Sean Casey has faced Clayton Kershaw. So he knows the challenge awaiting the Houston Astros lineup in Game 1 tonight. The MLB Network analyst shared his scouting report and approach against the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner on The Jim Rome Show Tuesday.
“What’s tough about him is he’s got a little deceptive motion with that double leg kick. He’s got a big four seem fastball and when he really works it down in the zone at the knees, he’s tough because then he can go to that curveball,” Casey said. “But if I’m going to face a guy like Clayton Kershaw I’m trying to get him early. I’m trying to get him up in the zone, I’m trying to set my sights on what kind of pitch I can get, but I’m trying to ambush him early hoping I don’t have to get to that curve ball.”
Casey also played with Houston’s Game 2 starter Justin Verlander in Detroit in 2006. The first baseman was 10 years into his big league career before making his first postseason playoff appearance that season, and remembers talking to the then 23-year old Verlander about not taking the experience for granted.
“I remember finally making it, and I took in every sight and sound I could because I hadn’t ever been there,” Casey said. “And I remember pulling Justin Verlander aside, I said, ‘Verly, hey man, I know you think this is going to happen every year, but it doesn’t. It is so hard to get to the postseason, let alone the World Series in the big leagues, don’t ever take this for granted. Like you will see as your career goes on, it’s tough to get here.’”
That’s made Verlander’s run in this postseason, more than a decade after they played together, even more special to watch.
“You see him in the postseason, and what he is doing, and I know he is taking it all in and cherishing it,” Casey said. “I played with a lot of guys in the big leagues that played 15 years that never played one day in the Division Series, let alone a World Series. I just wanted to make sure that he never took for granted the fact how hard it is to get to the top of the mountain baseball.”
The first two games in Los Angeles are expected to be played in scorching hot weather. Casey, said while it’s not ideal to play in triple-digit heat, players would rather do that than the snow he played in while a member of the Tigers.
“The bottom line is you played all season long in hot weather,” Casey laughed. “If it was freezing cold it’s one thing, but for it to 104 degrees, not a ton of humidity, I think the weather isn’t going to be a huge factor because these guys grind through the season in that kind of weather.”
Asked for his prediction, Casey expects a great series but thinks the Dodgers will get their first title since 1988.
“Their team that have, top to bottom, they are back to playing really good baseball,” Casey said. “I just think that that bullpen might turn out to be the difference in these games. I think it’s going to be a good series, but I see the Dodgers maybe winning in six.”