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Meg Rowley is joined by guest co-host Mike Petriello of MLB.com. They discuss Mike’s role in the booth as a part of ESPN’s Statcast broadcasts, how what is affectionately referred to as the Nerdcast got started, how Mike prepares for games, how he balances being analytics-heavy while still appealing to a broad audience, how the Nerdcast has evolved along with Statcast, what makes for a fun booth, how he works with Jason Benetti and Eduardo Perez, and what might come next for the Nerdcast as more traditional broadcasts become more statistically savvy. Then they briefly contemplate the role of the manager in light of the news of Mike Shildt’s firing in St. Louis before turning their attention (31:19) to the Dodgers’ decision to start Corey Knebel as an opener for Game 5 of the NLDS, how the Giants might counter, what they like about Logan Webb, and what each of these teams needs to do to advance to the NLCS. Read the rest of this entry »
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Meg Rowley and guest co-host Bradford William Davis of Insider discuss his new job as an investigative features writer and what the shift from being a daily columnist has meant for how he engages with players, sources, and baseball, and the stories he’s able to tell. Then they turn their attention to the playoffs and discuss the White Sox/Astros series, how Chicago faltered and Houston triumphed, the Astros embracing their heel turn, how players and fans view guys like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, why Meg underestimated Boston, how the Astros and Red Sox match up, Christian Yelich, the Brewers’ rotation, the Braves’ fun lineup and bad ballpark traditions, who they expect to emerge out of tomorrow night’s NLDS Game 5 between the Dodgers and Giants, and which teams they think will square off in the World Series. Read the rest of this entry »
Meg Rowley and guest co-host Jon Tayler of FanGraphs banter about the Boston Red Sox’s victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to advance to the American League Championship Series, including Jon’s experience of the series as a Red Sox fan, Alex Cora’s managerial style, Boston’s particular brand of chaos ball, when Jon knew Garrett Whitlock was worth watching, Enrique Hernández’s incredible playoff run, the rule that robbed Tampa of a run in Game 3, and what Jon expects from Wander Franco in the years to come. Then they catch up on the Braves/Brewers and Dodgers/Giants action, look ahead to the Championship Series, re-predict the rest of the postseason, and analyze an ill-advised playoff promo. Read the rest of this entry »
Meg Rowley and guest co-host Mike Ferrin of MLB Network Radio discuss his recent trip to Monument Valley before recapping the weekend’s ALDS and NLDS action and looking ahead to what might come next, including thoughts on the Giants’ approach to platooning, Cody Bellinger‘s season-long slump, AJ Pollock‘s past postseason woes, the Brewers offense, Eduardo Escobar, Milwaukee’s bullpen, Atlanta’s starters, Houston’s bats, Craig Kimbrel‘s role, Wander Franco, the Rays’ young starters, J.D. Martinez and Kiké Hernández providing thump in Boston’s lineup, and Alex Cora’s strategy to contain Tampa’s offense. Then Meg and Mike listener emails on spitting, the strike zone, a robo ump compromise, a creative proposal to score series rather than games, and rookies adjusting to the big leagues. Plus, a Statblast/Meet a Major Leaguer combo on player debuts versus and for the Kansas City Royals. Read the rest of this entry »
Baseball lends itself to stories, October baseball perhaps most of all. During the regular season, a team’s narrative can unfurl slowly. The postseason, by contrast, is marked by the frantic crowning of heroes and chokers. Subplots abound, and the identity of the game’s central character isn’t always clear until the late innings.
After losing to the San Francisco Giants, 4–0, in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers hoped to even the series on Saturday. The Giants, for their part, were looking to push the Dodgers to the edge of elimination. In the process, the two teams told three different tales.
The Hero’s Journey, Deferred
If you had told the Giants in June that Kevin Gausman would be starting Game 2 of the NLDS, they would have been thrilled. Heading into the All-Star break, he had posted a 1.73 ERA and a 2.57 FIP, led by a four-seam fastball that finishes batters high and a devilish splitter that wipes them out low and is among the best in the game.
But after a scintillating first half, Gausman faltered. He posted a 4.42 ERA and a 3.65 FIP. His splitter had less sink. He tinkered with his pitch mix, toying with throwing more sliders and what Pitch Info classifies as changeups, though not to particularly great effect. The final month of the season suggested a course correction, though not quite a return to form, an assessment seemingly shared by Gabe Kapler when he tapped Logan Webb to start Game 1 of the series.
And for the first few innings of Saturday’s game, you could see why. Gausman threw first-pitch balls to three of the first four batters he faced. In the second, Chris Taylor doubled. After a Cody Bellinger strikeout, Gausman fell behind AJ Pollock, 2–0, and Kapler opted to put him on intentionally to get to Julio Urías. But the pitcher and his .203 season average slapped a hanging splitter for a single, scoring Taylor; Mookie Betts followed with an RBI single of his own (his third hit this series and fifth this postseason).
It looked like Gausman’s night might end half an inning later, as Kapler almost pinch hit Tommy La Stella for his starter when San Francisco threatened after a Wilmer Flores walk and a Brandon Crawford single. Ultimately, though, he thought better of it when a Donovan Solano sacrifice fly plated a run and pushed the Giants to two outs, and Gausman rewarded that faith by settling down and retiring the next nine batters he faced. It seemed like it might be the sort of start that, provided the Giants rallied, would be described as gritty — not dominant, but necessary in the march to the World Series.
Then the sixth inning hit.
Meg Rowley and guest co-host Eric Longenhagen banter about Walker Buehler’s unusual approach to opening beers and their own past dental emergencies before recapping the AL Wild Card game. They consider what went wrong for the Yankees, and assess the Red Sox’s good starters, potent lineup, and shaky defense, as well as Nick Pivetta and Garrett Richards. Next they shift to the Red Sox/Rays ALDS matchup and consider the state of Tampa Bay’s pitching, the Rays’ talented hitters, and whether playoff experience (or a lack thereof) will matter for Tampa’s young starters. After that it’s on to the Astros and White Sox, featuring an embarrassment of good hitters including Kyle Tucker and Luis Robert, plus Houston’s talented pitching and Chicago’s dominant bullpen. Then they wrap up with thoughts on the NL Wild Card and play a game of stumpo with Arizona Fall League rosters. Read the rest of this entry »