Ballplayers are becoming more and more reliant on sabermetrics these days, with AI and machine learning also playing a huge part. In this article, technology is discussed in relation to Chicago’s 3-2 victory over Boston, as well as the National League Championship Series battle between the Dodgers and Padres. Whether it’s physical production or statistical output, both teams have made digital number crunching a part of their game plan – this means that baseball might be evolving into more of a math problem than a sport!
What has been the story of this postseason for the Dodgers and Padres?
The Dodgers and Padres have both been battling for a chance at the World Series since the start of the postseason, but it was the Padres who pulled even in their NLCS matchup on a bigger pitched night. The Dodgers took two of three from the D-backs in their first playoff series but lost to the Astros in six games in the second round. San Diego rebounded with a sweep of the Cubs in the NLDS and then cruised to a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles in Game 5 of their NLCS matchup. The Padre’s bullpen was key to their success, as they only allowed one run on five hits in 25 innings while striking out 20 batters. With ace Clayton Richard scheduled to start Game 6 on Wednesday night, it will be interesting to see if any changes are made by either team with regard to their pitching staff.
How has San Diego changed as a pitching town?
Since 2000, the San Diego Padres have had one of the worst offenses in baseball. This season was no different as they finished in last place in the National League with an average of only 3.62 runs scored per game. In order to help improve their struggling offense, the Padres turned to pitch- a strategy that has served them well in recent years.
This postseason, the Padres have faced off against St. Louis in the NLDS and Los Angeles in the NLCS on big-pitched nights. Both teams’ pitching staffs have excelled on big days as St. Louis went 10-4 with a 2.99 ERA on average while L. A went 8-5 with a 1.93 ERA on average over these games. The results speak for themselves- these two teams would likely be battling it out all series if not for stellar pitching performances from their opponents on bigger days.
San Diego’s pitchers are no strangers to success when playing on big days, as they boast one of the best records in baseball when facing a high-pressure situation (postseason included). Over their careers, starting pitchers Clayton Richard, Joe Thatcher, and Tim Stauffer are 23-6 with a 2.89 ERA when leading after five innings or more during postseasons where the pressure is highest (meaning extra innings and tie games). In addition to those three pitchers, bullpen arms Brad Hand and Oliver Perez also stand out as postseason flameouts who are 19-5 combined with
How has Los Angeles changed as a losing town?
For the Padres, this NLCS is a tale of two cities. In the first half of the season, they played in front of a passionate and supportive home crowd at Petco Park, winning 44 out of their last 55 games. But since then, they’ve gone 6-5 against teams playing in more cavernous venues, including falling to Houston in an impressive seven-game series at Minute Maid Park. In Game 4 on Monday night, the wind was blowing out to the left field and blowing through double-decker fences on occasion. Down 3-1 in the 7th inning with runners on first and third and one out, newly acquired catcher Austin Hedges hit a blooper down the line that blew by Nationals shortstop Trea Turner for an easy 2nd inning single. The Padres bullpen faltered thereafter as their formerly formidable offense could not come through. Newly acquired closer Brad Hand walked off the mound after just 1 2/3 innings giving up four runs (without recording an out). In the 10th inning, Washington rallied for three runs to win 5-3
While it may not be Los Angeles anymore as a losing town, there are many other aspects that have changed about this city since Commissioner Rob Manfred took over the operation of Major League Baseball from Bud Selig back in January 2017. The most obvious change has been merging two franchises – first with the Dodgers and now with the Angels – which has led to new rivalries developing between players from each team even before games start
Draft day wheeling and dealing with Jerry Dipoto
The San Diego Padres pulled even in the National League Championship Series on a bigger pitched night, rallying for four runs in the 10th inning to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4. In Game 6 it was largely one-sided, as the Cubs got out to an early 3-0 lead only to see the Padres come back and hold off their elimination hopes by winning 8-7.
That game was played on a much different surface than Game 6, which took place at Wrigley Field on grass. Tony Kemp homered in his first at-bat in more than two months and then stole second base and scored on Hunter Renfroe’s single to tie it up in the fourth inning. But Anthony Rizzo then hit a three-run homer off of Joe Thatcher, giving Chicago a 4-1 advantage that they never looked like relinquishing.
On Thursday night at Petco Park, it was another story. The Cubs built a 2-0 lead on Travis Wood’s complete game but couldn’t hold onto it as four Padres hitters came up with big hits in the sixth and seventh innings to tie it up and send it into extra innings.
In the 10th frame, Cory Spangenberg led off with a double and scored on Manuel Margot’s single. With two outs, Wil Myers ran into trouble trying to steal second base but eventually made it safely when Javier Baez threw him out at third after he appeared to tag him with his hand