Random News of the Day: MLB Predictions


Random News of the Day: MLB Predictions

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 9:48 a.m.

By Joe Collins

Here is the 'Fearless Forecast' for the 2011 MLB season. Will the rich get richer? Probably. Will the Pirates mark their 19th consecutive losing season? Probably. But there should be a few surprises that will make this baseball season more than interesting. Here goes:

( = Playoff Team)


EastW-LGBRandom News
Atlanta Braves
95-67-Little bit of upset here, but their pitching will get them to the top. Jason Heyward is a best.
Philadelphia Phillies
93-692Ridiculously strong pitching staff. Can they stay healthy?
Florida Marlins
80-8215Pesky Marlins always overachieve. Marlins will get a new park in 2012. It's about time.
Washington Nationals
74-8821Might not be as bad as people think. Jayson Werth has to live up to 7-year, 126 million contract.
New York Mets
68-9427The roster is great...by 2004 standards. The Madoff mess continues to linger. At least Shea Stadium is gone.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
St. Louis Cardinals
86-76-Solid lineup should help offset Wainwright injury. Albert Pujols might hit one off the Arch. Will it help him stay a Cardinal?
Cincinnati Reds
84-782Could still take division thanks to an offense that's tougher than Skyline Chili.
Chicago Cubs
82-804The sleeper team of 2011? Carlos Silva's launching is addition by subtraction. Kind of a wait-and-see offense, though.
Milwaukee Brewers
79-837Nice pitching, but Prince Fielder's status could be a distraction. Look for the chorizo to dominate the sausage race, too.
Houston Astros
75-8711RF Hunter Pence now the it-man. Cannot afford another slow start, or they'll be lurking near Pirates Cove (or...6th).
Pittsburgh Pirates
69-9317If there is no NFL season...hoo-boy. At least the Penguins are intriguing.

WestW-LGBRandom News
San Francisco Giants
-Pitching staff, led by Mitch Kramer (err..I mean Tim Lincecum), needs to carry the load again.Colorado Rockies
88-744Great fantasy baseball team (Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez)--but they need to learn how to be a good reality team.
San Diego Padres
5Ran out of gas in September and might not have enough in the tank to hang with SF and COL in 2011.
Los Angeles Dodgers
11New manager Don Mattingly has a fairly decent rotation. So-so lineup. It adds up to a .500 season.Arizona Diamondbacks
21Manager Kirk Gibson means business. But Chase Field could be a wind tunnel if the D-Backs don't win.


EastW-LGBRandom News
Boston Red Sox
94-68-Deep team. And it'll be interesting to see what Bobby Jenks does. Cubs fans will flood Fenway May 20-22.Tampa Bay Rays
91-711When will the first "Manny being Manny" episode happen? Not sure if Joe Maddon will put up with the tomfoolery.
New York Yankees
89-735Yes. 3rd place. Big bats, questionable rotation--but you know the Yankees will deal with that situation come July 31st.
Baltimore Orioles
75-87194th place will be a huge victory for the O's. Buck Showalter doesn't tolerate losing all that much.
Toronto Blue Jays
74-8820Might be an upper-tier team if not for the brutally tough AL East. Jays should hit a lot of homers, though.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
Minnesota Twins
90-72-The 'Rudy' of the AL Central won't go away anytime soon, especially with Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and company.Chicago White Sox
88-742"All In" for a division championship? Lineup and pitching match up with the Twins. Jake Peavy, of course, the x-factor.Detroit Tigers
84-786Keeping Miguel Cabrera away from the bottle might help Jim Leyland keep away from the cigarettes.
Kansas City Royals
75-8715A surprise team at 75-87? That's the standard in KC. Joakim Soria alone might keep them in the race for a while.
Cleveland Indians
63-9927You might see tumbleweeds rolling through the upper deck of Progessive Field. Sad. The city deserves better.

WestW-LGBRandom News
Oakland A's
88-74-Fierce rotation with Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. But will anybody in Oakland care?
Texas Rangers
86-762They'll score a ton of runs, but they're now the hunted instead of the hunters. Will the pressure get to them?Los Angeles Angels
79-839What I like to call a "Swiss cheese" team-- too many holes, particularly in the infield and behind the plate.Seattle Mariners
71-9117The Mariners will be a great team to watch...every fifth day. King Felix is worth the price of admission alone.

Boston over Oakland, 3-2
Minnesota over Tampa Bay, 3-1
Boston over Minnesota, 4-3

Atlanta over St. Louis, 3-0
Philadelphia over San Francisco, 3-1
Philadelphia over Atlanta 4-1

Philadelphia over Boston, 4-3

Well, either that or the Indians and Pirates meet to make this year's World Series the biggest ratings bonanza of all time.

Or something like that.

In Game 1, Jon Lester doesn't quite live up to his World Series reputation: 'We got a long ways to go'

In Game 1, Jon Lester doesn't quite live up to his World Series reputation: 'We got a long ways to go'

CLEVELAND – While the Cubs came into this World Series as the heavy favorites, the team with the global following and baseball’s best roster on paper, Jon Lester understood the challenge ahead. The Cleveland Indians would counter with their own Game 1 ace, a dynamic reliever changing the way we think about bullpens and a future Hall of Fame manager.

That’s how it played out in a 6-0 game that felt a lot closer, Corey Kluber pitching like a Cy Young Award winner, Andrew Miller handling the seventh and eighth innings and Terry Francona improving his record to 9-0 in World Series games.     

Welcome to “Believeland,” where the Fourth Street bars on Tuesday were buzzing more than seven hours before first pitch. That night, LeBron James and the Cavaliers would get their championship rings and watch the banner-raising ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena, just up the street from Progressive Field.

By the first inning – when pitching coach Chris Bosio had to walk out to the mound to talk to Lester – the red video ribbons lining the stadium said: “CLEVELAND AGAINST THE WORLD.” With the bases loaded, Lester had just drilled Brandon Guyer with a pitch, forcing in a second run, a sequence set in motion by walks to Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez’s soft infield single up the third-base line.

It didn’t matter that Lester would eventually settle down and pretty much control this Cleveland lineup. (Except for that rocket Roberto Perez launched off the left-field railing for a solo homer and a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.) Or that the Indians didn’t run all over the bases, with Francisco Lindor going 1-for-2 in stolen bases. (“Whatever, it’s happened all year," Lester said.)

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]  

This is Cleveland’s blueprint for October, maybe its only chance to win its first World Series since 1948.

“It’s always important (to get a lead), no matter what time of year it is,” Lester said. “It makes a manager’s job a lot easier. It makes your job a lot easier. When you give a guy like Kluber – who’s locked in from pitch one – two runs in the first, it makes his job a lot easier. I know the feeling on the other side. You’re just able to attack differently.

“With the bullpens and all that stuff that they’re setting up nowadays, all you got to do is get through six.”

Lester kept it a 3-0 game, but didn’t finish the sixth inning, a rare October night where he didn’t seem to be automatic. Until Tuesday night, he had gone 3-0 in three World Series starts, allowing only one earned run in 21 innings.

Lester won his two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox, overlapping with Francona and Miller at different points. This is why the Cubs gave Lester a $155 million contract, to set the tone on the mound and within the clubhouse.

Near the end of a 103-win regular season – and even after winning the franchise’s first pennant in 71 years – Lester has offered colorful versions of: We haven’t done anything yet.

But Lester – the National League Championship Series co-MVP after putting up a 1.38 ERA against the Los Angeles Dodgers and watching the Cubs win both of those starts – also doesn’t do overreactions to losses.

“We got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “If we win tomorrow, we’re right back in it. Just like LA – everybody counted us out after Game 3. They said we were the worst best team in baseball. We’re here. We’re not giving up.

“I know my guys. I know my team. And I know that nobody in this clubhouse is giving anything up.”

Andrew Miller's outstanding postseason continues with escape to beat Cubs

Andrew Miller's outstanding postseason continues with escape to beat Cubs

CLEVELAND — Andrew Miller added another impressive chapter to an already legendary postseason performance on Tuesday night.

The Cleveland Indians reliever pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning to preserve a three-run lead and help his team achieve a 6-0 victory over the Cubs in Game 1 of the World Series in front of 38,091 at Progressive Field.

Despite putting four men on base, Miller added two more scoreless innings to his 2016 playoff résumé. Miller also struck out more three batters, giving him 24 in 13 2/3 innings this postseason, the second most by any reliever in playoff history. Critical to the effort was the strikeout of Cubs veteran David Ross with a checked swing on a 3-2 slider to strand the bases loaded in the seventh.

“You’re just trying to see the ball as long as you can and stay up the middle,” Ross said. “The 3-1, that’s the one that kinda messed me up. It didn’t break as much, so now you’re like ‘OK, let’s protect and just battle.’ ... Looking back at it, I wish I just stood there and not swung at all. If I could rewind. If it were that easy. I wish it was. And then he’d throw one right down the middle and America hates me.”

Ross has had his share of success against Miller before, though it all came when the left-hander was still a struggling starting pitcher. The veteran catcher is 3-for-5 with a walk against Miller in his career. But that wasn’t the reason Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to stay with Ross instead of pinch hit for him with either Jorge Soler or Albert Almora Jr. with two outs in the seventh inning and Miller struggling for the first time all postseason.

With a man on and nobody out, Miller took over for Corey Kluber and walked Kyle Schwarber — only Miller’s third free pass of the postseason. Javy Baez followed with a single to load the bases.

But Miller rebounded quickly and retired Willson Contreras on a fly out to shallow center before he struck out Addison Russell. Based on his experience, Maddon thought Ross was the right man for the spot.

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“I thought David could hit him or David would accept his walk more than the other guys,” Maddon said. “David works good at-bats in that moment. So I felt good about him, actually. I felt better about him.

“I think with Soler coming off the bench or Albert they had less of a chance than David because I thought there was a two-fold opportunity to either get the hit or draw the walk.”

Ross worked the count to his favor quickly as he took a fastball for a ball, and after swinging and missing a slider, took two more balls to get ahead 3-1. But Miller dropped a slider in for a called strike and then turned to it once again, getting Ross to commit just enough for the third strike. The strikeout improved the Indians’ chances of winning by 26.5 percent, up to 94.7, according to fangraphs.com.

“I was trying to throw a really good one because if he hits it, it goes a long way,” Miller said. “That’s David Ross. I think even he would say, you can pitch to him, but if you throw something in his wheelhouse it’s going to go a long way and do some damage. Fortunate that it worked out. I threw a good one that was in a spot that he went after in the situation.”

Miller struggled again in the eighth inning as he walked Kris Bryant and allowed a Ben Zobrist single with two outs. But Miller — who allowed two hits and two walks for the first time all season in 77 appearances — struck out Kyle Schwarber to strand the pair.

The Indians’ key acquisition before the July 31 trade deadline threw 46 pitches, the most he’s thrown in a game since Sept. 8, 2011, when he was still a starter.

Indians manager Terry Francona wouldn’t commit to whether or not he’d use Miller in Game 2 on Wednesday. Francona cited how Miller bounced back after throwing 40 pitches in a Game 1 victory over Boston in the American League Division Series and would have been ready if needed. But any number of factors could keep Miller from pitching, and Francona is happy to have a 1-0 series lead in his pocket.

“I don’t know,” Francona said. “He was ready to come back and pitch the next night. I just think there’s a lot that can happen.

“But we won tonight. I think when you have a lead, you try to win.”