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Playoffs Thread: OAK at MIN (2), LAD at NYM (1), DET at NYY (2)

First up, we now have Adam Stern, completing the Javy Lopez trade from August.

Second, get voting in the 2006 CC.com MLB awards!

Oakland at Minnesota - Game 2, ESPN, 1:05

Oakland leads series, 1-0

Esteban Loaiza, RH (11-9, 4.89) v. Boof Bonser, RH (7-6, 4.22)

Loaiza had a second half that everyone is starting to overstate a little. He won eight games, but posted a 4.01 ERA. He was fairly good, sure, but he was hardly dominant.

This is sort of must-win for the Twins, but they aren't in terrible hands. Awesome name aside, Boof Bonser can pitch. His second half was very good (5-4, 3.62), and he steamrolled through September, with a 4-1 record and 2.63 ERA in six starts. Bonser is capable of helping the Twins even this one up, and Loaiza is still Oakland's weak link among the four guys starting.

LA Dodgers at NY Mets - Game 1, ESPN, 4:05

Derek Lowe, RH (16-8, 3.63) v. John Maine, RH (6-5, 3.60)

Maine was very good for the Mets. It was still just 90 innings, and a lot of guys have had 90 good innings at some point in their careers, and lots of guys have started off their careers with 90 good innings. I don't mean to discount that Maine helped the Mets and used to be an Oriole, and our No. 1 pitching prospect for a time at that. But let's consider this: Being Baltimore's No. 1 pitching prospect at that time wasn't saying much, and Maine also never developed in our system, had a history of arm abuse at the college level, and was going nowhere fast. Instead of Maine, we acquired a grown-up Maine that helped stabilize our 2006 rotation. John Maine did well, but I'm hardly up in arms that we dealt him yet. When he really proves something over a full season or two, I'll talk shop then.

Now here he is thrown into the playoff fire thanks to El Duque's injury, which has knocked him off of the Mets' NLDS roster. He's taking on a red-hot Dodger lineup and pitching against Derek Lowe, who had a fine, fine season, though it was certainly helped by Chavez Ravine: 3.18 ERA at home, 4.13 on the road. Lowe is certainly no stranger to the postseason, so he'll be ready to roll. Maine wasn't even supposed to be out there, plus this is a lot of pressure with the New York media glaring at this game after the Yankees won their first one last night.

Detroit at NY Yankees - Game 2, ESPN, 8:05

NY Yankees lead series, 1-0

Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.63) v. Mike Mussina (15-7, 3.51)

Do I think Moose had a better year than Wang? Short answer: Yes. Moose had a tremendous season that sportswriters and the like noticed early, but when he wound up at the very Mussina-like 15 wins instead of Wang's 19, it was WANG! WANG! WANG! Wang this, Wang that. Not to discount Wang's season, he was really good. Story of Mike's life: Pitch really well, 15 wins. Mussina was a little rough from June through August, though he recovered with a nice September. Wang was consistent all year. So I guess maybe I might simply be saying, "I'd rather have Mussina on the mound than Wang if a game five or game seven comes up."

Also, it's not like sportswriters should have been singing his praises in the middle of the year when he was kind of up-and-down, so that's not really a dig. It just surprises me that the Skip Baylesses of the world (who spend their time arguing that the '61 Yankee lineup is the best Yankee lineup ever, a statement that caused me to rationalize between shitting and going blind) aren't going, "Hey, wow, he ended up with good numbers, let's kiss him on the mouth!"

Let's not even talk about how Verlander finished, because mentioning that and the fact that the Yankee lineup is murder on right-handed pitching pretty much makes this one the type of game you can just guess at. Aw, shucks, let's go into it. Verlander posted ERAs of 6.83 and 4.82 in the final two months of the season, where he gathered five of his nine losses. He looks tired. The entire Tigers team looks tired. I don't like to say this, but they cannot beat the Yankees. They do not have the players to do it.