Lance McCullers of the Houston Astros is starting against Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Seven of the World Series. That’s an all-star matchup, but it’s the last game of the year, the managers won’t hold back with bringing in their bullpen. It’s more likely that, unless either pitcher is tossing a perfect game, that by the fifth inning, the matchup will be Dallas Keuchel versus Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw said, “I can go 27 innings. Whatever they need.” Clearly, he’s willing to follow in the footsteps of former Dodger and MVP of the 1988 World Series, Orel Hershiser, and sacrifice his arm for a ring.
Darvish got rocked by the Houston bats in Game Three and didn’t finish the second inning, while McCullers led his team into the sixth inning before leaving. Granted, McCullers gave up three runs, Darvish allowed four, but as I said in the title, “Starting pitching will make no difference in Game Seven.”
Why won’t it make a difference? Well, A.J. Hinch and Dave Roberts are smart managers, they understand that they have no possibility of playing another game after tonight, so they understand that they can throw literally every reliever they have in the game and take out the starting pitcher as early as they need.
If George Springer and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the ballgame, Roberts will probably call to the bullpen and have Kershaw or Alex Wood start warming up their arms. If Chris Taylor starts a three-run first inning with Yasiel Puig on deck behind Cody Bellinger, Hinch is going to get Keuchel and Justin Verlander up and stretching. These managers have every starter and reliever at their disposal tonight because as far as this season goes, there’s really no tomorrow.
If history tells us anything, Darvish will not be productive and McCullers will be able to go at least six innings. Considering that LA has a much, much better bullpen, the ‘Stros have to make sure that McCullers can go as long as they need, and Keuchel is ready to take the hill. Game Seven is just like the All-Star Game in how managers manage it: just put everybody in when one guy starts to get tired.