Last Night's Game
Last night's 2-0 defeat was a rather typical second-half loss for the Indians, in that a great pitching performance was wasted because the other club's pitchers were also great. It is Chris Antonetti's task this winter to ensure that these types of losses are few and far between in 2015.
Later today the BBWAA writers must turn in their ballots for the year-end awards. The reason why today is the deadline and not the day after the World Series is that the playoffs could influence the voting of a regular-season award. So although the winners are announced in November, the winners are selected in late September.
Castrovince makes the case for Kluber for the AL Cy Young, and he has a lot of evidence and logic to stand on. A couple rather questionable scoring changes have made the gap between Hernandez's and Kluber's ERA larger than it should be (as well as tell you relying on ERA to evaluate a pitcher is not something you should be doing). In addition, Kluber did his pitcher in front of the worst defense in captivity, he did it in a more difficult home pitching environment than Hernandez, and in several alternative pitching measures has actually been the better pitcher. But I believe that all these arguments will be thrown to the side, as Hernandez this afternoon will pitch with the season on the line, and the last thing voters will see before turning in their ballots will be Felix's performance - good, bad, or indifferent - and that will tip the balance in the voting.
Carrasco's emergence as a top-flight starting pitcher may not have saved the 2014 season, but it has greatly changed the outlook for 2015. With Kluber and Carrasco at the top of the rotation, and Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer behind them, the Indians already have their main starters in place. Although I'm sure Chris Antonetti will obey the GM dictum "to go and find more pitching even it thou thinkest thou hast enough". starting pitching will not be the priority that we thought it would several months ago. By the way, remember the Justin Masterson extension negotiations in Spring Training? Good times.
If everything breaks right today, there will be three tiebreaker games tomorrow. One (Seattle-Oakland) to determine the second AL Wild Card spot, and two (Detroit-Kansas City and St. Louis-Pittsburgh) to determine the AL Central and NL Central champions, respectively. The reason why divisional tiebreakers are held now (prior to 2012 they broke the tie by head-to-head record) is because the difference now is so great (5-game series for division winner vs. sudden-death playoff for Wild Card team) that it would be unfair to decide the fates of the two teams with an off-field calculation.
What is fascinating, though, is that Pittsburgh is likely not starting Gerrit Cole today, even though that decision hurts the Pirates' chance to win the division. The thinking being that Cole in a one-game Wild Card matchup would give the team a better chance to make it to the Division Series than Cole in Game 162 and another starter in a potential tiebreaker (assuming that the Cardinals lose to Arizona this afternoon). Now had the Pirates won yesterday, they would have controlled their own destiny, and so perhaps would have sent Cole to the mound today. And perhaps Clint Hurdle might change his mind this morning.
All games are free on MLB.TV today, and here are the ones with playoff implications:
AL Central - Detroit leads Kansas City by 1 game
- Minnesota (Gibson) at Detroit (Price), 1:08 PM
- Kansas City (Ventura) at Chicago (Bassitt), 2:10 PM
AL Wild Card - Oakland leads Seattle by 1 game
- Oakland (Gray) at Texas (Martinez), 3:05 PM
- LA Angels (Rasmus) at Seattle (Hernandez), 4:10 PM
NL Central - St. Louis leads Pittsburgh by 1 game
- Pittsburgh (Cole or TBA) at Cincinnati (Cueto), 1:10 PM
- St. Louis (Wainwright) at Arizona (Collmeneter), 4:10 PM
Latest 25-man/40-man Roster
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The pitching staff as a whole (including dud seasons by Josh Tomlin and Zach McAllister (though he's made up some ground of late pitching in relief) has WAR of 21.5, and the position players have a WAR of 14.7, with Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes accounting for over 75% of that.