The Braves took game two NLCS. Clayton Kershaw was supposed to start for the Dodgers, but his old nemesis, back spasms, forced Roberts to scratch him. His replacement, Tony Gonsolin, didn’t do badly, and Dodgers made it close with a ninth inning comeback that fell just short. But the Braves still prevailed, 8-7.
And of course our Tampa Bay Rays are up 3-0 against the Astros. Our guys are making magic happen, with a different player rising the the occasion every night. Watching — hearing — Kevin Kiermaier get a fastball to the wrist was a scary moment but apparently nothing is broken. Still, a bad bruise is likely to keep him off the field for a few days.
For the past few years, Rays have seemed to value having a pitching staff with a mix of deliveries, presumably to keep opposing batters from getting too locked in. MLB’s always brilliant Mike Petriello took note:
In Game 1 of the ALCS, the Rays used 5 pitchers to give the Astros 5 wildly different looks. Meet Dr. Octopus, if only Otto Octavius also had nasty stuff. (Thanks to @AlexFast8 for the cool video.) pic.twitter.com/5imvCT6KQm— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) October 13, 2020
Jayson Stark really get us! Reasons to love the Rays ($)
Players tell Marc Topkin why it’s been fun playing for the Rays this year. ($)
As long as Randy Arozarena keeps hitting, they will keep writing about him. ($)
Not everyone thinks limiting payroll is something to be applauded. But this 538 analysis goes further than the obvious “Rays win with low payroll” take.
OK, I have never heard of this stat, but I’m not surprised it is one where Ji-Man Choi comes out on top:
We have a stat for first basemen and handling difficult throws - we call it "Scoop Runs Saved"— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) October 12, 2020
Ji-Man Choi of the Rays ranks 1st in MLB in Scoop Runs Saved since the start of the 2019 season.
On thing is clear: as the playoff field has been reduced, your Tampa Bay Rays have emerged as, yes, America’s team. The team perceived as the underdog tends to pick up unaffiliated fans in every playoff run — how many of you were cheering for the Nationals in 2019? That’s part of the Rays appeal (although underdog is a bit of an odd formulation for the team that dominated its division). Now that the Rays are facing the Astros, of course, you can bet that every baseball fan outside of the 713* area code has joined the Rays Republic, at least for this week.
Curious how Rays fans feel about his? I’m both thrilled and a touch resentful (hello national media, where were you two weeks ago? This team was pretty good then as well), but I try hard to keep the latter impulse in check.
From USA Today, America’s Team
From The Tablet — gefilte fish?
Fans are back! The NLCS games (and eventually the World Series) are selling tickets to about 10,000 fans per game. What’s that like? ($) (And in case you are wondering, no fans in San Diego because California has stricter rules about large gathering than does Texas).
No surprise that the Chris Archer trade is seen as the most impactful one for this postseason per Sam Miller.
Postseason trends, from Fangraphs.
Wow, really distressing report about Tommy Pham - thankfully he seems to be on the mend.
Sad news: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan passed away earlier this week. The 5’ 7” second baseman also had a broadcast career after his playing days ended.
And in conclusion, props to Matt Taylor for this image:
*yes, I realize the Houston area has multiple area codes but it seemed tiresome to list them all.