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Playoff baseball tends to evoke the memories of great pitching duels. To aces matched-up, throwing BBs for eight innings, demonstrating how and why the two competeting teams made it this far.

Despite David Price‘s gutty effort in the tiebreaker game, we were yet to be treated to such pitching prowess. Until last night, that is.

Clayton Kershaw put on a postseason pitching performance to remember, a far cry from the guy who appeared near tears in the Dodgers dugout in the 2009 NLCS, having just walked five Phillies in just 4.2 innings.

Clayton Kershaw pitched exactly how one expects an ace and Cy Young shoo-in to pitch. He seemed to get strong as the game went on, striking out 12 Braves — recording eight of his last nine outs by strikeout — while allowing just one run on three hits and three walks.

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Sep 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; The Kansas City Royals celebrate after JustinMaxwell (27) hit a walk off grand slam against the Texas Rangers during the 10th inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals beat the Rangers 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers are far from dead. Just 1.5 games behind the Wildcard leaders from Tampa Bay and Cleveland with seven game remaining, they are still in control of their own destiny. Just a win a bunch of games and they’re fine, right? With three games against the Astros remaining, that is not a huge ask.

But the Rangers are behind. They are behind Cleveland and Tampa Bay because they lost two out of three to the Kansas City Royals, who are nipping at the heels of Texas in the WC standings. The Rangers split four games in Tampa Bay before this weekend series in Kansas City, which stopped a losing streak but didn’t gain them any ground.

Should the Rangers fail to qualify for the postseason this year, there are many questions to ask of the front office and ownership. First and foremost: how?

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Think-piece might be a little aggrandizing. Simply put, here’s what I think: Jose Fernandez is the best. Just the best.

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San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates

There isn’t just one way to have a great change piece. Some tumble straight down, some are more about having arm-side fade. Some get grounders, some get whiffs. Some are hard. Some disappear.

But it’s clear that you need to do one of these things to have a good changeup. Given the ubiquity of the slider, there are plenty of pitchers that have been told they need a slider to avoid the dreaded platoon split that might send them to the bullpen. Dan Straily was basically forced to try 17 changeup grips. Justin Masterson told me last week that “he’s tried every single one” and lamented the one grip that worked in 2007 for half a season and then disappeared forever.

So there’s a class of pitchers that are trying to ply their trade with iffy changeups. We want to know, as fantasy players, which ones are likely to succeed.

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URL Weaver: Groundharvey Day

matt harvey marlins park

There is no easy way to say this, friends. The Mets are going to lose Matt Harvey for a year. After the discovery of a partial tear in the Ulner Collateral ligament of his right (throwing) elbow, Harvey will rest for a few weeks before deciding how best to proceed.

The prognosis is not so rosy. Hardly a death sentence it still means a year without Harvey, which to all Mets fans and most fans of baseball in general, is a punishment all too cruel.

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San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies

Last week, we talked about hitters that had problems with particular pitches. The quintessential Pedro Cerrano / Jobu / Curveball situation. “He can’t hit that.”

Then SABR threw a party called the Saber Seminar in Boston and all sorts of nerdery broke loose. One presentation was by SABR president Vince Gennaro. He put forth the idea that lineups could be better constructed if we knew how players did against similar pitchers. By using pitcher similarity scores, we could group certain pitchers by things like pitch repertoire, fastball velocity, release point, swinging strike percentage and zone percentage.

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Your 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Week That Was

LAA – 2-5 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 8/13: 0.0%.)

That’s ZERO for those of you keeping score at home. For the rest of you, it’s also ZERO.

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