Certain articles tend to suffer from overly wordy introductions. I've contributed to the problem myself. In this case, why bother? Here are the 10 pitchers I think are best equipped to succeed in the league championship series. These are all very good pitchers. This is a ranking of them.
Note that this is not a ranking of the best pitchers remaining, overall. Good pitchers are, for the most part, good pitchers, irrespective of who they're going up against, but for this exercise, I've tried to fold in specific matchup concerns, given the series we actually have, and the timing at which we have them.
It's a pitcher ranking, but specific to roughly the next week and a half. You are, as always, free to disagree, but at the end of the day, sometimes Greg Bird hits a home run off Andrew Miller. All we can do in the meantime is think about the odds. These pitchers, I believe, have pretty good odds.
Of the four teams remaining, the Dodgers were the worst this season in productivity against fastballs. Related to that, they saw a fastball rate that was well above average, and Quintana is a fastball-first starter. As his fastball command goes, so goes his performance.
In addition, the Dodgers' offense had baseball's lowest rate of swings at pitches out of the zone, and they also swung at a below-average rate of first pitches. Quintana posted a high rate of first-pitch strikes, and, following, he posted a high rate of pitches thrown while ahead in the count. The Dodgers want to work the count. Quintana wants to get ahead quickly. If he can do that, he'll force the Dodger hitters to have to expand. That's a recipe for a whole lot of outs.
Some of this is about matchups, but it's not all about matchups. Most of it is just about talent, and after a period during which people raised some concerns, Darvish has recently reestablished himself.
Over his past four starts, he has allowed three runs, with one walk and 28 strikeouts. He has thrown almost 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. Darvish has trimmed the usage of his fastball while dramatically increasing the usage of his cutter. Batters have had no good answer, and when Darvish is consistently around the zone, he's practically impossible.