Pitching in on the Division Championship Series
With a no-hitter and four shutouts in the League Division Series and no team scoring more than seven runs in any single game, it seems as if pitching has dominated the postseason thus far. Perhaps it has but not to the extent that I thought before checking the numbers.
Through the first 14 games, the eight teams have combined to score 89 runs, an average of 6.36 per game. Don't get me wrong. Run prevention is down from the regular season. Way down. As in 38 percent down. But runs per game are off just 19 percent vs. the 2009 LDS and only 11 percent excluding the two contests in Colorado. Meaningful but not off the charts.
Like this year, no team scored more than seven runs in any LDS last fall. John Lackey and Darren Oliver combined to throw the lone shutout in Game One against Boston. In 2010, Oliver once again was part of a combined shutout, completing the final 2 1/3 innings to preserve the 6-0 whitewash for C.J. Wilson and Darren O'Day in Game Two against Tampa Bay.
Roy Halladay threw the most talked-about game of all, tossing only the second no-hitter in the history of the postseason. Halladay walked one and struck out eight while facing only one batter over the minimum as Philadelphia beat Cincinnati to set the tone in Game One in what became a three-game sweep. Teammate Cole Hamels closed out the series with another shutout, allowing just five hits and no walks while fanning nine Reds.
As impressive as those shutouts were, Tim Lincecum pitched the most dominating game of them all in terms of Game Score. The Freak pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out 14 while giving up only two hits and one walk.
Both Halladay and Lincecum will be well rested when they square off in Game One of the NLCS on Saturday. Neither starter will have thrown a pitch in competition in at least nine days. At first blush, it would seem as if the long rest may benefit the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lincecum slightly more than the 6-6, 230-pound Halladay. However, it should be noted that the latter threw his no-no nine days after his final regular season start, which incidentally was a two-hit, no-walk, complete-game shutout on longer than normal rest.
Over in the ALCS, the New York Yankees have to be loving the fact that Cliff Lee and David Price will be facing one another tonight, meaning neither starter is likely to face the Bronx Bombers until Game Three on Monday. That said, the winner of tonight's rubber match will have their ace ready to go in the finale on four days' rest should the ALCS go the distance.
But first things first as there will be no ALCS for the losing team tonight. Only golf clubs and fishing rods.