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MLB Today: Red October Rolls On

October 17, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Bryce Harper is having another stellar playoff run for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Once again, Bryce Harper is lightning rod for Red October. (Sports Illustrated)

Bryce Harper hit a b-day dinger; the Rangers keep rolling; and Trevor May, on his way out of the game, had some choice words for the A’s owner. Let’s see what else is going on in the world of baseball…

Phils Keep Rolling

Once again, Red October is a thing. The Phillies wasted little time in dispatching Miami, and then took out arguably the best team in baseball (Atlanta) with minimal resistance.

And now Philadelphia — thanks to an incessant onslaught of homers — has even managed to finally hand upstart Arizona its first loss of these playoffs.

The Phillies still have some work to do before claiming their first World Series title in 15 years, but right now they look virtually unstoppable. From Harper’s dramatic swats (see video below) to Nick Castellanos being red hot and Kyle Schwarber finally jumping into the fray, this team is firing on all cylinders.

The domination has been especially noticeable in Philly against fellow NL teams — that’s 10 straight home playoff wins vs. National League opponents.

Snakes Have Work to Do

It’s become very clear, very quickly that Arizona has a tough road ahead if it hopes to win the NLCS. The Snakes are the underdog (+1.5) in Game Two Tuesday as per odds at FanDuel.

Worse yet, Arizona ace Zac Gallen has gotten progressively worse in each of his three postseason starts, and was downright bad in Monday night’s series opener. He was so good to begin the season, but struggled in June and (especially) July, and also had a tough finish. Gallen may have shattered career highs in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts this season, but his bottom line numbers paled compared to 2022.

The D-Backs are going to need him to channel his early season form if they have any hope of making a series out of this.

Clearly, Arizona doesn’t have the boppers to match Philly, but shortstop Geraldo Perdomo accounted for two of the team’s three runs in Game One with a homer, marking back-to-back games he’s gone yard. He stepped up his power game a bit this season (a career-best six jacks in 139 games, after hitting just five in 148 in 2022), but no one saw this coming from him on the big stage.

Perdomo proved he can hit MLB pitching this season, but is likely on borrowed time with top prospect Jordan Lawlar breathing down his back next season.

Andrew McCutchen Bounces Back

Andrew McCutchen actually enjoyed a pretty solid bounce back in his return to the Pirates this year. He didn’t see as much action, and injuries — as usual — slowed him, but considering how much PT he had, his counting cat numbers were good, and he hit well.

Interesting, McCutchen’s career is more and more aligning with former two-time All-Star outfielder Brian Giles. Giles had a very fine career as an on-base machine, but a domestic abuse issue caught on video ended things for him.

As for McCutchen, he’s a free agent this winter, but it’s clear he can still provide value in a sheltered role in which he’s not expected to take 500 at-bats. At the very least, let’s hope he hangs in there for at least one more long ball… it’ll be No. 300 of his fine career.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American rock legends Grand Funk Railroad got their start in 1969, and despite three separate breaks, remain active today. They hit their peak in the ’70s thanks to classics like “We’re an American Band,” the title track from their seventh album, released in 1973.

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