We knew it would come to this.
It just had to, didn’t it?
Great article over at fivethirtyeight.com that has a ranking of the Top 20 World Series games ranked by win probability added – which is basically a stat that ranks how much a teams chance to win changes on every single play – and adds them all up together for a composite score.
This World Series has two games (5 and 2) on that list – and we still have Game 7 tonight. The list has faults to be sure, but as you might expect if you watched it, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series ranks at the top of the list. What is important to remember that we might remember big moments like a Bill Buckner miscue or Jason Heyward rallying his team in the clubhouse hallway during Game 7’s rain delay last year – but this metric measures how every play affects the whole series chance of a team winning. Incredible.
(Editors note: Also, this list apparently supports my assertion that as great as Game 7 was last year – it was more the most meaningful game of all time than the actual greatest game of all time)
Nerd-talk aside, as George Springer said, “You don’t dream as a kid about Games 2,3,4…you dream about Game 7 of the World Series.” Now we have one.
We have the top two teams in baseball who battled in that Game 5 and the Astros sent their undefeated ace Justin Verlander to the hill against the Dodgers Rich Hill. The Astros even got the lead early but couldn’t hold on. More surprisingly, the Dodgers even scored a few runs not by the home run.
Like in Game 2 – Dave Roberts pulled Rich Hill “early” in favor of his bullpen. Except this time it worked. Brandon Morrow looked sharp and it was if Game 5 never happened. Jansen was again asked to work two innings, but this time he responded with 3 strikeouts, allowed no hits, and only needed 19 pitches. The Dominant Dodger Bullpen appears to be back.
So now we look for Game 7. Neither teams “ace” – Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander – will start the night on the mound. Verlander threw 93 mostly good pitches Tuesday, and Kershaw threw 94 many not as good Sunday, but both could come in tonight if necessary.
Instead we have Lance McCullers Jr and Yu Darvish, both of whom matched up in the Astros 5-3 win in Game 3. Darvish was pulled before he finished the second inning, and McCullers allowed 3 before he was done with 6. In this game though, the starts are basically just seen as relief pitchers who get the start. There is no need to hold any pitcher on the roster back.
This is the first time we’ve had back to back Game 7’s since the 2001-2002 World Series, and in fact we’ve been blessed with 3 of the last 4 World Series going to Game 7.
Madison Bumgarner threw five shutout innings in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. Randy Johnson threw 1 1/3 innings to finish out Game 7 of the 2001 World Series – which of course the Diamondbacks won in walk-off fashion against Mariano Rivera. So we know anything is possible. This World Series just is an incredible display of two top teams playing at high levels and stretching their bodies mentally and physically until the very last drop of energy is wrung out.