The NHL Stanley Cup Playoff is my favorite sporting event to watch. The intensity level reached in the NHL playoffs is unmatched by any other sport. The beards may still be fresh but this post season has already produced several thrilling games.
The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks suprizingly has been my favorite series to watch so far this post season. With the late starts some of the games might be hard to stay awake til the end. But if you do muster up the courage you will not be disappointed. This series has been probably the most intense of all with both teams showing genuine hatred towards their counterparts. Two of the Three games in the series have featured 5 on 5 full line third period brawls.
The Chicago Blackhawks struggled at the close of the regular season, losing their last four. But there was promise with news of Patrick Kane returning for the playoffs. Game one started off terribly with Chicago goalie Corey Crawford giving up 3 first period goals and being pulled from the game. In came backup Scott Darling who leads the Hawks to a 4-3 double overtime win on the back of a 42 save shutout performance. After another failed Crawford start in a 6-2 Blackhawks loss in game 2, Darling was named the man going forward and delivered again in a 4-2 game 3 win. Kane looking good and Darling standing on his head has this Diehard Blackhawks fan dreaming of another Stanley Cup.
To most Cubs fans, myself included, this season has far surpassed expectations. Entering the 2015 campaign, Cubs prospects like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell formed a legitimate basis for optimism within the organization and its fan base. But the fruits of Theo Epstein’s labor weren’t expected to ripen this fast. Well, ripen they have, and the 2015 Cubs find themselves on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 2008. Indeed, Joe Maddon’s squad has Chicagoland dreaming of a 2015 World Series birth. Unfortunately, there are two notable barriers that may block the Cubs route to the Fall Classic, and they have names: Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks, known together as “the shitty duo.”
As suggested, the Cubs starting rotation depth is their most glaring concern heading into the 2015 playoffs. The shitty duo, comprising the Cubs projected third and fourth playoff starters, has degenerated down the stretch of the season. Since the all-star break, the shitty duo has struggled to string together respectable outings. If the shitty duo doesn’t markedly improve its performance, do the Cubs stand a strong chance of making it to the World Series? Recent history suggests not.
National League Champion Third and Fourth Starting Playoff Pitchers
2nd Half ERA
2015 Chicago Cubs
Shitty Duo number 1 (Hammel)
Shitty Duo Number 2 (Hendricks)
Data Extracted from Fangraphs
A pitcher’s second half of the season ERA (“second half ERA”) is more likely to have predictive value for the playoffs than his season long ERA. As such, the figure above displays the shitty duo’s second half ERA relative to that of the third and fourth starters on the last five national league champions. Remarkably, the last five national league champions didn’t have a single back end playoff starter with a second half ERA over 4.7. Further, three of the past five national league champions had third and fourth playoff starters with second half ERAs under 3.6. Thus, the shitty duo’s 5.355 collective second half ERA has to be disconcerting to Cubs fans.
The preceding analysis provides objective value to what baseball fans already know: a team needs excellent starting pitching to get to the World Series. To rebuff that axiom, the Cubs must deliver on at least one of the following two scenarios: 1). Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta pitch nearly flawless throughout the 2015 playoffs; or 2). the Cubs produce a lot of runs whenever either shitty duo partner takes the mound. Of course, the shitty duo could decide that sucking ass isn’t what it’s cracked up to be (pun intended) and start pitching better, but that seems unlikely.
Regardless of what transpires throughout the next month, the Cubs should continue to develop and improve over the coming years. On that note, I speak for Cubs nation when I say go Cubs and fuck the Cardinals!!!!
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!