(1) Stroke My Shaft defeats (8) Ninja Blacksox 9-3-0
Don’t let the final score fool you, this was the tightest of the four matchups and was tight for 13 of the 14 days. Castillo was able to put a serious scare into Zach thanks to 18 RBI’s from Arenado and top line performances from Price, Syndergaard, and his entire bullpen. No matter how hard Castillo pushed, Suer would not allow his season to end early and he can thank Tomas, Starlin, and Dozier for pushing his team ahead in the runs and HR categories. Chris Archer finally got some run support and pitched well on top of it and Cole Hamels’ 0.59 ERA and 0.48 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings bolstered Zach’s lead in the crucial ERA and WHIP stats. It came down to Sunday with the edge going to Suer to begin the day and when Suer’s batters stayed hot while his pitchers avoided the blowup, it meant Castillo would ne unable to pull off the 8 seed upset for the second year in a row.
(4) Harry Doyle defeats (5) Mike Hawk 9-3-0
These two teams faced off in the first round of last year’s playoffs and Matt Suer applied a beatdown that the LAPD would be proud of. Matty won this year’s matchup with relative ease but for the first seven days it looked as this could be a two-week back-and-forth affair. Downs and Z. Skul deserve a little love as they had a solid game plan going into the matchup, went for it, but simply didn’t have the skill or luck to dethrone our champion. I threw a little shade at Matty this year by bringing up the fact that he traded away our league’s regular season MVP along with deGromm but what I failed to mention most of the time is the player he got in return. That player is Kris Bryant, who hit seven homers, scored and knocked in 17 runs, and hit for a 1.456 OPS during this series. Kris Bryant is also arguably the best hitter in baseball right now so we can safely say he got equal, if not better value, in his trade with Jeff Petty. Harry Doyle started launching missiles as soon as he felt the pressure from Mike Hawk and the 113 runs, 38 homers, and 107 was reminiscent of the offensive explosion we saw from this team during last year’s playoff run. Downs and Z. Skul will deal with yet another one-and-done postseason and even though they had very good hitters like Carlos Beltran, they couldn’t apply enough fake looking coverage to make up for the exposed spots on their roster.
The wicked taste of a 1 seed loss in last year’s playoffs was still in Arch’s mouth when we started the 2016 playoffs and you can tell this team was more than ready to quiet all the detractors that poked fun at their expense last year. This matchup was never once in question as Arch started hot, stayed hot, and then laid a hot load on Meyer’s forehead to deliver some humiliation of his own. The catching position has been a barren wasteland for offensive stats this year so when both of Arch’s catcher eligible players combined for 16 runs, 12 home runs, and 26 RBI’s, it was proof that Arch was getting help from every single roster spot. Every season there always seems to be one unforeseen player that carries a team in fantasy and this year than man could be Gary Sanchez, who hit an astronomical 1.767 OPS this matchup. Sanchez has pretty much been Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa all rolled into one lately and he practically hit a home run every day he was in Arch’s lineup. Meyer could offer no resistance as he tried to pickup a couple pitchers to maybe find a way to get some cheap wins but in the end he looked like a tired gazelle who just sits there and lets the cougar eat him alive. This was the first playoff shutout we’ve ever seen and should make Arch’s next opponent plenty scared when Arch’s round 2 stomach starts to get hungry for his next pray.
(2) Double Tapered Steamers defeats (7) Fred McGriffey Jr. 7-5-0
This matchup was pretty tight throughout but the momentum shifted significantly in the second week and Jeff Petty made sure he didn’t allow the commish to get off the canvas. Most every category was up for grabs during this matchup but the main weakness was exposed by McGriffey and once again it cost them a chance to advance. This batting lineup has the brutal combination of striking out way too much while not hitting for power, which is counter intuitive and also extremely frustrating to try to coach. The commish went out to pickup as many leadoff hitters he could find in order to get the Runs and SB leads but instead they swung and missed constantly, which means they rarely stood on first base to get a stolen base sign from their third base coach. Jeff Petty won all six of the hitting categories, which is a good thing because he also lost five of the six pitching categories. When one of Jeff’s RP’s, Jeremy Jeffres got a DWI and subsequently pissed in his pants, it could’ve caused a dribble of pee to go down Jeff’s leg but he composed himself and started turning this fantasy matchup around in his favor.
(1) Stroke My Shaft vs. (4) Harry Doyle
Both of these playoff matchups should be fan-freaking-tastic and we will start with two owners that aren’t separated by much on the fantasy field or in the Suer family tree. In order for Zach to get one step closer to his first title, he must get by the winner of our last two title games. Stroke My Shaft is our regular season champ and a very good team, which means he’s fully capable of doing this and he’s probably going to lean on his pitching staff to be the difference in this one. The Suer’s executed a trade earlier in the year that sent Cole Hamels to Zach’s side and that trade could have major implications on who wins this matchup if Hamels continues to pitch out of his brain. Hamels, Scherzer, Happ, and Tanaka will all pitch three times in this matchup, which means Zach is sending his best pitchers out there as much as he possibly can. If Archer stays hot and Fulmer and the bullpen can reduce any possible meltdowns, it could very well be the reason Zach advances and Matt feels a very unfamiliar feeling of ending a season without a new trophy.
Matty will not have the big names and big arms to match Suer’s rotation but he does appear to have the edge with the bats, thanks to some incredibly hot hitting from his best batters. Kris Bryant might be the NL MVP this year and he’s unquestionably the most important batter in this playoff series. If Bryant stays locked and loaded, he can carry this team on his back but if he gets into a little strikeout funk, it could be too much to overcome. The good news is Bryant’s been avoiding his slumps better than ever. Adrian Gonzalez suddenly found a fountain of youthful power, Trea Turner is exciting as fuck to watch, Cespedes is awesome when healthy, and Big Papi keeps humming along. We know Matty is going to make as many moves with his pitchers as he can to make that as close as possible and if he can keep that close, it could be enough for his hitters to send him to the final round. Either way, this should be a fun one.
John Kruk Makes a Postseason Prediction
(2) Double Tapered Steamers vs. (3) Come w/Cha Best
If you believe momentum exists in fantasy baseball and that it can last longer than two weeks, then you probably believe Arch is going to win this matchup. There’s no question who was the best out of the eight playoff teams in round 1 and if Come w/Cha Best starts this matchup off like they ended the last one, they will be playing for the Shocker Championship. This isn’t a team that suddenly started playing great either as they were cemented atop our roto standings all year long and players like Betts, Goldschmidt, Beltre, and Donaldson have been really good for pretty much the entire season. Add in some hotness from The Sanchize, Gary Sanchez and you get a lineup that is going to win a lot of categories. The pitching is a little more susceptible but it’s also not like Verlander, Hammel, Britton, Herrera, and Kluber haven’t been reliable for most of the season. Arch came into last year’s playoffs cold, which cost him so if he thinks team temperature is important to monitor in the playoffs, he’s going to like the 100 degree days of nonstop heat that this team is putting out every day in August.
The Steamers will be here to prove that playoff momentum is a farce. Jeff Petty was able to get past the commish but if we’re looking at where these two teams are at currently, Jeff Petty would’ve lost 1-11-0 if he would’ve played Arch in round 1. That doesn’t mean everything but Jeff is going to have to heat up as a team if he wants to stay alive. This is definitely a possibility with players like Abreu, Schoop, Murphy, Davis, Ozuna, and Harper who can heat up like a hibachi and deliver some seared tube steak to their opponents mouth. The fact that Jose Fernandez and Carlos Martinez will be three start pitchers will certainly help, too. Jeff will need the collection of unpredictable starters to get in a groove as deGrom, Moore, Ray, and Rodon can have some enormously high K rates and some enormously high ERA and WHIP rates if they fall apart.
John Kruk Makes a Postseason Prediction