone picking the tribe...i think it gives the sox the underdog status...thanks cleveland.should be a good one tonight...redsox fan signing off

Ron Vallo said...

sox fan:

i saw a clip of Bob Ryan and Nick Cafardo and both picked the Tribe, Ryan in six and Cafardo said 7.

Heard Ryan on NY talk radio this afternoon, and, again, he said six.

my sox-fan friends at work aren't saying ... at least to me.

I think it really is a tossup and likely to go 7.

Stay in touch and let us know what's going on from the Red Sox side.

moose said...

bob ryan picked cleveland thats the kiss of death -

boy I had this blog to myself for a long time now I cant find a spot !!!!

good to see more people

1-1 after 2. looks like CC settled down

too many bad 1-2 pitches in the first inning

My most hated red sox -manny what a clown in the OF

go tribe

moose said...


No hit + no Pitch = No Win

some batters looked really bad

The optomist will say its only one game and we got fausto tomorrow

the pessimist will say we got no hitting and the inexperience is showing

never saw CC throw so many bad 0-2 and 1-2 pitches - picked a bad night to lay an egg

Ron Vallo said...

which one are you moose?