MLB Playoffs: The 2-0 Panic Index

Welp, so much for baseball’s issue with too much parity, I guess.

Excluding the Game 2 that has yet to happen between the Dodgers and Nationals because of an untimely rainout this afternoon, every single Division Series so far is two games to zero in favor of one team. Some results have been surprising – Toronto over Texas, anyone? – while others have been rather predictable – the Cubs are winning and the sky is blue, things are still normal.

When a team is down 2-0 in a best of 5 series, panic mode should be fully activated because one more loss means the season is over – something Buck Showalter apparently didn’t fully understand on Tuesday night.

However, some teams should be panicking much more than other teams should be panicking. So, without further adieu, I present you with Ryan’s 2-0 panic index. I don’t have a scientific system here so just bear with me, it might be rough.

San Francisco Giants Panic Meter: 4 out of 10

Look, the Giants knew what they were getting into before this series even started. The Cubs won 103 games, have the motivation of breaking a 108 year curse, and have Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hitting 3rd and 4th in their lineup.

If we excluded the fact that this was an even year and these were the Giants, San Francisco would be hopelessly doomed in this series before it even started. But, alas, these are the Giants and this is an even year so, call me crazy, but I think the Giants still have some magic left in them.

Kontos - Scott Strazzante - SF Chronicle.jpg
Photo by Scott Strazzante for the San Francisco Chronicle

Madison Bumgarner is pitching game 3 at home. This is as close to an automatic postseason win as you can possibly get during the MLB Playoffs. The man has a 1.94 ERA in his playoff career and has thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings during the postseason.  Put him in front of a raucous San Francisco crowd and you might as well just chalk up a game 3 win for San Francisco.

If Bumgarner loses on Monday night and the Cubs sweep the Giants, we all just have to admit that it really wasn’t the Giants year this year. However, if you’re wondering why I have the Giants at a lowly 4 out of 10 on the panic index, let me ask you this. Do you remember 2012?

Down 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants won a momentum shifting, 2-1 game in 10 innings to pull themselves right back into the series before winning the next two games to advance to the next round.

If the Giants of the past have taught me anything, all it takes is one win to snatch momentum and confidence to your side, and the series becomes up for grabs. And, with Bumgarner pitching in the postseason at AT&T Park, it’s hard to not like the Giants chances of grabbing that momentum changing win.

The reason the panic meter isn’t any lower right here is because we have to look beyond game 3, and it looks really rough for San Francisco.

Should there need to be a game 4, Chicago has their own postseason stud, in John Lackey, toeing the slab. The Giants will counter with left handed Matt Moore, and the Cubs sport a team OPS of .807 against left handed pitching this season.

Do I understand that Madison Bumgarner is also left handed and thus has an equal chance of succumbing to the Cubs’ crushing of lefties? Yes, I do, but do you also understand that he is Madison Bumgarner and this is the postseason?

I rest my case.

To me, this series breaks down into how the cookie of game 4 crumbles. Bumgarner will win game 3, but how will the Cubs respond? Will they be the Cubs and crush a lefty in game 4? Or will the Giants continue to sell their souls to the baseball gods and continue this crazy run?

Either way, after game 3 on Monday night, we’ll have ourselves a series.

Boston Red Sox Panic Meter: 7 out of 10

Well, this certainly isn’t how Boston had the final playoffs of David Ortiz’s career being scripted. Not only are they down 0-2 to the Cleveland Indians, but David Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are a combined 3-25.

Ouch.

And, on top of everything, Cleveland has beaten Boston aces Rick Porcello and David Price, whose postseason demons have apparently followed him to Boston after Friday’s outing in which he gave up 5 runs while only recording 10 outs.

Things look pretty rough for Boston right now. Their two best pitchers have been tagged by Cleveland, the bullpen as thrown 10.1 innings over the past two days, the three best hitters in the lineup are hitting .120, and Boston’s game 3 starter, Clay Buchholz, posted a 7.20 ERA in two starts against Cleveland this season.

Tons of things to get excited about right there.

Red Sox - John Wilcox - Boston Herald.jpg
Photo by John Wilcox for the Boston Globe

But, the fact remains that Boston’s lineup can break out at any point in time. The Red Sox led the league in runs scored and OPS during the regular season by a wide margin. As generalized as it may be, this is an offense capable of breaking out at any point in time and putting up double digits in the run column.

Also, take a look at the back end of both rotations and what do you see? It’s a total crapshoot. Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez vs Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer on 3 days rest. And, considering that Porcello only threw 4.1 innings in game 1, he could be available as a tandem option should Rodriguez get into trouble during his potential game 4 start.

Does it look dire? Yeah, it sure does, but baseball is weird and Boston can score. Until that offense has no more chance to score, Boston will be dangerous.

Texas Rangers Panic Index: 9.9999999 out of 10

Is Texas Toast still a thing? If it is, the Blue Jays will be eating a lot of it on Sunday afternoon.

The pieces were all there for a good pun and I just didn’t execute it. Shame on me.

Anyway, down 2 games to 0, Texas is toast.

Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, Texas’ only two quality starters, got tagged in the first two games, while the vaunted Texas offense could only muster up 3 combined runs against Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ. Everything in Arlington is dark clouds and football right now, and the Rangers are dead.

Mitch Moreland.jpg
Photo by Louis DeLuca for the Dallas Morning News

Toronto has won two games, rather easily, with Marco Estrada and J.A. Happy pitching. Aaron Sanchez, the American League ERA leader at 3.00, is pitching game 3 for Toronto in front of the loudest crowd in baseball. And Texas will try to shut down a Toronto offense that has posted 20 runs in 3 games and a .866 OPS by trotting out……Colby Lewis.

Everything is self-explanatory in this series. Toronto has smashed Texas’ two best starters, shut down Texas’ offense without even using Aaron Sanchez yet, and is headed back home with a 2-0 lead.

Really, the only reason that this isn’t a 10 out of 10 on the panic meter is because baseball is weird and anything can happen.

But, I don’t buy that in this series. Texas is dead, bag it and tag it.

……….

There’s absolutely no way that I ever would have bought into the idea that three out of the four division series would include the first two games being won by one team – with the possibility of that fourth series being 2-0 as well.

Baseball has seemingly had a parity issue for the past few years, but these playoffs are doing their absolute best to dispel that notion. For context, in 2015, 3 out of the 4 division series were tied 1-1 after two games, and the same thing happened in 2014.

With as weird and random as the baseball playoffs can be, to have three teams winning the first two games of a Division Series is just strange; especially considering how tightly matched it appeared as though all of the match-ups would be.

Baseball is a weird and wonderful thing, and that’s why we love it.

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MLB Playoffs: The 2-0 Panic Index

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