Breaking down Saturday's Division Series games
Now that all four Division Series are off to lopsided 2-0 starts, let's take a quick look at how such series play out. There have been 88 best-of-5 postseason series in major league history, 54 of which have seen one team jump out to a 2-0 lead. Of those 54 series, 35 ended in sweeps, nine were decided in four games and 10 went the distance. Of those last 10, seven saw the team down 0-2 comeback to win the series (those seven comebacks are listed on the right).
So, a comeback from an 0-2 deficit is almost as common as the leading team winning 3-1 and is more than twice as common as the leading team losing Games 3 and 4 before winning Game 5. That said, only one team has ever come back from losing the first two games of a best-of-five series at home, which is what the Cubs and Angels are hoping to do. That was the 2001 Yankees, who came back against the A's starting with the "Jeter flip" game. Those Yankees were also the only of the seven comeback teams to win their next series, beating the 116-win Mariners before falling to the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the World Series. Still, 13 percent of all teams down 0-2 have staged a comeback, which on its face means there's a 50 percent chance that one of this years' series will result in a comeback win. In fact, if you consider that all four series started 2-0 last year as well, the odds actually favor a comeback this year.
Note that the home team won every game of the first four series in the chart to the right as baseball used a 2/3 homefield split then. The last three series listed used a 2/2/1 split.
Still, the Phillies look like the '27 Yankees next to the Brewers.
That could change this evening as we move toward the back of each team's rotation, but the pitching matchup still favors a Philly sweep. Last year, Moyer started Game 3 of the NLDS on the road trying (and failing) to avoid a sweep. This year he starts Game 3 on the road looking to complete one. The majors' oldest player has been a road warrior this year, posting a 2.92 ERA away from the City of Brotherly Love. In his last visit to Milwaukee, in April, he held the Brewers to one run in six innings. Over his final 16 starts of the season, Moyer went 9-1 with a 3.28 ERA and allowed only six home runs. Toward the end of that stretch, he fell one out shy of another quality start against the Brewers in Philadelphia.
The Brewers counter with Bush, who has been significantly better at home than on the road this year (3.50 ERA at Miller Park) and finished strong by going 4-1 with a 3.43 ERA over his last ten starts, including a quality start against the Phillies. However, he's susceptible to lefty hitting, particularly lefty power hitting. Southpaws have slugged .473 against Bush this year, and the Phillies, led by lefty power bats
The Cubs made five errors in Game 2, giving Chicago fans flashbacks of
Expect that trend to continue tonight as the Dodgers send groundballer
Harden has been almost absurdly dominant this year, allowing just 5.84 hits per nine innings while striking out 11.01 men per nine. He struck out 10 or more batters in five of his first eight starts as a Cub, and Chicago went 9-3 in his 12 starts following his acquisition from the A's in early July. Harden posted a 1.77 ERA in those 12 starts and, just like the Brewers behind Sabathia, in the three games the Cubs lost behind Harden, they were outscored by just four runs. The only concerns about Harden since his arrival in the senior circuit have been his health and his walk rate, the two of which seemed to converge in September.
Injuries limited Harden to just 72 2/3 major league innings over the last two seasons, and after making his first two starts of this season, he missed a month with a strained muscle in his pitching shoulder. Though he appeared healthy, the Cubs skipped Harden's first start in September, explaining that it was just a precaution given his injury history, but one of