These are the things that make October special, and it becomes especially true when we reach the League Championship Series.
When fans tune in for a 162-game regular season, offense is the most exhilarating thing to watch in baseball. Home runs are thrilling. RBI doubles in the gap are amazing. Those kinds of things keep us hooked from April through September.
But when we get into postseason baseball, one thing becomes truer than anything else: Pitching is everything.
In today’s game, generally that pitching is ruled by bullpens and management styles from the dugouts. However, for Game 1 of the ALCS, we are going to be treated to as fantastic of a starting pitching matchup as we will see all of October. As the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros get ready to square off for a chance to go to the World Series, Game 1 will feature Chris Sale on the mound for Boston against Justin Verlander for Houston.
These are two big time ace pitchers. Sale and Verlander easily crack the top three or four best starting pitchers in the league, and when Verlander played for Detroit earlier in his career, he was hands down the best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. He’s a guy that, in 2011, won a Triple Crown along with both the American League Cy Young and MVP awards. (Editor’s Note: He stole that MVP from Jacoby Ellsbury and I will forever be salty about this.)
Meanwhile, Sale is an annual contender for the Cy Young award, and may have just won it this year had it not been for his August stint on the disabled list. His 2.11 ERA speaks for itself. I, along with many others, have called him on many occasions the most electrifying Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez. He was pretty dominant in his ALDS Game 1 start against the Yankees, as well as his relief appearance in the eighth inning of Game 4.
With these two hurlers going on Saturday night, we might see a final score of 2-1 or 1-0. As exciting as the long ball is, there is nothing in baseball more electrifying than lights out pitching in October.
So kick back, grab your popcorn and soda (or maybe something a little stronger), and get ready to watch a heck of a show. There is still a long way to go in this 2018 postseason, but I guarantee you won’t see a better pitching matchup this October than the one you’re getting on Saturday night at Fenway Park.