The Ravens have already played five games, but it’s postseason baseball that’s the talk in Dubroff’s Diner.
After four Division Series that were decided in either three or four games, will we have a truly contested pair of League Championship Series?
In the American League, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, who won 103 games this season, are facing the Boston Red Sox, winners of 108 games.
The Astros polished off the Cleveland Indians in three games while the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, who won 100 games, in four.
Houston, which had a spectacular September with a 21-6 record, finished the regular season in Baltimore, and even though the Orioles were nearly every team’s punching bag, the Astros looked terrific.
Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are pitching brilliantly, and manager A.J. Hinch has Lance McCullers, who is normally a starter, serving as a swingman.
The Astros are healthy, and while Carlos Correa had a down year, Alex Bregman (5-for-9 with two homers in the Division series), Marwin Gonzalez (7-for-13 with five RBIs) and George Springer (6-for-14 with three homers) are hot.
Boston has two hot starters, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello, and it was fun to see manager Alex Cora use Sale in the eighth inning in relief to help nail down Game 4.
David Price’s postseason woes continue. One of the best pitchers of our time has a 5.28 ERA in 18 postseason games. While current Astros are batting .226 against Price, he’ll have to prove himself worthy in big games.
Craig Kimbrel’s season ERA nearly doubled to 2.74, and he allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Yankees. The rest of the Red Sox bullpen isn’t impressive.
My pick: Astros in 6
When you watched Manny Machado celebrate after the fourth game of Los Angeles’ Division Series win over Atlanta, it was easy to remember how much fun it was to watch him play with the Orioles.
Machado’s Dodgers hit just .210 in the four-game series, and he was just 3-for-17, but had six RBIs.
Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been as shaky a postseason performer as Price, but he has a lifetime 4.08 ERA in the biggest games. In Game 2 against the Braves, Kershaw was magnificent, allowing just two hits in eight innings.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was nearly as good, pitching seven scoreless innings in Game 1. Atlanta had just four hits.
Dave Roberts has become an experienced postseason manager, and his bullpen, featuring Kenley Jansen, should be good enough to overcome the Brewers.
A Milwaukee win would be a cool story. The Brewers have made just one World Series, back in 1982, and they were able to beat the Chicago Cubs in Monday’s tiebreaker game. When a small-market team can outlast the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, it’s like the Orioles besting the Yankees and Red Sox.
Craig Counsell is managing his first postseason team. He’s chosen former Washington National Gio Gonzalez to start Game 1. Counsell makes liberal use of his bullpen, and used an opener for Game 1 of the Division Series against Colorado.
We’ll see how the opener theory works in a possible seven-game series.
The Brewers have the likely National League MVP, Christian Yelich, in his first postseason, and it’s always great when an unappreciated star gets deserved national exposure.
Josh Hader is the star of Milwaukee’s deep bullpen, and it will be interesting to see how much Counsell will use him.
My pick: Dodgers in 5
Enough from me. Let’s hear what you think and why.
This Week’s Diner Question: What are your predictions for the American League and National League Championship Series?