On the 9th edition of the Friday Covers Podcast, Matt and Brandon welcome in Greg Calarco as a special guest to discuss the Final 4 and the Terrible Twosome makes picks on MLB season prop bets!
The 2015 MLB season is in the books, the Royals are champions, and the GM meetings are underway. The only thing left to do before turning the calendar to 2016 is to hand out the awards. So, without further adeiu, Matt Neverett and Kendrick Fruits reveal their award-winners from the 2015 MLB season.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP:
MN- Josh Donaldson. With his rise to prominence in the most potent lineup in the American League and Trout’s strikeout total and lack of basepath dominance, Donaldson was the best hitter in the league and the emotional leader of a 93 win team.
KF- Donaldson. No doubt about it, Donaldson was a huge power source (41 home runs) in the Toronto lineup this year, and his bat was sorely missed when he was out of the lineup. He is a main reason why they made it to the ALCS.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP:
MN- Bryce Harper. His .330/42 HR/99 RBI stat line was accented by some of the farthest home runs in recent memory. This was the season Bryce was dreaming of when he skipped a year of high school to enter the draft early.
KF- Anthony Rizzo. Yes, Harper and Nolan Arenado were the best players in the NL this year, but I can’t give a MVP award to a guy who didn’t even make the playoffs. Rizzo was the productive “veteran” in a young Cubs lineup, hitting .278/31/101 and playing a great defensive first base.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
MN- Dallas Keuchel. Any pitcher in the modern day that achieves 20 or more wins like Dallas Keuchel did is more than deserving of at least consideration for the award. It also helps when you get a 2.46 ERA and have 216 strikeouts.
KF- Keuchel. I must admit I thought about David Price, but 20 wins from Keuchel really sold me. His numbers were really similar to Price’s, but at the end of the day, Dallas gets the nod.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
MN- Zack Greinke- 222.2 innings during any season is an accomplishment in itself, but when you finish with a 19-3 record, 200 strikeouts, and a legendary 1.66 ERA, it equals a Cy Young. Congrats Zack.
KF- Jake Arrieta. Matt, I see your 222.2 innings, 19 wins, and 200 strikeouts, and I raise you 229 innings, 22 wins, and 236 strikeouts. The 1.77 ERA isn’t too shabby either.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
MN- Jeff Banister. People forget that the Rangers were the second worst team in baseball last year. This season they made a huge mid-late season push to attain the division championship. I think the winner is obvious here.
KF- A.J. Hinch. The only thing obvious to me is that the award should be given to an AL West manager. Hinch, whose previous best record was 58-75 in 2009 (partial season), took an Astros team with young, unproven talent from 70 wins to 86 and their first playoff birth since moving to the American League.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
MN- Joe Maddon.The Cubs were in a similar situation as the Houston Astros in the sense that they were not supposed to compete for another few years, but they defied the odds in Maddon’s first season. The way he managed one of the youngest starting lineups was remarkable and his leadership showed throughout the year.
KF- Maddon. No argument here, Maddon did a phenominal job, just as Hinch did, guiding a young team that wasn’t expected to contend into a playoff team. What makes Maddon’s season especially notable is that he made the most out of a suspect bullpen and shaky back-half of the rotation.
AMERICAN LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER:
MN- Alex Rodriguez. I know Kendrick’s going to like this one, but anyone who can miss an entire season and return at age 37 to have his best season in the last 5 years deserves the award.
KF- Prince Fielder. Ugh, I wanted to take A-Rod, but being a diehard Yankees fan, I saw him struggle mightily down the stretch. Prince overcame a serious neck surgery to slash .305/23/98 for the AL West champion Texas Rangers. Yes, its good to be the Prince.
NATIONAL LEAGUE COMEBACK PLAYER:
MN-Joey Votto. This is a great story about a great player who had been plagued by injuries since the 2012 season. His second half of this season was remarkable; hitting .374 in his last 58 games and hit .314 on the season.
KF- Matt Harvey. I thought about Votto, but remember, had Terry Collins stuck to his gut in the last game of the World Series, it may not have been the last game, and we could have been talking about how Harvey pitched 8 dominant innings to keep the Mets alive. That goes with a 13-8, 2.74 ERA regular season and gets my vote.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
MN- Carlos Correa. For a guy who didn’t even play 100 games this season, he may have been the AL’s best shortstop period. His .279/22/68 statline is desirable for any shortstop (or hitter for that matter), let alone a rookie.
KF- Correa. Copy and paste what Matt said, but add the fact that he made some bigtime plays with the glove as well. I will say though, the Indians’ Francisco Lindor made this choice a little tougher than I anticipated.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
MN- Jung-Ho Kang. Call me biased, but Kang’s impact on the Pirates was real and measurable in his 126 game splayed this season before his knee injury. He played his way in to the daily lineup after not beginning the season expecting to see much playing time at all.
KF- Kris Bryant. Really, can I nominate pretty much the whole Cubs’ lineup? In all seriousness though, after a slow start, Bryant hits .275/26/99 to go with 13 steals and is part of the incredible young and talented nucleus of Cubbie power.
AMERICAN LEAGUE FIREMAN OF THE YEAR:
MN- Wade Davis. As the anchor for the best bullpen in baseball Davis led Major League relievers in ERA, opponent’s batting average, OPS against, and was second in WHIP. His dominance helped KC capture their first World Series title in over 30 years.
KF- Andrew Miller. Miller was as lights-out as it gets, converting 36-of-38 save opportunites, including his first 24 in a row, thanks to a 0.86 WHIP and a 2.04 ERA. He and teammate Dellin Betances became the first Yankee relievers to both K 100 batters in the same season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE FIREMAN OF THE YEAR:
MN- Mark Melancon. As glad as I am to nominate another Pirate, Melancon is a deserving candidate. He lead the Majors with 51 saves in 53 chances, set a career high with 78 appearances and went to his second All-Star Game, and his 0.93 WHIP ranked sixth in the NL.
KF- Jeurys Familia. Another tough decision, and Melancon is definitely a fantastic pick, worthy of the award, but Familia wasn’t even supposed to be the Mets closer this year, and he steps up with 43 saves and a 1.85 ERA. He shortened games for the Mets all year with his ability to record 2 inning saves.
Today’s News and Rumors:
- YANKS TRADE MURPHY TO TWINS- In a one-for-one swap, the Yankees have traded catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for Aaron Hicks. A surprsising move for Minnesota considering their up and coming talent, but they apparently feel confident in prospect Byron Buxton to be ready very soon. Also, the deal could mean the Yankees may be listening to offers for Brett Gardner. Joel Sherman from the New York Post reports the Yankees may be in talk with the Mariners involving a Gardner deal.
- WILL THE DODGERS KEEP GREINKE?- Reports out of the LA camp say that the team is prioritizing Zack Greinke over adding David Price. The Dodgers must be considered front-runners, but the San Francisco Giants are interested in Greinke as well, who would more than fill the hole of the now-retired Tim Hudson. Dodgers are also said to be looking at Daniel Murphy (no indication as to whether this interest arose after Murphy torched them in the NLDS).
- RELIEVERS ON THE MARKET- The Red Sox, Tigers and Rangers are all expressing interest in Joakim Soria as a late inning option. The Tigers have also been linked to Padres closer Craig Kimbrel. The Braves may be looking at low cost options such as Jonathan Papelbon or Sean Marshall. Darren O’Day has received many offers, notably from the Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, and Giants. Projections are that O’Day will command a 3-year salary in the neighborhood of $22 million.
- CUBS TO BOOST ROTATION?- It is unknown at this time whether the Chicago Cubs plan to be extremely active in the market this offseason, but at the very least, they are giving that impression, as they are set to talk with Zack Greinke, David Price, and Jordan Zimmerman this offseason.
Written by Kendrick Fruits
If there was ANY doubt whatsoever that the Royals may be in trouble after surrendering 11 runs to Toronto on Monday night, it was eliminated very quickly tonight. Specifically, it was eliminated in the top of the 1st inning today as the Royals coasted to an easy 14-2 won over the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Royals chased Toronto starter R.A. Dickey from the game in just the second inning, and after Liam Hendriks provided some stability, the Royals proceeded to batter the pitching of LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, and Ryan Tepera. Its difficult to pick a hitting star for the Royals, because they had contributions from so many players. Ben Zobrist was 2-5 with a 2 run homer. Alex Rios homered in the 7th. Alcides Escobar drove in 4, and Lorenzo Cain plated 3. In fact, third baseman Mike Moustakas was the only Royal who failed to register a hit, but he still drove in a run. All told, Kansas City outhit Toronto 15-7 and this game was never in doubt.
KANSAS CITY NOTES:
Team Effort. As previously mentioned, the Royals picked up contributions up and down the lineup, including 5 players recording multiple hits, 4 players scoring multiple runs, and 3 players driving in multiple runners. Their offensive prowess today was so evident that even Paulo Orlando, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the 7th, collected 2 hits in 2 trips to the plate.
Young effective, but short stay. Royals starter Chris Young did a good job keeping the Jays hitters off balance, surrendering a pair of runs in 4.2 innings, throwing only 78 pitches. The Royals proceeded to use Luke Hochevar before turning the ball over to the dominant back end of the bullpen (Madsen, Herrera, and Morales). Young did his job, and gave the Royals a huge boost by practically lulling the Toronto hitters to sleep, before the Royals ‘pen turned up the heat.
Disappointing day for Dickey. The former NL Cy Young winner and owner of 11 victories this year hardly looked like an ace pitcher today. The Royals had 3 runs across before Dickey even recorded a single out in the first inning, and he ended up allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks. The other run was scored on a passed ball. The play was reviewed but the call was confirmed.
Bullpen woes continue. Going into the 2015 season, many teams talked about building up their bullpen to match up with the Royals come postseason time. It seems safe to say that the Blue Jays simply cannot match up with them. If Toronto is going to win another game in this series, you can bet they will have to score early, and have their starter go deep into the game because the Royals are simply feasting on the arms that come out of the Toronto ‘pen to the tune of 13 runs in 2 days.
Bats go back to sleep. A night after erupting for 11 runs, the Blue Jays manage only 2, on a Donaldson double and Bautista single in the 3rd inning. Toronto batters struck out 8 times today and the KC relievers all needed a very minimal amount of pitches thrown to get through the back half of the game. In fact, Franklin Morales’ 9th inning was the only inning in which a Royals reliever needed 15 pitches to get through. Toronto is going to have to be more selective at the plate tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 21st
ALCS GAME 5. Royals lead series 3 games to 1.
PROBABLE STARTERS: KC- Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55) TOR- Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Both teams used their bullpens heavily today, and it will be interesting to see who will be available for tomorrow’s game. The Royals should be a little more concerned in that aspect (albeit only slightly) because in Game 1, Volquez looked like he was on the ropes through 2 innings, but ended up throwing a solid 6. Obviously the bullpen concerns for Toronto make it paramount that Estrada goes 6 at the very least, although we could see the struggling David Price come in to relieve if manager John Gibbons deems it necessary.
MY PICK: Momentum is real, and the proof of its existence lies in a great bullpen and an offense that feels like they can score at will any moment they choose. Tonight the Royals showed they can produce up and down the lineup, which should certainly be a cause of concern for Toronto. The Royals win tomorrow, and advance to their second straight World Series.
written by Kendrick Fruits
There’s just something strange about baseball in Canada this year.
The Toronto Blue Jays saw a 7-run lead evaporate in the 9th inning, but still held on to defeat the Kansas City Royals 11-8 in Game 3 of the ALCS. The Blue Jays win cuts the Royals advantage in the series to 2 games to 1. The Blue Jays offense scored three runs in the second inning, and then added 6 in a monstrous third inning. Troy Tulowitzki homered, and later in the frame, Josh Donaldson went deep to give the Jays a 9-2 lead (and knocking Johnny Cueto out of the game in the process). After a mini-rally by the Royals, Ryan Goins homered to put the Jays in double digits. Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman pitched into the 7th frame, but was hit hard, allowing 11 hits on the evening. Once Stroman left the game, things got hairy. In the 9th inning, Liam Hendriks lasted only 1/3 of an inning, giving up 3 hits. With one run already across, the Jays wasted no time bringing in Roberto Osuna, who was promptly greeted by a towering blast by Royals DH Kendrys Morales. Osuna then got Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez to end the wild and strange game.
–That’s more like it. That is the Toronto offense we saw the last half of the year. That is the explosive Toronto offense, capable of erupting at any moment. And boy, did they do so tonight! It seemed only a matter of time until they broke out of their “slump”, having looked overmatched by Royals’ starters Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura in Games 1 and 2. The linescore shows the Blue Jays were actually outhit by Kansas City 15 to 11, but the difference was that Toronto was able to string their hits together to produce some big innings. Troy Tulowitzki seemed to finally be breaking out of his slump, until a strikeout late in the game led to his ejection.
–Marcus Stroman pitched into the 7th inning, allowing 11 hits, but did a really nice job limiting the damage and spreading out the hits. It was clear early on that Stroman did not have his best stuff, and relied heavily on his changeup to keep Royals hitters off balance.
–Concerns in the pen? Toronto has a young bullpen (excluding the ageless LaTroy Hawkins), and that bullpen has been an area of concern this year, and tonight’s game proved that those concerns are validated. The Royals nearly mounted a comeback in the 9th inning, and we have repeatedly seen the Jays ‘pen look shaky throughout the postseason. Therefore, it seems paramount that Toronto starters go deep into their games.
KANSAS CITY NOTES:
–The hole was just too deep. KC starter Johnny Cueto failed to record a single out in the 3rd inning while surrendering 8 runs. The Royals offense scratched and clawed, and (thanks to Kendrys Morales) mashed their way back into this game, but couldn’t overcome the deficit Cueto put them in. Cueto continuously missed his locations, both in and out of the strike zone, walking 4 and giving up 6 hits. It was a far cry from his masterful performance in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Astros. If Cueto gets another chance to pitch this postseason, he will certainly need to bring his ace stuff to the hill. Anything less than that may not be enough against this Toronto lineup.
–Medlen saves the day. With Cueto’s early departure, the Royals faced the unfavorable proposition of wearing out their bullpen. Enter Kris Medlen. Medlen threw 5 innings of 2-run ball, stabilizing the mess left by Cueto, and giving manager Ned Yost a chance to rest the top-notch bullpen and save them for a more high-leverage game.
–A Royal Rally. As the Kansas City Royals have shown throughout this 2015 postseason, you can never ever count them out of a game. With their backs against the wall in Houston, the Royals continuously rallied late to win. In Game 2 of the ALCS, they could do nothing with David Price for 6 innings before erupting for 5 runs in the 7th inning. Again tonight, they almost pulled off a miraculous comeback. Yes, they lost the game, but for a team down 9-2 and 11-4 at points in the game, to almost come from behind and win after doing it so many times when it mattered most, the Royals were able to salvage some confidence in their offense’s ability to produce in the clutch.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20th
ALCS GAME 4 @Toronto. 4 PM on FOX Sports 1. (Royals lead series 2-1)
PROBABLE PITCHERS: KC- Chris Young ( 11-6, 3.06) TOR- R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91)
What to Watch For: With two soft-tossers on the mound, it will be a battle of which offense can be the most patient, which is a battle that favors the Royals. Dickey has had an up and down year, but looked good in his last outing vs. Texas. With the Blue Jays seeing power pitching throughout the playoffs, it isn’t unthinkable that they may struggle tomorrow against Chris Young.
MY PICK: It’s tough to pick against a momentum-dependant team that just lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 11 runs, but I’m gonna do it anyways. ROYALS win, and take a 3-1 series lead.
NLCS GAME 3 @Chicago. 8PM on TBS. (Mets lead series 2-0).
PROBABLE PITCHERS: NYM- Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54) CHC- Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95)
What to Watch For: Can the Cubs solve the masterful Mets pitching? The Cubbies have lots of young power hitters who thrive in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, but with the way the Mets have been pitching, it doesn’t matter where you play, you won’t be scoring much off of them. deGrom struggled a little with command in his last game and got his pitch count way too high, way too early, so watch for him to rebound and try to keep the ball in the yard.
MY PICK: I see no reason why I shouldn’t pick the Mets. Dominant pitching from everyone on the staff and clutch hitting up and down the lineup is a winning combination. Mets take a 3-0 series lead tomorrow night.