No, not the beards. Well sort of the beard. The complexion of Game Three of the ALCS is, in a nutshell, modern baseball. Mike Napoli represents both sides of the modern baseball dynamic with his performance tonight. One home run (game winning) and two strikeouts – two of Justin Verlander‘s 11 Ks on the night.
Verlander and John Lackey might not be part of the new vanguard of power pitchers, but they are two guys who helped usher it in. Verlander is the prototype power pitcher – he throws in the upper 90s with multiple secondary offerings, many of which touch 90 mph on their own.
John Lackey is the other kind of model for young pitchers. He might not light triple digits like Justin Verlander but he induced 16 swinging strikes out of 97 pitches tonight. He was a dominant starter for long enough that somebody gave him a gigantic pile of money for his trouble (and his ability to throw 200 innings while coaxing swinging strikes by the boatload.) That kind of monetary incentive is a great way to funnel talented young ball players toward the mound, the fruits of which baseball is currently enjoying.