Monday, October 29, 2018

A deserving champion

And thus ends the 2018 major league baseball season, with a deserving champion. The best team won October's torunament. The Boston Red Sox won 108 games in the regular season and went 11-3 in the postseason, defeating two other 100-win teams in the AL playoffs. The only loss they had in the World Series took 18 innings.

There should be no quibbling about the Series. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took a lot of heat (and will continue to do so) for his pitching moves, but with the exception of that 18-inning Game 3, it really didn't matter much who he used. The Red Sox hit them, and the Dodgers bats couldn't keep up.

What stood out in the pitching line was how heavily Alex Cora leaned on his starters to relieve between starts. Each of his four nominal starters relieved at least twice during the tournament, with Nathan Eovaldi being worked so hard in relief he didn't actually make a World Series start.

Eovaldi is an ... interesting ... topic. He's had a injury-plagued career, with two Tommy John surgeries. He has a career ERA of 4.16. He has always had outstanding velocity but lower strikeout rates than one would expect from a starter who can hit 100, but he seems to have finally developed secondary pitches that can miss bats.

He's not yet 28 and headed into free agency. And I am curious how that will play out this winter. His willingness -- even eagerness -- to put his career at risk during the Series was apparently inspirational to his teammates, and was matched by David Price who was similarly hard-used/abused by Cora. But Price is getting paid and will get paid for years to come. Eovaldi's future is nowhere near as secure.

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