Sunday, August 19, 2018

Statis-Pro AL Playoff Blog: Yankees, Indians Win Game 6s to Eliminate BoSox, Astros

After flirting with a .700 season most of the year the Boston Red Sox may make the 2018 World Series, and the defending champion Houston Astros also could do it - but in Statis-Pro joined two other virtually equally matched teams during a regular season in which all four finished between 36-24 and 38-22. In the playoffs, it was the other two super teams, the Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees, who prevailed in six games to advance and face each other in the ALCS.

In the NL, the Brewers' Mike Moustakas hit two homers and Cy Young winner Chase Anderson threw a 1-hitter in a 5-1 win that puts them up against the Diamondbacks in the next series, with the winner facing the Cubs-Dodgers winner in the other Best-of-seven (see NL blog here). The AL series are best-of-seven so no elimination games yet (see below for updates). Also, the MVP, Cy Young, Fireman of the Year and Rookie of the Year were just announced here.

Playoff results will be kept at the top here (the 2017 and 2016 brackets appear at the bottom of this blog).

Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox - one game wild card. Results: Boston 3-0, advances to face Yankees in best of 7.

Red Sox (1) vs NY Yankees (2) best of 7. Results: Game1 Yankees 4-1; Game 2 Yankees 4-2 (10); Game 3 Red Sox 4-3. Game 4 Yankees 6-5 (12).

Houston (2) vs. Cleveland (3) best of 7. Results: Game 1 Cleveland 1-0; Game 2 Cleveland 8-6 (10); game 3 Houston 7-3, Game 4 Houston 2-1.  Game 5 Cleveland 1-0.

Notes: This bracket was generated here. Click for the NL Playoff blog or AL regular season standings or wrap up of the AL season. To play your own games instructions and the dice and cards you need click here, and once you've reviewed how to play the game just click here to play.
 and final standings are here.

Blog previews and an account of games (will be added to chronologically while results main at top).

Wild card: Red Sox 3, White Sox 0. Ironically as we lined up the teams to start the 2018 AL Statis-Pro playoffs, ESPN aired a piece on the trade of Chris Sale from the White Sox to the Red Sox. Sale shut out his old team 3-0 to set up a classic Red Sox-Yankees best of 7.

Astros vs. Indians Recaps

ALDS - GAME 1 - Corey Kluber and Dallas Keuchel had a duel for the ages, allowing a combined 5 hits, 3 walks and striking out 20. Bradley Zimmer stole 2nd with 2 outs in the fifth and scored on a double by Yan Gomes to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. The only Astro to get in scoring position was Jose Altuve, who reach on an error, stole second, raced to third on a comebacker to Kluber, and then raced home on a grounder to a drawn in Francisco Lindor at short who gunned him out at home. The only other threat Kluber faced was a lead off single by George Springer in the 9th and then a rain delay - but he retired the last three to win 1-0 and give the Indians a 1-0 lead in the series without even tapping their incredible pen.

GAME 2. For me as an Astros fan, this was a tough one to play out. The Astros managed 15 hits including two homers by Altuve en route to a 5-0 lead for Verlander in the 6th. Unfortunately this series features the ultimate mismatch of bullpens. Verlander finally ran out of steam in the 9th and the Astros Devenski, who has the best relievers card for the Astros but would be the 7th best if he were with the Indians, faced 5 batters and gave up one hit, 2 walks, and two outs on drives to the wall that advanced runners to help the Indians tie the game 6-6 and force extra innings. Andrew Miller easily outdueled Osuna in the 10th. He struck out the only three he faced - Gattis, McCann and Springer, then Osuna allowed a single to Chisenhall and a homer to Gomes to make it two games to none. On defense Chisenhall and Zimmer gunned out runners at home - making 3 Astros nailed at the plate in 2 playoff games - and catcher Gomes (a gold glove nominee in the past) went into the stands to catch a foul most couldn't have gotten to end another inning.

GAME 3. Morton did what Verlander could not do in Game 2, throw a complete game to hold onto a 4-run lead in the 9th and not risk the shaky Astros bullpen. The Indians are always happy to go to their incredible bullpen, and went to Fireman of the Year runner-up Andrew Miller with two Astros on and a 3-3 tie in the 7th. However, Gurriel drilled a clutch three-run homer to give the Astros a 6-3 lead, and in the 8th Gonzalez drilled a clutch double off Cody Allen to make it 7-3 Astros - which turned out to be the final. Correa and Altuve homered earlier in the game, but the score was tied due to an unearned run after an error by Bregman at third base and a two-run double by Ramirez to tie the score 3-3 in the fifth inning. Game 4 could be a slugfest as the first playoff match-up of two mediocre PB2-6 starters in Gerrit Cole for the Astros and Trevor Bauer for the Indians. Both are awesome this season in real play, but both have weaker cards from subpar 2017 seasons. The Astros win assures a Game 5 match-up of Cy Young winner Kluber vs. Keuchel.

GAME 4. Cole made it into the 7th allowing only a home run to Gomes, and Osuna and Devenski matched shutout relief of the Indians great pen in a 2-1 win. The offense came on a home run by Correa and rbi-double by Altuve, and despite the Astros being thrown out by Gomes on all three attempted steals to make Gomes clearly the MVP of the game despite the loss. The win ties the series at 2-2 and guarantees the Astros will still be alive to return to Cleveland for at least Game 6 even if they lose to Cy Young Award Winner Kluber in Game 5.

GAME 5 - MCann's passed ball with 2 outs gives the Indians a 1-0 win in game 5. Kluber hung only a couple of pitches. In the 7th with speed on second and third and one out, he hung one to Springer who struck out when almost any contact would have scored Reddick. In the 8th he hung one to Altuve with 1st and 3rd and 2 outs and Altuve grounded out. Earlier in the game he hung one to Correa who just misses for strike three on a home run swing. Lindor made two great plays at short and Kemp was picked off in the 1st. Astros must win 2 in cleveland to prevail!

Red Sox vs. Yankees Recaps

GAME 1 - Aaron Judge's home run off David Price broke a 1-1 tie and the Yankees went on to win 4-1 in the series opener. Chris Sale will not pitch until Game 4 since he was needed in the wildcard game. Andrew Benintendi led off the series with a home run, and in the 9th laid down a bunt single and ended up at 3rd base to put men on the corners and tying run at the plate.

GAME 2 - Aaron Judge homered again in Game 2, then went deep in the 10th inning off Fireman of the Year Kimbrel to give the Yankees a two games to none lead heading to Boston. In between, the Yankees forced extra innings with defense. Judge also gunned down Mookie Betts at the plate in right field, something that even a great arm his only guns down a runner about once every eight tries. Then to top that, Gardner also threw out a Red Sox at home. Both get the highest defensive ratings due to being nominated for gold gloves. Judge was third in the MVP race, while Kimbrel was 8th. The Red Sox do have Chris Sale, who finished 13th and was second among pitchers for the Cy Young, going in Game 4 but will need to win Game 3 to have a realistic chance to rally unless they believe they can repeat the 2004 miracle and rally from down three games to none against the Yankees.

GAME 3 - Down 3-1 in the 6th inning the and 2 games to none, the Red Sox continued to show the value of being the only team in the AL with multiple players able to execute the hit-and-run play. With Benintendi on third, JD Martinez broke for second and Nunez singled in the hold to cut the lead to 3-2 and Martinez cruised into third. Nunez then broke for second, thus avoiding an inning-ending double play as Betts grounded out to tie the game 3-3. Then Steve Pearce, who homered earlier in teh game and was acquired from the Blue Jays to give the Red Sox more right-handed balance, doubled to make it 4-3. With the pen mainly depleted from the extra inning game 2 loss, hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi, who was also acquired to balance the three left-handed starters and is throwing 97 mph after last year's Tommy John surgery, pitched into the 7th inning. With the Red Sox top two relievers (including Fireman of the year and PB2-9 Kimbrel) unavailable, the only bullpen left (PB2-6 Rodriquez) just had to come into to face lefty Gardner for the final out of the 7th, and then the one remaining PB2-8 Velazquez, who has good endurance (RR7) came in for the two-inning save. The Yankees still have the edge, but with Cy Young runner-up Chris Sales started Game 4 for the Red Sox, they have a real chance to win and turn this into a best-of-3 during which all solid (PB2-7) starters would be going for both teams. If the Yankees had won, Gardner looked like the MVP with a diving catch and double play in left field in the first inning, and then his second outfield assist in the fourth to nail Pedroia trying to score from second. Bradley also popped up a bunt that Sanchez caught and turned into a double play as the Yanks took the 2-0 lead.

GAME 4. The Red Sox gave Cy Young runner-up a 3-0 lead, then wasted his 15 strikeout performance with three infield errors that sent the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 11th, an apparent game-winning double by Nunez was robbed by centerfielder Hicks on a tough z-play to keep the game 5-5. Fireman of they Year Kimbrel had to yield in the top of the 12th due to already pitching three perfect innings with strikeouts and Kelly struck out the side in the top of the 12th, but the one runner he was allowed was a home run to Gardner that provided a 6-5 Yankees win. The three Red Sox pitchers combined for 24 strikeouts - believed to be an all-time record for a losing effort., but Devers (one of the worst fielding third basemen ever with an E9) threw the ball away with two outs in the seventh to put the Yankees ahead 4-3. Pedroia doubled in a tying run in the bottom of the 8th off one PB2-9 pitcher Robertson, but then Pedroia dropped a throw to second in the 9th and then Torres scored to make it 5-4 Yankees. A single by Betts and the double by Vazquez scored a run off another PB2-9 in Green to tie the score again and force extra innings. The Red Sox would now need to win three straight games without a start from Sale, and with Kimbrel unavailable in Game 5.

End of Regular Season

The Statis-Pro regular season wrapped up August 19 with the same top four teams that were the top four in 2017 and were in the top four in the current season - Boston, New York, Houston and Cleveland. All four teams finished within four games of each other - between 36-24 and 38-22. However, several great Statis-Pro batting cards helped the White Sox emerge as the surprise 5th team to face the Red Sox in the wild card game.

JD Martinez grounder to Yankees rookie Andujar at third to eliminate the Red Sox 4 games to 1, and Andujar bobbles it. The PB 2-9 Robertson (onky allows hits on 11-16 BUT as a lefty Devers fights off a single (87 always a singlesrunners advance 2 if lefty vs right pitcher's) pitcher. Red Sox lose advantage next battler with a righty vs right since Steve Pearce pinch hit for Bradley earlier against Chapman and - as pictured - BD (clutch batting happens 1 in 20 times if meb in base to replace PB) and as pictured 21 on Pearce's BD is a base clearing double and Red Sox win 5-4 to take it back to Yankees Stadium and bring back ghosts of 2004. Valazquez retires last 10 Yankees for win.

Playoff Preview of Killer Statis-Pro Player Cards

Playoff reviews point out any KILLER Statis-Pro cards on a playoff team. This include a home run range of much better than the AL average HR: 27-32 (4 of 64 numbers from 11-88 base 8), a PB2-9 relief pitcher (keeps action off of batters’ card 30 of 36 rolls/card flips as one of top 5% of pitchers) or PB2-8 starters (top 15% of pitchers able to go deeper into game keeping rolls/card flips on 26 of 36 rolls.

Playoff Preview: Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox (wild card game)

The Red Sox are the slight favorite, joining the Yankees, Astros and Indians as the top four teams both in 2017 (on which the Statis-Pro cards are based) and 2018 (on which the rosters are based). While the real White Sox team was well behind the fifth and final playoff team in 2017 (Twins) and A’s that would be the surprise 2018 team if the season ended today – it was more than just the small sample size of the Statis-Pro season that helped the White Sox become the best of the rest in Statis-Pro.

Because the Red Sox Sale (11-4 record with 1.49 ERA) will face the White Sox Giolito (9-6, 2.23) in the wild card game, the winning pitcher will not be available again until Game 4 against the Yankees, thus getting only one start.

If Boston wins WCWLERAGmsYankees PitcherWLERA
Price, Boston873.161&5Severino, New York1051.86
Pomeranz, Boston336.512&6Happ, Toronto-NYY486.98
Eovaldi, TB-Boston212.793&7Sabathia, New York1022.09
Sale, Boston1141.494Lynn, Min-NYY421.86
If Chicago wins WCWLERAGms
Lopez, Chicago933.251&5
Shields, Chicago4116.142&6
Santiago, Chicago843.723&7
Giolito, Chicago962.234

WHITE SOX PITCHING KILLER CARDS - NONE. While the White Sox pitching is bad in Statis-Pro just like in one life, in Statis-Pro they do have the one good starter you need for a one game playoff - Lucas Giolito. While in real life this year he has been terrible with a 6.15 ERA in 24 starts, his Statis-Pro card is based on last year’s promising 2.38 ERA in seven starts that gave such hope for this year. He gives up few hits or walks, and his PB2-7 is strong for a starter to keep the ball off the powerful Red Sox cards over half the time (rolls of between 2 and 12 mean 21 of 36 card flips or dice rolls keep the action on his card – and his card actually calculated as a PB2-8 but our rules require at least 10 starts or 20 relief appearances to have a PB2-8 card). Pitching overall is weak, but they have one strong starter for the one game they need. If they beat the Red Sox, they will throw very mediocre PB2-6 starters in Games 1-3 and if necessary 5-7 against the powerful Yankees and would be bigger underdogs. The pen added two PB2-8s in Luis Avilan from the 2017 Dodgers and newcomer Jace Fry, if they can get to the late innings with a lead.

WHITE SOX BATTING KILLER CARDS – A. Garcia HR41-44, Abreu HR33-38 and Castillo HR31-37.  Where the White Sox are much better in Statis-Pro than in real life is their line-up, which started the season with these three killer cards and then three other nice power hitters to round out a very strong line-up that can challenge even Chris Sale and has let them outslug teams into the playoffs. In real life they have not had two of those three killer bats and also two of the three additional power hitters fell way off in power to turn a very strong Statis-Pro line-up into a well below average real team. Only Abreu is the killer bat in real life, as Avisail Garcia is now batting 100 points lower than the .330 average last year that led to his (HR: 41-44.). Welington Castillo (31-37 HR) was acquired to give them a great defensive hitter and cleanup batter, but was suspended for most of the year. Of the three extra power hitter, Daniel Palka still looks good but Nick Delmonico (HR: 24-32) and only 5 HRs all year this year, and Leury Garcia (HR 33-36) has fallen off to just 4 homers off the bench this year. One final difference is that the real White Sox lineup is weighed down by one of the worst hitters in baseball - Adam Engel – for his defense in centerfield, whereas he never plays in Statis-Pro. This line-up is how they beat out the A’s and Mariners at the end of the year for the final wild card spot.

BOSTON KILLER PITCHER CARDS: Sale PB2-8 starter, Kimbrel PB2-9 closer. The Red Sox have solid PB2-7 starters all the way through the rotation and strong relievers to set up Kimbrel, so they are in much better position to beat the Yankees in a Statis-Pro series, if they can survive the wild card game. The risk in the one-game playoff is that as great as Chris Sale’s PB2-8 card is for an ERA just under 3.00 ERA last year, it is not the absolute shutdown PB2-9 card he would have this year for his 1.90 ERA.

BOSTON KILLER BATTER CARDS: Martinez HR25-38, Nunez HR41-43, Pearce HR26-32. As great as the Red Sox top 12 hitters are – letting them platoon and hit from the one through nine spot – the one reason their Statis-Pro line-up is not nearly as good as their real line-up this year is Mookie Betts. While Betts may be the best player in baseball this year and his card might rival Martinez for the best Statis-Pro card in the league if based on this year, his card from last year is absolutely average (HR 27-32). The Red Sox have an edge with a deeper line-up than the White Sox, and a line-up that can compete with the Yankees, but the difference is not nearly as huge on the mound or the line-up as it obviously is against the White Sox in real life.

Playoff Preview: Chicago/Boston at NY Yankees

NEW YORK KILLER PITCHER CARDS: PB2-9 relievers Green and Robertson. The Yankees do not have a killer PB2-8 starter like Boston, but all four starters are strong PB2-7, and they then have two PB2-8 relievers who can pitch as early as the middle innings, before going to the two killer PB2-9 for the final three innings. They were one of three shut down AL Statis-Pro pens this season, but two factors leave their bullpen slightly worse than the Statis-Pro Indians and A’s. The only strong left-hander is Aroldis Chapman, who is actually the closer this year with a 2.11 ERA but whose Statis-Pro card from last year is just a PB2-7. Also, the Yankees traded away Adam Warren to Seattle, who was their third PB2-8 reliever. A great, solid pitching staff of starters and relievers and the only time they could have a disadvantage on the mound would be a Game 4 vs. Boston Red Sox’s Sale.

NEW YORK KILLER BATTER CARDS: Gregorius HR33-38, Sanchez HR26-35 and three with a ton of walks which actually pushes the HR range down – Gardner HR28-33, 9 walks-HPB, Judge HR25-35, 11 W-HPB, Stanton HR22-34, 10 W-HPB. These 5 incredible Statis-Pro cards and two of the top 3 rookie Statis-Pro cards make this line-up the best in the AL and would challenge the Red Sox but certainly could overpower the White Sox pitching if they win the wild card.

Playoff Preview: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians

Houston PitchersWLERAGmsCleveland PitchersWLERA
Keuchel, Houston1051.681&5Kluber, Cleveland1230.75
Verlander, Houston963.902&6Clevenger, Cleveland1142.97
Morton, Houston873.723&7Carrasco, Cleveland695.58
Cole, Houston1053.534Bauer, Cleveland874.09

HOUSTON KILLER PITCHER CARD: Keuchel 2-8 Starter. The Statis-Pro Astros are about just as good as the real Astros, but everything is reversed. While Keuchel is the only killer pitcher in Statis-Pro and will need to face Statis-Pro Cy Young winner Corey Kubler in game 1, in the real 2018 season he is decent and the other three starters are killers – Verlander, Cole and Morton. Unfortunately in Statis-Pro Verlander’s card is good but not great since it includes his mediocre season for the Tigers last year, and Cole is a mediocre PB2-6 because he was not that good with the Pirates last year, as is ace closer Hector Rondon (2.42 ERA this year but only PB2-6 from last year), and newly acquired Ryan Pressley and Roberto Osuna have only decent PB2-7s while the one killer reliever from last year Ken Giles was traded away. The Astros pitching is very vulnerable throughout the playoffs as the Indians are much better, while in the real season it is the strength.

HOUSTON KILLER BATTER CARDS: Altuve HR41-45, Correa HR33-38, Springer HR27-35, Gurriel HR36-41, Marisnick HR22-31. While the Statis-Pro pitching is much worse than real life, the batting is much better with five killer bats and great hitters that platoon at several spots. The Astros will likely need to score a lot of runs to beat the Indians.

CLEVELAND KILLER PITCHER CARDS: Kluber only starter PB2-9 in AL and won the Cy Young with a 12-3 mark and 0.74 ERA as clearly the best pitcher in the league; three PB2-9 relievers Miller, Otero (though on the 40-day roster now) and former Padre Hand. Cody Allen just missed to be one of five PB2-8s, meaning the Indians pen can literally take over in the 1st inning if a starter struggles and keep a PB2-8 and PB2-9 the rest of the game. Kluber gives the Indians a great chance in Games 1 and 5, though in the opening round his opponent Keuchel is one of the top 5 Statis-Pro cards. While the bull pen was not as good this year, adding Hand and PB2-8 rookie Cimber from the Padres and the chance for Miller to take his time coming back from the injury certainly gives them the pitching to have every chance to compete for the AL title and a World Series appearance.

CLEVELAND KILLER BATTER CARDS:  Lindor HR28-35, Ramirez HR35-42, and two with incredible walk numbers (which pushes the HR and other hit numbers down) Alonso HR24-32, with 10 walks or Hit By Pitch and more incredibly HR 22-28 and 14 walks-HPB. The Indians line-up is awesome, though a notch below the Statis-Pro line-up of the Yankees and Astros.

In 2017, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros in the Statis-Pro AL Championship before losing the Statis-Pro World Series to the Chicago Cubs.

In 2016, the Houston Astros defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the Statis-Pro AL Championship and then went on to beat the Chicago Cubs in the Statis-Pro World Series.

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