On to the next round.
After a couple exciting series (NL) and a couple not-very-exciting-at-all series (AL) we’re down to four teams battling for a World Series title. The Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers all emerged victorious in their LDS matchups.
Let’s go over the highlights of each series:
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
Red Sox Offense Falls Asleep
Boston led the league in runs scored this season by a significant margin. So of course, it only made sense that their bats would be nowhere to be found come postseason time. That’s just how playoff baseball works.
They hit a collective .214 with a .655 OPS and 31 strikeouts in three games vs. the Indians. Everyone with the exception of Andrew Benitendi, Brock Holt, and Hanley Ramirez was lost at the plate.
Danny Salazar? Carlos Carrasco? Who needs ’em…
One of the bigger storylines for Cleveland coming into the playoffs was how they lack two of their best starting pitchers due to injury. With Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco out, many expected this to be somewhat of a cakewalk for Boston.
That was far from the case. Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin stepped up in their place while the bullpen completely shut down the coveted Red Sox lineup.
David Ortiz Says Goodbye
Following the Red Sox’s Game 3 loss, the Fenway Faithful stayed at the ballpark specifically to thank Big Papi for all he’s done these past 13 years.
Ortiz’s final plate appearance resulted in a walk, and he was replaced for a pinch runner. That’s not at all how Red Sox fans wanted to see him go out, and I highly doubt he was happy with it either. We’ll miss you Papi.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
Cole Hamels Stunk
I came into this series thinking Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish would shut down Toronto’s lineup. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Hamels had one of the worst starts of his career in Game 1. He allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings pitched as the Blue Jays went on to win 10-1. That huge win gave Toronto all the momentum they needed to go on and sweep the series.b
The Blue Jays’ Lineup Is SCARY…
Unlike Boston, Toronto showed up and then some on the offensive end. The Blue Jays kept the line moving with Ezequiel Carrera, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Troy Tulowitzki all coming up big when needed most.
…and So Is Their Pitching Staff
The Blue Jays’ rotation was somewhat of a question mark coming into this series. As solid as it was during the regular season, I wasn’t all that confident it’d hold up in this series against the Rangers. Well, it did.
Marco Estrada was phenomenal in Game 1, then J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez led Toronto to victory in Games 2 and 3. All three stepped up after everyone drooled over the Hamels/Darvish combo.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals
Corey Seager vs. Trea Turner Was Everything We Hoped For
Rookie phenoms Corey Seager…
— The Ledge (@TheLedgeSports) October 10, 2016
…and Trea Turner….
Trea Turner 👀 https://t.co/9WzLKYscdr
— The Ledge (@TheLedgeSports) October 14, 2016
both had their big moments in this series. Turner actually outperformed Seager at the plate, hitting .318 to Seager’s .130. Unfortunately for the Nats it wasn’t enough to take down L.A. in the series.
Clayton Kershaw Silenced the Haters
Shortly after throwing 120 pitches in Game 4, Kershaw came in to close out Game 5 in the ninth inning.
This was a huge moment for Kershaw’s career. He’s been criticized for his mediocre postseason history, so you can only imagine what the commentary would’ve been had he blown this save opportunity.
Bryce Harper Was…OK
Bryce Harper’s NLDS performance was much like his regular season performance. It was OK, but nothing to write home about.
He hit .235 with one RBI, six strikeouts and six walks. I said all along that I’d take back all the criticism I’ve given Harper this year if he came up big in the playoffs. Needless to say, no criticism will be taken back.
No Stephen Strasburg Was the Difference
Washington REALLY could’ve used Strasburg in this series. The lack-thereof cost them big-time. Instead, they were forced to start Joe Ross in a pivotal Game 4.
San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs
This was by far the most exciting series of the LDS. The mighty Chicago Cubs looked to have this series in the bag after their Game 1 and 2 wins, but pesky San Francisco put up one hell of a fight in the end.
The Giants won Game 3 thanks to an unbelievable walk-off double off the bat of Joe Panik.
Unfortunately for the Giants, it’d be the Cubs making a miraculous comeback in Game 4. They scored four runs in the ninth to finally end the even-year magic.
Conor Freakin’ Gillaspie
Gillaspie’s heroics didn’t end after his clutch homer against the Mets in the Wild Card game. He hit .400 in the NLDS, and had ANOTHER clutch moment against fireballer Aroldis Chapman.
— #DoYourJob (@renucho) October 11, 2016
Javier Baez Is A Walking Highlight Reel
Javy Baez is the most exciting player in the playoffs right now. I’m not even going to go into more depth here. Click that link. Believe me, you want to.
MadBum Showed He’s Human
Madison Bumgarner undoubtedly is one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history. That said, he looked pretty average in Game 4. Especially when he let up this three-run bomb off the bat of opposing pitcher Jake Arrieta.
Those were the only runs he allowed in the contest, but he definitely didn’t look like himself. The Cubs worked counts and got Bumgarner’s pitch count up early, which is pretty much the opposite of what the Mets did in the play-in game.