NLCS before handing

Модератори: ALEKS, Ianitza

NLCS before handing

Мнениеот elaine95 на 31 Яну 2019 09:26

There are only two other Boston players who have had more than Bradley's nine RBI in an ALCS: David Ortiz (11 http://www.astrosfanproshop.com/authentic-nolan-ryan-jersey , in 2004) and Manny Ramirez (10, 2007). And yet Bradley wasn't even supposed to be here on Opening Day, let alone now. When Boston signed free agent slugger J.D. Martinez to a $110 million deal in February, most folks figured Bradley's ticket out of town came with it. The Sox already had Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts. Now here came the new savior, Martinez.While armchair general managers across the land speculated on a new home for Bradley, he simply kept his head down and pushed forward."No, I was not worried," he says of the potential of a trade. "It was something out of my control."But I'm glad J.D. is here, and I'm glad to still be here. This is what we've all wanted to do, go to the World Series. And, ultimately, we want to win the whole thing."The Red Sox fooled people. Martinez settled mostly into the designated hitter role, and Bradley continued playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field. But as the team raced to a 17-2 start, Bradley was left behind. And it wasn't getting any better.One month into the season, he was hitting .195 with a .290 on-base percentage. Two months in, he was at .199 with a .292 OBP. And at the end of June, he was at .200 and .289.As one of the most popular players in the Red Sox clubhouse, Bradley's locker became a prime tourist area for empathetic colleagues: Betts, Hyers, Dustin Pedroia, assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett and, especially, first-year manager Alex Cora. All rallied around Bradley during his darkest moments and championed him at every opportunity."Asking him, 'How ya doin'?' Things like that," Pedroia says. "He's always going to say, 'Good.' But just putting a hand on him sometimes gets him going."Frank Franklin II/Associated PressAs spring became summer, the feeling among many grew stronger: This Red Sox team was becoming a machine http://www.astrosfanproshop.com/authentic-yuli-gurriel-jersey , and while Bradley's defense remained spectacular, patience isn't exactly overflowing for those who look helpless at the plate. Externally, the howls grew louder: Trade him. Bench him. Do something."What you're trying to figure out is how you get him out of it," says Dave Dombrowski, Boston's president of baseball operations. "Other people are saying, 'Get rid of him.' We never think that way. It's like: 'OK, we know this guy's a good player and will contribute. How do we get him out of it? Give him some days off? Rest him versus lefties?'"By late May, Bradley statistically was one of the worst hitters of any starting player in the majors. He went through one stretch that month in which he was flummoxed by fastballs, striking out 18 times in a 10-game stretch.In June, though he reduced his strikeouts, he still wasn't getting results, except in one category: Boston's analytics staff saw that he ranked toward the top of the league in percentage of hard-hit balls (defined as exit velocity at 95 mph or higher). At season's end, Bradley ranked 12th among the 338 players listed in that category, per baseballsavant.com.It was this nugget of information Cora took to Bradley during one of their frequent talks. The manager delivered this message: Just slow it down. The game, the at-bats, everything. Don't press. You're hitting the ball too hard not to come out of this. You're going to be fine."It's a credit to Alex to step in [at that point] and say, 'Hey, man, I believe in you,'" Hyers says. "It's how he communicates with his players."It was especially a credit because Cora is a rookie manager. His natural instinct could have been to bail on an unproductive player for self-preservation. He didn't.Cora checks in with just about every player every day鈥攅ven if it's just with a quick, cheerful hello鈥攁nd one of Cora's memorable drive-bys with Bradley came when the Red Sox were playing at Yankee Stadium in May. Memorable, at least, to Hyers, who was nearby and remembers Cora simply telling Bradley that day, 'Hey, man, I've got your back.'"Betts knew it would only be a matter of time before his friend got going. He knows him too well. The two were both drafted by the Sox in 2011鈥擝radley 40th overall http://www.astrosfanproshop.com/authentic-jake-marisnick-jersey , Betts in the fifth round鈥攁nd they roomed together in the instructional league that fall. Bradley was one year removed from being named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player while at the University of South Carolina."I was in awe," Betts says. "I watched the College World Series, then I walk into my hotel room in instructs, and it's Jackie there. It took me a second to kind of realize. I didn't want to be a fanboy."The two quickly developed a bond. Over the years, Betts has learned not to underestimate Bradley."He's just a normal dude, a normal dude with freakish talent," Betts says. "I acted normal with him and knew that when we stepped on the baseball field [together], he's about to show something special."David J. Phillip/Associated PressHyers, too, has history with Bradley. Now in his first season as Boston's hitting coach following two years as the Los Angeles Dodgers' assistant hitting coach, Hyers had been Boston's minor league hitting coordinator from 2013 to 2015. It was during that time that he developed a relationship鈥攁nd trust鈥攚ith Bradley.Together as this summer unspooled, they figured out Bradley needed a stronger base鈥攂etter balance in his lower half鈥攁nd to slow down the rotation of his hips. They were firing too quickly during his swings and pulling him off the ball, which delayed his hands enough to have a negative effect."His direction to the ball is better," Hyers says. "He has incredible hands, and I think sometimes his body gets in the way and makes it difficult for him to get to the contact point consistently."Finally, there was a breakthrough. After the All-Star Game, Bradley hit .269/.340/.487, as compared with .210/.297/.345 before it. To those watching him every day, the improvement came in leaps and bounds. To those simply looking at the box scores, well, his numbers were so low for so long that they were never going to spring back noticeably.His bat is staying in the strike zone longer now, and the lefty is driving more balls the opposite way, to left field, which is a very good sign.Nobody is expecting a future batting champion: Lifetime into this season, Bradley's slash line was .239/.318/.407, and his second-half improvement simply pulled his 2018 numbers in line with those: .234/.314/.403. And he's susceptible to left-handed pitching (.185/.260/.303 in '18), which could be problematic against Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw Michael Saunders Jersey , Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill in the World Series.But this also is a guy who slammed a career-high 26 home runs in 2016, punched 17 last year and 13 this year, including eight out of the No. 9 hole. And, his ALCS power show (grand slam in Game 3, go-ahead homer in Game 4) is still hot out of the oven."He's always been a guy who's dangerous when he gets going," Dombrowski says. "When he gets hot, he gets hot. Now what we're trying to do is create a time period when he gets hot鈥攏ot quite like this, although we like this to be there all of the time鈥攂ut then doesn't drop off quite so much."We've gotten much more of that the second half of the season. When he's at the bottom of the order, he's a threat down there. And then you hit him in front of Mookie [who bats leadoff], well, people are not going to pitch around him by any means."Elsa/Getty ImagesAlready looking ahead to the middle three games of the Fall Classic in Los Angeles, where they will lose the DH because of National League rules, the Red Sox are working out the Gold Glover Betts at second base. They will have to do something, because Betts, Bradley, Benintendi and Martinez don't all fit in the outfield.That this is a conversation is an enormous compliment to Bradley, whose importance is especially intriguing now considering the trade whispers and his wretched first half."We've been through the ranks together," Betts says. "It's one of those things where I can live next to him and know we've been together every step of the way. I know what kind of player he is. He's proven it, he's proving it now, he proved it [in the ALCS]."He's not just a glove out there. He can do it all."As the champagne sprayed the other night in Houston, it sure seemed like it."All of my hitting coaches and the coaching staff, they'd sit there and watch me day in and day out, constantly put work in ... and they'd say: 'That's OK, that's OK. At the end of the year, you're going to do something special,'" Bradley says."So it's pretty cool to be sitting here with y'all and being able to hold the MVP trophy. They were right." Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball. The NLCS comes down to Saturday's Game 7.The Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers are tied at three games apiece after the Brewers controlled Game 6 at Miller Park Friday.Craig Counsell's team not only came out victorious in Game 6, it set itself up for success in Game 7 by not using Josh Hader.Los Angeles enters with more experience http://www.royalsfanproshop.com/authentic-ryan-goins-jersey , and it has won four straight winner-takes-all games on the road, per ESPN Stats and Info.Saturday's winner earns a trip to Fenway Park for Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox. NLCS Game 7 ScheduleStart Time:8:09 p.m. ETTV:FS1Live Stream:Fox Sports Go or Fox Sports app Odds (via OddsShark)Los Angeles (-110; Bet $110 to win $100)Milwaukee (-108) Hader Set to Throw Multiple Innings, Close out Series for MilwaukeeMilwaukee couldn't have asked to be in a better position for Game 7.Since they were able to post insurance runs in the seventh and eighth inning of Game 6, the Brewers didn't have to use Josh Hader to close out the game.With Hader rested, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell could call on the dominant left-hander to throw as many as three or four innings in relief once Jhoulys Chacin is done on the mound.Matt Slocum/Associated PressThe length of Chacin's start will dictate when Counsell decides to unleash a rested Hader on the Los Angeles lineup.Chacin, who hasn't given up a run in the postseason, lasted 5.1 innings in the Game 3 win at Dodger Stadium.If Chacin goes a similar distance Saturday, Counsell can use Hader for three innings for the second time in the NLCS before handing the ball over to Corey Knebel to close out the series in the ninth inning.Of course, the ideal strategy could get thrown out the window if Chacin concedes a few early runs, which would cause Counsell to have an early trigger and figure out when to mix in Hader.Regardless of what happens in the first five innings, possessing a fresh Hader is what the Brewers want, and the southpaw has already shown he's capable of thriving in that situation.In Game 1, Hader entered in the fifth and tossed three scoreless innings before giving way to Xavier Cedeno.Dodgers Need More Production out of Middle of OrderThe Los Angeles bats went quiet at the worst possible time in Game 6, as the Dodgers recorded five hits.To make matters worse, the heart of the Dodgers order produced two hits, with one each from Justin Turner and Chris Taylor.Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger combined to go 0-for-8 with three strikeouts and four runners left on base from the No. 4 and No. 5 positions in the order.Charlie Riedel/Associated PressThe future doesn't look bright for the Dodgers, as Chacin held them to three hits in Game 3, two of which came in the second inning.If the Dodgers are able to string two or more hits together off Chacin early in the contest, they must be able to take advantage of the scoring opportunities.That starts with Justin Turner getting on base from the No. 3 hole, which forces Chacin to pitch to Machado in the cleanup spot.If both Turner and Machado get on base, Bellinger and Yasiel Puig are waiting to drive them in, but if the No. 5 and No. 6 hitters aren't able to produce at the plate, the rally could end at the pitcher's spot in the lineup.Even when Chacin exits the game, the Dodgers have to focus on capitalizing on scoring opportunities since there might not be many if Milwaukee dominates the game on the mound.However, all it takes is for one player to come through with a clutch hit to make the difference in a series that has experienced three one-run games and should feature a fourth Saturday night.Follow Joe on Twitter, JTansey90.Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.
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