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The WNBA Finals Really Are Pitting The Best Against The Best

Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Oct. 18, 2016), we take a look the MLB playoffs and wonder if managerial strategy should sometimes have more to do with emotions than with statistics. Then we chat about the upcoming decisive game in the WNBA Finals between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, and ask Kate Fagan if Candace Parker will finally be able to win her first championship. Finally, we talk to The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg about the start of the NHL season and if the Canadian teams can break their 23-year Stanley Cup drought. Plus, a significant digit on the Japanese baseball player blowing that country’s playoffs apart.

Also, remember to check the Hot Takedown feed on Thursday for the second installment in our documentary series, Ahead Of Their Time. The series looks at coaches and players who did something radical and weren’t really recognized in their era, but who have since been proved right by analytics. The second episode is about the Russian revolution in the NHL. You can also find all the episodes here.

Links to what we discuss:

  • Rob Arthur says that MLB’s postseason is reliever season.
  • Dave Cameron at Fangraphs writes that Andrew Miller is the perfect relief pitcher.
  • Ben Lindbergh explains why the Indians are reshaping what we think about relievers.
  • Jesse Dougherty says all eyes are on Candace Parker as the L.A. Sparks look to clinch the WNBA Championship on Thursday night.
  • Neil Greenberg previews the 2016-2017 NHL season.
  • Significant Digit: 103. That’s the speed in mph of a pitch thrown by Shohei Otani, a player for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan. This season Otani struck out 174 batters and allowed only 4 home runs. He also hit 22 home runs of his own, batting .322/.416/.588 in 382 plate appearances. You can read more about Otani’s feats in this article by Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer.

Chadwick Matlin was a deputy managing editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Kate Fagan is a writer for espnW and a regular panelist on the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown.

Joe Sykes produces our weekly sports podcast Hot Takedown.