Alexander: Veteran Ryan Madson shows his postseason mettle for Dodgers

first_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start It is another case of conventional wisdom being, well, not totally wise. In a series expected to hinge on the depth and quality of the Brewers’ bullpen, Dodgers relievers have the better ERA, 0.91 to 3.15, and have allowed two inherited runners to score as opposed to the Brewers’ four.And the Brewers’ relievers have faced 104 batters over 25-2/3 innings. Even Josh Hader, making his second straight appearance, gave up a pair of hits Tuesday night, something of a dent in his invincibility.“The more you see guys, the more familiar you get with them and the more comfortable you get,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “And it helps identify the plan of attack you want to have going into an at-bat. We’ve seen a lot of their bullpen guys, so I think you’re seeing some better at-bats off them.”And in the end, maybe the X-factor isn’t Hader, the blowtorch of a reliever who can throw three innings at a time but is in his first postseason. Maybe it’s the guy who has seen it, done it, has the rings to prove it and wants to get one [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter LOS ANGELES — It was no certainty that Ryan Madson was going to make the Dodgers’ postseason roster. The veteran reliever, obtained from Washington just before the Aug. 31 deadline for playoff eligibility, was not overwhelming in nine regular-season appearances, with a 6.48 ERA (6 earned runs in 8-1/3 innings). He had 13 strikeouts to one walk, which was good, but he had a 1.32 WHIP and a .282 opponents’ batting average, which wasn’t.And then the postseason started, and the veteran who possesses two World Series championship rings offered a reminder of just how valuable steely nerves and experience in the crucible of playoff baseball can be.Madson has pitched five times in this postseason, and opposing hitters have a .188 average and no one has scored. And he was particularly valuable in Tuesday night’s Game 4, even if his contribution in the seventh and eighth innings was long forgotten by the time the Dodgers wrapped up their series-tying 2-1 victory over the Brewers in 13 innings, nearly two hours later.Madson was called on to replace Caleb Ferguson with two out and the go-ahead run on third in the seventh. He needed two pitches to retire Lorenzo Cain on a grounder to second. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies center_img He went back out for the eighth inning and expended just 12 more pitches, giving up a slow roller for an infield single to Christian Yelich but striking out Ryan Braun, getting Jesús Aguilar on a pop-up and retiring Mike Moustakas on a liner to left center that Joc Pederson tracked down.It was overshadowed by Kenley Jansen’s successful two-inning stint, as well as spotless innings by Pedro Báez, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro and Julio Urias. But it extended some impressive postseason numbers.Madson has 51 career postseason appearances, fourth all-time and most among active pitchers. His 66 strikeouts trail only future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. And all told, he is 5-1 with two saves and a 2.61 ERA in postseason play following Tuesday night.“He’s been kind of the unsung hero of this team this year,” said Rich Hill, Tuesday night’s starting pitcher. “Ryan’s been unbelievable this postseason. I know he got myself out of a jam in Atlanta (in Game 4 of the Division Series), and what he did here tonight was huge, and a couple of days ago in Milwaukee (inheriting a second and third, one out, one in situation from Hyun-Jin Ryu in the fifth and limiting the Brewers to one additional run in a game the Dodgers ultimately came back to win).”Madson won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008, got back to the Series with the Phillies in 2009 against the Yankees, and was part of Kansas City’s championship club in 2015. Tough situations do not bother him. And he still can bring the heat, reaching 97 mph twice and 96 three times in his 14 pitches. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco “Everybody in here is comfortable with him on the mound and excited when he’s pitching,” catcher Austin Barnes said. “Everybody trusts his stuff, and he’s been making some big pitches these whole playoffs for us. … He comes out and goes right after hitters. He knows what he wants to do, and he’s making some big pitches for us, getting us out of a lot of jams.”This is the eighth postseason for Madson, who was born in Long Beach and attended Valley View High in Moreno Valley. And it shows.“The way he’s throwing the ball, he’s without a pulse out there,” Hill said. “That’s huge, because when you have a guy like that with his experience in those situations, that’s who you want out there. You know he’s not going to be fazed by the situation or the environment.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Chiefs vs. Texans odds, prediction, betting trends for NFL divisional playoff game

Here’s everything to know about betting on Chiefs vs. Texans in the NFL playoffs, including updated odds, trends and our expert’s prediction for the AFC divisional game.MORE: Get the latest NFL odds & betting trends at Sports InsiderChiefs vs. Texans odds for NFL playoffsSpread: Chiefs by 10Point total: 51Odds: Texans -122, Chiefs +102The Chiefs have seen this line slowly climb toward double digits after opening as a touchdown-plus favorite. There’s confidence in them after a dominant stretch to end the season, while the Texans had a rougher December.Chiefs vs. Texans all-time seriesThe Chiefs lead the series 6-5. The Texans won the regular-season meeting, 31-24 at Kansas City on Oct. 14. Before that game, they had lost four of five games to the Chiefs, including in Houston in the playoffs four years ago in 2016, 30-0.Three trends to know— The Texans are only 8-9 against the spread this season. The Chiefs are 11-5 against the spread. 52 percent of bettors like the Chiefs to cover the big number.— The Texans saw only 7 of 17 games go over. The Chiefs saw only 8 of 16 games go over. 55 percent of bettors like the game to have more than 51 points.— The Texans have covered only 4 times in the past 11 games. The Chiefs have won and covered in six consecutive games.Three things to watchFuller’s returnWatson gets a much-needed extra downfield weapon back in wide receiver Will Fuller, who missed the Bills game with a groin injury. Fuller caught 5 passes for 44 yards on 9 targets in the first meeting. His presence gives a deep threat to which Kansas City’s strong secondary must pay attention. Fuller should return to be busy behind DeAndre Hopkins and puts Kenny Stills in a more favorable complementary role.Mathieu’s revengeChiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been playing like his best Honey Badger self, making big plays all over the field as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The former Texan has been a big addition who has helped his new team pull off a big defensive turnaround under Steve Spagnuolo. Mathieu will try to burn Watson in coverage at a few opportune times.Tyreek the freakChiefs wide receiver Tyreek HIll had 5 catches for 80 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets in the first meeting. The Texans could have given up a much bigger game to him. You can bet they will do everything they can to make someone else beat them. Tight end Travis Kelce, who will be playing through a knee injury, was contained to 4 catches for 58 yards on 6 targets when Houston won at Kansas City. Stat that mattersDuring their six-game winning streak, the Chiefs have allowed only a total of 69 points, or an average of fewer than 12 points per game. They also scored 167 points in that stretch, or nearly 28 points per game. The defense has jelled, improving against the pass and holding up better against the run. The offense has shot back up with a fully healthy Mahomes with a big boost from Damien Williams looking late his late 2018 self out of the backfield again. They also have dominated with their play on both lines of scrimmage.Chiefs vs. Texans predictionThe Texans needed to run the ball at a very high level and dominate the time-of-possession battle to upset the Chiefs by a touchdown in Kansas City in October. They had to play a long, tough game against the Bills last week while the Chiefs got a much-needed bye. With the Ravens no longer standing as an obstacle, the Chiefs should be extra fired up for the opportunity for redemption in a second straight AFC title game in Arrowhead Stadium against the team, the Titans, to whom they lost their most recent game. Mahomes will make sure the Chiefs don’t look ahead and take care of business, picking apart the Texans’ secondary again to outduel Watson, who will face a higher degree of difficulty.Chiefs 27, Texans 14 When the No. 4 seed Texans travel to play the No. 2 seed Chiefs in Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff game in Kansas City (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS), a chance to host next Sunday’s AFC championship game against the No. 6 Titans will be on the line.The Texans beat the Bills in overtime to open wild-card play last week. The Chiefs enjoyed the bye week after jumping the Patriots, who have since been eliminated in Week 17. Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes make it another marquee matchup of dynamic young quarterbacks. read more