Around the Horn Talk Writers’ Roundtable: Playoff Talks Heating Up Edition

By: Kyle May

Barton Silverman/The New York Times
Barton Silverman/The New York Times

As we wrap up the regular season, many battles are still going on. September baseball is full of classic battles and creates lots of news in the baseball world. Lets take a look at some of the biggest storylines in baseball right now.

The Lead-Off

1. What are your thoughts on Tim Hudson’s decision to retire after this season?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): Tim Hudson has had an excellent career and I think it is a good decision to retire. However, since the Giants probably won’t make the playoffs this year, I think that he should have retired after the Giants won the World Series last year.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): I am not shocked by Hudson’s decision. His time is up and I applaud him for accepting that his career must come to an end. Hudson has had a great career. Now it is time to open up another chapter of his life.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer)Personally, I admire an athlete who knows when it’s time to retire gracefully from their individual sport. This season Hudson has been largely ineffective in the one hundred-nine and two-thirds innings he has worked. At one point this season he was demoted to the bullpen. He’s had a good career (221-132) with an ERA of 3.49.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer)I admire his decision to hang it up. This year has been rough for him, as he has had his first season with a 4+ era since 2006. On top of that, to date he has only pitched 109 innings compared to 189 last season, so it looks very likely that father time has caught him. Hudson has had a remarkable career, and really has nothing left to accomplish, as he got his elusive ring last year on the Giants.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer)Eventually everyone has to make a decision as to whether it is time to retire or keep playing. I think that by Tim Hudson making the decision on his own is far better than to keep going and having a team make him retire so to speak. Always better for a player to decide on his own.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer)Tim Hudson has had one career that will be cherished for the ages. Although he has never won a Cy Young award, the man has just been a remarkable role model that had what it took to win ball games. With not much left to give, and the Giants just falling short of the playoffs; it makes perfect sense for Tim Hudson to retire.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer)Hudson has had a very nice career, showing his staying power after his early successes with the A’s and the Braves. Good for him, and he doesn’t really have anything else to prove. Being a 4-time All-Star and World Series champion, he’s reached the apex of an excellent career, and he’s not too far out of the HOF conversation, in my view. He pitched admirably in both leagues.

Ed Cahill (Reds’ Writer)Tim Hudson has earned the right to leave the game of baseball on his own terms, just the same way as Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have done the last couple of seasons. While I do not believe that he is even close to having the numbers to be considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he has had a very nice, productive career, and I wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors.

2. Can the Texas Rangers catch the Houston Astros for the AL West crown?

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The AL West is still up for grabs. Even the Angels have a slim shot at winning the division. Ultimately I think that the Astros will finish ahead of the Rangers in the AL West, but the Rangers are fully capable of winning the division.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Yes, the Rangers can catch the Astros. The Astros have been struggling lately and the Rangers are on a hot streak. The Astros, however, can catch fire quickly, something that they have showed this season. My prediction is that the Astros will win the AL West crown by 2.5 games.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer)I believe it is possible for the Rangers to catch the Astros. However, I don’t see this possible scenario as being too probable. Quite simply, my answer is no.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer)Yes they can catch the Astros. As of this post, the Rangers trail Houston by just a game and half, and they will face each other on Monday in Arlington for a big four game series.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer)Can the Rangers catch the Astros? Yes. Will they catch the Astros? No. The Astros are all in on winning this thing and are not about to let it slip away.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer)At this point I have more faith in the Texas Rangers winning their division than MY New York Yankees catching the Toronto Blue Jays. The question is: will Houston allow the Rangers to make the jump from first to second? The answer is no. However the Texas Rangers do play the Houston Astros 7 more times which will decide the outcome of this race for first place.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer)The Astros have had a bit of a rough go of it as of late, going 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Rangers (as of Saturday morning, 9/12) are only 1.5 games back of the Astros. In terms of narrative purposes, it would be a real shame if the Astros couldn’t hold on to the division crown. The worst to first narrative has been an enormous part of the discourse this season,and it will be up to veteran leaders like Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel to try and steady the ship. The Rangers, on the other hand, have overcome a disastrous start to the season and emerged as key contenders for both the division and the AL Wild Card. My gut says the Astros will pull it out, but it will probably go down to the last couple days of the season. In a related note, I’m still not counting out the Angels; they are only 4.5 GB and still have a series and a half against the Astros before the end of the regular season.

Ed Cahill (Reds’ Writer) It is absolutely possible for the Texas Rangers to catch the Houston Astros. Trailing by only 1.5 games going into Saturday’s action, Texas will square off with Houston seven times between now and the end of the season, including four games at home beginning on Monday, Sept. 14. Texas is 8-4 against Houston this season, which includes a three-game sweep at Houston from May 4-6 and a three-game sweep at Texas Aug. 3-5. In addition, of the Rangers’ 21 remaining games, 15 at at home, while the Astros play 11 of their final 20 games on the road.

3. Should the Mets limit any of their pitchers’ innings?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Mets should monitor their pitchers’ innings, but they should not shut down anyone for the season. Their best option would be to sustain a 6 man rotation for the duration of the regular season and then convert to a 3 man rotation in the playoffs. In the playoffs they should have a short leash on all of their starting pitchers and have another starting pitcher ready to go out of the bullpen. They also could mix in a 4th starter given their depth.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): The Mets should let all of their pitchers loose, except for Matt Harvey. Harvey needs to skip some starts and only be allowed to pitch in their big games. The last thing the Mets want to do is push Harvey too far, in which his arm gives out, which could lead to another potential tear.

Charles Wenzelberg/UPI
Charles Wenzelberg/UPI

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer) I am not a fan of pitch and/or innings limits for the Mets or any other team.  Pitch and inning limits are a relatively new practice in MLB.  By the time an individual reaches the  Major League level, players and managers should be mature and professional enough in their assessments and abilities to not depend on an arbitrary set of numbers.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer)Yes the Mets should limit the innings of their young pitching to keep them fresh for the postseason. Barring a collapse, the Mets are a lock to win the NL East, and keeping their pitching fresh should be a top priority.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer)I am not a big fan of inning limits at all. If a team is in contention and a pitcher has been a regular part of that he should continue to pitch until the season is over or the team is out of contention. There is all summer to rest. The only thing I can see is to possibly skip a start as long as they have a lead in the standings.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer)No the Mets should continue to keep their starting rotation in tack. The only way a pitcher should receive a reduced assignment/start is if they are injured. Should the Mets assign one of their pitchers to shut it down early? The answer is yes because they have a strong set of pitchers that could get them to the playoffs even if one of their starters has to sit.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer)Call me a traditionalist, but I can’t stand the idea of limiting any pitcher’s innings on a World Series contender team! This is the best chance the Mets have had in years, and I don’t see them coming back in 2016 with the same steam; key contributors like Yoenis Cespedes will almost certainly not be back, and the key core of the Mets’ starting rotation is destined for dissolution in this day and age of unbridled free agency. The door is cracked open for the Mets, and they must push through at full speed.

Ed Cahill (Reds’ Writer)One thing that major league baseball fans should remember is that it is a business, and the players are valuable commodities that not only help bring in millions and millions of dollars, but also represent millions and millions of dollars in investments. That said, I think there is way too much emphasis, in most instances, in pitch counts and limiting the number of innings a pitcher can pitch. But that’s a decision that should be made by the team’s management than by the player or their agent. Otherwise, you’ll have utter chaos in the locker room if players can decide when, where and how much they can play.

4. Are the Royals in trouble for the postseason due to Johnny Cueto’s inconsistency on the mound?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Royals are in a lot of trouble if Johnny Cueto continues to pitch inconsistently. Other than Cueto, the Royals do not possess an intimidating pitcher that can shut down playoff caliber offenses. If Cueto can’t step up, I don’t see the Royals going very far this October.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): If Cueto is struggling then the Royals should be worried. Cueto is the only starter on that rotation that can strike fear into the opposition’s lineup. Cueto is the pitcher I would send to the mound in the big game. I am not saying the other Royals starters are bad, but Cueto is more clutch than the other starters.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer)Cueto is one of those individuals who strikes fear in the hearts of opposing batters.  If I were managing or in a game as a hitter, I would not look forward to facing him.  If I were managing, I most definitely would want him on my team.  In the playoffs, a manager usually goes with a three man starting rotation.  The player line-ups are changeable for each round of the playoffs.  Cueto is a tough veteran.  If I were Ned Yost, I would start Cueto in game One of the Divisional Series regardless of his performance between now and the start of the post-season.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer)No, I think the Royals will benefit from having Cueto lead their postseason rotation. I would be shocked to see him continue to struggle mightily like he has been since joining the Royals in July.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer)I don’t believe the Royals are in trouble for the postseason, however I think they will look back at this deal as one that they really didn’t need to make. Cueto, in my mind is going to be the odd man out when it comes to setting the postseason pitching rotation. They can’t take a chance with his inconsistency.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer): It is hard to go against Johnny Cueto, but in this particular situation there have been red some flags with his performance as of late. The thing about great athletes is they find ways to win on the big stage, and with that being said we will find out a lot about Johnny Cueto come October.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer)Cueto’s bouts with inconsistency have been well documented, but I have to think that the Royals still would feel comfortable giving him the ball in a big game. Who else could they turn to? Cueto is a veteran pitcher with great stuff, and he has to be the #1 guy. Keep in mind that the Royals’ inconsistencies with starting pitching hurts them less because of their excellent bullpen and their explosive offensive potential.

Ed Cahill (Reds’ Writer)Having followed Johnny Cueto’s career with the Cincinnati Reds over the past several seasons, I have come to appreciate just how competitive he can be and just how valuable a pitcher he has been, especially on my fantasy baseball teams. Don’t worry, Kansas City Royals fans, Johnny Cueto will rise to the occasion!

Grand Salami

Who is in the best position to win the NL Cy Young Award: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, or Clayton Kershaw?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): This trio is very hard to pick from, but I really like Jake Arrieta. His no-hitter is something that the Dodgers’ duo, Greinke and Kershaw, lacks this season and he has been equally as dominant as them and has won lots of games for the Cubs.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): It is tough to pick because all 3 have been terrific all season, but I will stick with Zack Greinke. Greinke has been winning this debate since before the All-Star game. Greinke has been the best pitcher overall this season. It will be shocking to see Kershaw or Arrieta beating out Greinke. #GreinkeForNLCyYoung

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer) Who knows what thought process drives the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in their decision making when voting for the Cy Young Award.  In 2009 Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants won the Cy Young without having the majority of the first place votes.  In 2009 as in 2015 you have two pitchers from the same team in competition with one another.  In 2009 Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals were in the same position as Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are today.  Two writers from each MLB city are eligible to vote.  It became public in 2009 the two writers from St. Louis split their individual votes; one voting for Wainwright the other voting for Carpenter.  In 2009 Wainwright was listed first on twelve ballots.  Lincecum was listed first on eleven.  The BBWAA use a 5-3-1 tabulation system in counting the Cy Young writer’s votes.  A first place vote earns five points, second place three points, third place gets one vote.  In ‘09 Lincecum received twelve second place and nine third place votes, for a total of one hundred.  Carpenter received nine first place votes, fourteen second, and seven third for a total of ninety-four votes.  Wainwright received five second place and fifteen third place votes for a total of ninety.  Greinke and Kershaw could experience what Carpenter and Wainwright experienced in 2009; vote splitting.  Purely based on performance Wainwright (19-8) 2.63 ERA or Carpenter (17-4) 2.24 ERA should have won the Cy Young over Lincecum (15-7) 2.48 ERA.  Greinke should win.  Jake Arrieta, due to vote splitting, may win.

Adam Tenenbaum (Cubs’ Writer)It will come down to Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has been lights out the second half of the season, as he is 9-1 with a 0.93 ERA. Greinke is currently the leader if the season ended today, as he possesses the better ERA, WHIP, and BAA, while Arrieta leads in Wins and Strikeouts. If somehow Arrieta makes up ground in ERA, he will be the Cy Young, but as of right now it’s Greinke’s to lose.

Todd Bultman (Brewers’ Writer)This is a toss up for me. I think it comes down to Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta with the nod going to Arrieta because of his late season dominance being fresh in the mind of the voters. The no-hitter sealed the deal in my mind.

Johnny Losada (Yankees’ Writer)Currently I’m going to have to vote Zack Greinke. The guy has been consistent all year long, and his numbers show it. Zack Greinke has given up the least amount of running showing pure dominance in a tough National League. I think Greinke wins, but it will be close between him and Jake Arrieta. The next few weeks will give us a better indication of who will win the award. I expect Jake Arrieta to play much harder with the Chicago Cubs trying to get in front of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central.

Daniel Garay (Orioles’ Writer)This is one of the more intriguing Cy Young races in recent memory, in that you have two teammates and a sparkling young gun from an emerging team in the NL. This is mostly a question of “who should win”, and I think Greinke has proven himself worthy with his extended performances of brilliance, be it his several scoreless appearances or his miniscule WHIP. I do think that Kershaw also has a chance to win based on his name alone; you also can’t count out a guy in Jake Arrieta who threw a no-hitter and has stifled hitters for the whole year. Ultimately, I believe Greinke should get the nod.

Ed Cahill (Reds’ Writer)I would think that if it were a choice between Greinke and Kershaw, you would have to lean more toward Greinke, who has more wins, a lower earned run average and a lower hits+walks/innings pitched average and does not trail Kershaw by very many strikeouts. Arrieta has certainly pitched himself into consideration for the award and, depending on how the final three weeks of the season go, could edge out Greinke. If Arrieta wins 20 games and Greinke doesn’t, I would bet the Cy Young goes to Arrieta, especially if the Cubs make the playoffs.


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