Shutouts May Not Continue But MadBum-Type Efforts Needed

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Pitching Effectiveness Will Determine Playoff Winners

Ten major league playoff teams have been cut down to eight in the past two days. Pitching has been the key as the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs won league wild-card games to advance to the division playoffs. Houston’s 20-game winner Dallas Keuchel, and Chicago’s 22-game winner Jake Arrieta, silenced the bats of the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively, by pitching shutout ball in win-or-go-home appearances.

Not only did the wild-card games advance Houston and Chicago to best of five series against Kansas City and St. Louis, the efforts by Keuchel and Arrieta all but wrapped up the league Cy Young Awards for the two pitchers.

Keuchel and two relievers stymied the slump-ridden Yanks in a 3-0 win at Yankees Stadium Monday, and the young, power-hitting Astros will start against American

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Keuchel Arrieta And Other Hurlers Will Determine World Series Title

League Central winner Kansas City today hoping to duplicate last year’s Royals run to the World Series. Kansas City lost the World Series in seven games when San Francisco rode the lefthand pitching of Madison Bumgarner to a 3-2 final game victory.

Arrieta, who has enjoyed possibly the best two month period of pitching in the history of baseball, fashioned a route-going four-hitter to thwart the Pirates, 4-0. Pittsburgh, which won the second most games in the majors this year with 98 victories, lost in the National League wild-card game for the second straight year. Last season Bumgarner and the Giants played the spoiler, eliminating the Bucs.

The Cubs, with baseball’s top executive, Theo Epstein, in place, have young talent at almost every position, and have parlayed Arrieta’s outstanding down-the-stretch efforts to finish with the third best record in baseball (amazingly, NL Central teams had the three top records, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs).

In spectacular, dominating fashion, Arrieta finished the season 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts. The former TCU hurler won 11 straight games since he last lost on July 25th when he allowed three runs against the Phillies. After that game his ERA stood at 2.61. The Cubbies jumped on his back in late July, and won eleven of his next

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Jake Arrieta Has Thrown Best Two Months In MLB History

thirteen starts, Arrieta walking away with two no decisions when he gave up only two runs in each game. He compiled a .24 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .132 batting average in those games. His clutch shutout of the Pirates has him poised to have possibly as good of a post-season as Bumgarner did last season.

Bumgarner pitched in seven games during the 2014 post-season and compiled a 4-1 record with an outstanding 1.03 ERA. He pitched 52.2 innings, allowing 28 hits while walking six and striking out 45. He was 2-0 in the World Series with one save.

Hitting and defense will play their regular roles in determining the league pennant winners, but pitching will be the difference maker. It was last year, and it should be again this season.

Keuchel and his teammate, righthander Collin McHugh, Toronto’s David Price, Arrieta, the Mets’ Jacob DeGrom, and the Dodgers outstanding duo of Clayton Kershaw and

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Arms Race Starts Today

Zach Greinke, are all capable of carrying their teams to the playoffs winner’s circle. Kershaw was only (for him) 16-7 this season with a 2.13 ERA, while Greinke posted a 19-3 record with a 1.66 ERA.

Kershaw, who compiled a spectacular 21-3 record last season with a 1.77 ERA to capture his third Cy Young award in four years, suffered through another disappointing post-season last year. After dominating during the regular season, he was staked to a four-run lead in his first playoff start, and pitched six innings of one-hit ball in his second start. He faced 11 batters in the seventh inning of the two games, giving up nine Cardinals hits, and losing both games. It marked the second straight season Kershaw had lost two playoff games to the Cardinals. Kershaw goes into the 2015 playoffs with a 1-5 record and 5.12 ERA in eleven post-season appearances.

While many experts predict hard-hitting Toronto or St. Louis will win this season’s World Series, I predict pitching will be the deciding factor. Bumgarner was the man last year, now it is time to see which hurler, or hurlers, can carry their team to the 2015 World Series title.

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