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Takeaways: Raiders score 40 on the champs, and Steelers stay undefeated

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Week 5 in the NFL featured Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders exorcising their demons in Kansas City, the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons picking up their fifth losses, and the return of Washington’s Alex Smith to the football field after a gruesome leg injury two years ago.

Elsewhere, the Carolina Panthers won their third game in a row, while the Pittsburgh Steelers remained undefeated thanks to four touchdowns from rookie Chase Claypool.

All that and more in Week 5‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
LV-KC | CIN-BAL | PHI-PIT
LAR-WSH | CAR-ATL | JAX-HOU
ARI-NYJ | TB-CHI | MIA-SF
IND-CLE | DAL-NYG | SEA-MIN

Standout performer for NYG-DAL: Andy Dalton, 111 yards passing yards, directed the winning drive in the final minute filling in for an injured Dak Prescott

The Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East with a 2-3 record, but will be without starting quarterback Dak Prescott for the rest of the season because of a dislocated and fractured right ankle. “I just feel terrible for him,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He was having a tremendous year. In my short time working with him, he’s made such an impression on me, and he’s clearly the leader of this football team. I have no doubt that he’ll bounce back from this and this will be all part of his great story.” Veteran Andy Dalton, who has not had a winning record as a starter since 2015, will take over. — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Arizona (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 19)

The Giants saw two touchdowns negated — one in each half — on questionable calls. Those points proved to be costly, particularly for a team that doesn’t seem to know how to win. The Giants (0-5) could’ve been in the thick of the the NFC East race but instead remain in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Quarterback Daniel Jones failed to lead his team down the field with a chance to win. Even though Jason Garrett’s offense showed some life, it was another disappointing result for the Giants, and Joe Judge remains winless as head coach. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for IND-CLE: Myles Garrett, 1 sack, forced a safety off an intentional grounding

The Browns haven’t been to the playoffs in 18 years. They’re also 4-1 for the first time since 1994, when Bill Belichick was the coach. The Colts figure to be one of the teams the Browns will be vying against for a playoff spot. Winning Sunday — while also handing Indy a loss — took Cleveland one small step closer to snapping the NFL’s longest playoff drought. — Jake Trotter

Next game: at Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Could the Colts be forced to make a change at quarterback after Philip Rivers threw two more interceptions to bring his season total to five and was called for intentional grounding for a safety against Cleveland? Nope. Coach Frank Reich said Rivers is the “least” of his worries. Four of Rivers’ five interceptions happened in the Colts’ two losses this season. — Mike Wells

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for MIA-SF: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 350 passing yards, 3 TDs

A near-perfect game from Ryan Fitzpatrick should quiet talk about Tua Time while also showing rookie Tua Tagovailoa how to lead a team. Fitzpatrick’s career has been defined as a roller coaster, and Sunday was the peak of the quarterback’s play. Coach Brian Flores doesn’t have to tell us Fitzpatrick will remain the Dolphins’ starter this week because his play did the talking, and it seems Miami’s transition plan is working out just as intended thus far. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: vs. N.Y. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The 49ers are in serious trouble. An embarrassing blowout loss to the Dolphins dropped them to 2-3, and over the next seven weeks, they play the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Rams and Bills. Given their many struggles, it’s hard to find any obvious wins in there unless the Niners improve quickly. “We have got to close the doors, go out to the field and go to work,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You either get better or worse and if we don’t get better, then it’s going to be a long season.” — Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. L.A. Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for LV-KC: Derek Carr, 347 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

Derek Carr said last week he was tired of losing, so what did he do about it? He outplayed Patrick Mahomes to exorcise his Arrowhead Stadium demons, and the Raiders ended a seven-game losing streak at the Kansas City Chiefs with an upset of the defending Super Bowl champions. Carr, who entered the game having lost all six of his games at Kansas City by an average score of 29-12, engineered an efficient ball-control offense that showed just enough explosiveness to keep the Chiefs honest. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 25)

The aura of invincibility that once surrounded the Chiefs’ offense was further punctured by the Raiders, who became the third opponent in the past four weeks to give the Chiefs fits with their defense. The strategy of getting pressure without the blitz and then blanketing receivers downfield was familiar. The Chiefs will undoubtedly see similar tactics in their next game against the Bills and beyond, so they’re either going to need to protect Mahomes better or get their receivers open quicker. Otherwise, their problems won’t go away. — Adam Teicher

Next game: at Buffalo (5 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 19)


Standout performer for CIN-BAL: Patrick Queen, 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 TD

The Ravens’ defense has taken over the starring role on the team. In 2019, Lamar Jackson and the offense carried Baltimore to the best record in the regular season. Through five games, it’s the defense that’s setting the tone. In sacking Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times, the Ravens came within a late fourth-quarter field goal of their first shutout in two years. Baltimore is limiting teams to 15.2 points per game and has also scored two defensive touchdowns this season. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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0:15

Lamar Jackson tosses the short touchdown to Hollywood Brown to pad the Ravens’ lead.

After Joe Burrow secured his first NFL win last weekend and became the first rookie to throw for 300 or more yards in three consecutive games, he didn’t look like a 23-year-old who just turned pro. That wasn’t the case Sunday, as Cincinnati mustered 205 total yards and didn’t get inside the Ravens’ 30-yard line until the end of the game. Sunday was a sobering reminder of what it will take for Burrow to succeed in the NFL. “We just didn’t execute our plan very well,” Burrow said. “I didn’t play very well, and we as an offense didn’t play very well.” — Ben Baby

Next game: at Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer for LAR-WSH: Aaron Donald, 4 sacks

The Rams improved to 4-1 and after sweeping the NFC East are primed to begin division play next Sunday against the 49ers. The Rams are in second place in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks as they attempt to reclaim the division title they won in 2017 and 2018 before the 49ers won last season. With quarterback Jared Goff regaining his form from two years ago, when the team advanced to the Super Bowl, and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald leading the league in sacks, including four on Sunday, the Rams could be positioning themselves for deep playoff run. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: at San Francisco (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Washington’s problems run deeper than Dwayne Haskins. The benched quarterback wasn’t showing the team what it wanted, which is why it started Kyle Allen on Sunday. But without him — and with Allen hurt in the second quarter and Alex Smith seeing his first action in almost two years — Washington managed 108 total yards. And the defense was gashed again. That side of the ball was supposed to provide the backbone of the team, but instead it allows too many big plays. Washington entered the game tied for the second-most plays of 25 yards or more allowed this season with four; Sunday, the team allowed five such plays. It has allowed at least 30 points each of the past four games. — John Keim

Next game: at N.Y. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for PHI-PIT: Chase Claypool, 116 total yards, 4 TDs

Chase Claypool is for real. The rookie second-round pick from Notre Dame got heaps of praise from coach Mike Tomlin and his teammates during training camp. And with a four-touchdown performance in the Steelers’ win against the Eagles, the wide receiver showed he’s worthy. It was impressive not just that Claypool became the first rookie in team history to score four touchdowns in a single game, but how he did it. The final score came on a play he’d never run from that spot. But his ability to adapt to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s audibles makes him a special talent. “We expected them to go all-out blitz,” Roethlisberger told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio after the game. “So we had a play called and they sat back in a zone, and we had him in a spot and I just called a play that he never ran in that spot, and obviously he knows what he is doing and I was proud of him.” — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Travis Fulgham‘s encouraging play is starting to feel like more than a fluke, and that’s huge for the Eagles, who have been snakebit at wide receiver the past couple of seasons. Fulgham went off for 10 catches and 152 yards Sunday against Pittsburgh. With his emergence, Philadelphia suddenly has a potentially promising one-two punch for the near future once first-round pick Jalen Reagor returns from a UCL tear in his thumb. And it lessens the need for the Eagles to depend on the health and production of 33-year-old DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and 30-year-old Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc). Even at 1-3-1, they’ll remain in contention in the awful NFC East if their offense can keep pace. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Baltimore (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for CAR-ATL: Teddy Bridgewater, 313 yards, 2 TDs

The future of Atlanta coach Dan Quinn might be in doubt after an 0-5 start, but first-year Panthers coach Matt Rhule’s future is bright after Sunday’s victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was Carolina’s third consecutive win and forced a tie with Tampa Bay atop the NFC South. It was the result of the same things Rhule demands that led to the previous two victories: fast play, physical play and mistake-free football on both sides of the ball. With running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) likely to return in a couple of weeks, this team should only get better. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

There’s no other way to look at the Falcons’ 0-5 start then to say it’s time to make a coaching change. Dan Quinn was supposed to turn things around after back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Now the Falcons have little to no chance to make the playoffs, as no team in the Super Bowl era has made the postseason after an 0-5 start. Atlanta officially parted ways with Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff on Sunday night. — Vaughn McClure

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for ARI-NYJ: Kyler Murray, 380 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

The Cardinals bounced back from two consecutive losses with a win over the Jets and career-high 380 passing yards from Kyler Murray, who had his own rebound from last week’s 133 passing yards. But the victory was overshadowed by Chandler Jones‘ biceps injury, which coach Kliff Kingsbury said could be season-ending. Losing Jones would take away the Cardinals’ most effective pass-rushing weapon, because even with one sack this season, Jones commands enough attention to draw personnel away from the other side where the likes of Devon Kennard and Haason Reddick — the likely candidate to replace Jones in the starting lineup — were able to work one-on-one. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Dallas (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 19)

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0:30

Kyler Murray launches a 37-yard pass to a double-covered DeAndre Hopkins, who still finds a way to hold on to the ball and score.

The Jets are 0-5 for the first time since 1996. They’ve lost every game by at least nine points. The defense has allowed at least 27 points in every game. They’ve been outscored 161-75. We could go on, but you get the point. This is as bad as it’s ever been in a quarter-century, and there’s little hope for a turnaround. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Miami (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for JAX-HOU: Brandin Cooks, 8 catches for 161 yards and a TD

There was a lot of excitement at NRG Stadium as the Texans got their first win of the season under interim coach Romeo Crennel. It’s clear there’s still a lot of work to be done for this 1-4 team, however. A promising start: Deshaun Watson was able to connect with wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who had his best game for the Texans. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Just another week in which the Jaguars couldn’t put together anything resembling a complete game. The defense, minus three starters before the game and losing two others during to injuries, managed to keep it close into the fourth quarter, but this week the offense and special teams self-destructed. Kicker Stephen Hauschka missed two field goals, running back James Robinson fumbled on a fourth-down play inside the 10-yard line, and quarterback Gardner Minshew lost another fumble. That’s what bad teams do, and the Jaguars, at 1-4 after their fourth consecutive loss, are definitely a bad team. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Detroit (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for TB-CHI: Khalil Mack, 2 sacks

The Bears are tough to figure out. They have been outplayed most of the season, yet they are 4-1. Is Chicago a true contender? Time will tell, but it has positioned itself in the thick of the NFC playoff picture by virtue of Thursday’s win over Tampa Bay. Quarterback Nick Foles was good (30-of-42, 243 yards, TD, INT), not great, proving the team needs just adequate play on offense to compliment its strong defense. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: at Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

With few playmakers at his disposal, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady found himself on the losing end of a fourth-quarter comeback, falling to the Bears. Not only did he appear to lose track of down and distance on a fourth-down play (depending whom you ask) on Tampa’s final drive, one of the Buccaneers’ top players on defense — defensive tackle Vita Vea — is out for the season with broken ankle. At 3-2 with the Packers coming to town next Sunday, the Bucs need to focus on getting Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans 100% healthy, and limiting destructive penalties. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Green Bay (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer for SEA-MIN: Russell Wilson: 20-of-32 passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 58 rushing yards on 5 carries

The Vikings’ loss at Seattle will widely be pinned on their failed attempt on fourth-and-1 from the Seahawks’ 6-yard line when Alexander Mattison was stopped shy of a first down that would have sealed Minnesota’s second consecutive road victory. Playing for an injured Dalvin Cook, Mattison ran straight up the gut instead of cutting outside, where it appeared he had room to pick up at least a yard. Coach Mike Zimmer was adamant afterward that he doesn’t regret his decision to go for it over kicking a field goal to give Minnesota an eight-point lead, and that aggressive choice was likely the right one. But there are others that will come into question as the Vikings try to move forward after a 1-4 start. Those include a failed 2-point attempt with a designed quarterback run after a third-quarter touchdown and calling for pressure on a fourth-and-10 play that left the secondary exposed, allowing Russell Wilson to connect with DK Metcalf for a 39-yard gain and paving the way for Seattle to win the game. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Seahawks won ugly Sunday night, but they’re sitting pretty at 5-0 for the first time in franchise history after beating Minnesota. There are concerns, to be sure. Their pass defense was gashed early in the season and their run defense got worked against the Vikings. For the first time this season, their red-hot offense was flat in the first half before scoring 21 consecutive points in the third quarter. But the Seahawks’ problems should be kept in context with the rest of the NFC West, with the San Francisco 49ers stumbling through an injury-riddled 2-3 start and the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals losing Chandler Jones to what might be a season-ending injury. The Seahawks face Arizona when they come back from next weekend’s bye and should have All-Pro safety Jamal Adams back in the starting lineup. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Arizona (4:05 p.m. ET, Oct. 25)

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Report: USC bans WR amid possible fraud probe

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A USC Trojans football player was suspended last month by the school in connection to a possible federal investigation into fraud related to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Sophomore wide receiver Munir McClain has been suspended since mid-September, his mother, Shan McClain told the Times. But she said the school has not given her or her son a clear reason for the suspension. Michael Blanton, USC’s vice president of ethics and professionalism, told Shan that Munir’s name surfaced in relation to a complaint that had been filed involving USC students and a plan to apply for Employment Development Department benefits, the Times reported.

Munir acknowledged he applied for financial relief from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program but was under the impression he qualified because his source of income — reselling high-end shoes — had dried up during the pandemic, the Times reported. A lawyer representing the McClain family told the Times they planned to challenge the suspension.

“We are cooperating with the authorities,” USC said in a statement. “We understand there may be many questions and concerns, but we are unable to discuss this matter because of our obligation to protect students’ privacy.”

Earlier this week, federal agents visited Munir’s dorm looking for his older brother and roommate, redshirt sophomore linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain, the Times reported. He wasn’t home, so an agent left behind a card that identified her as a special agent with the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

The Times reported that other USC football players have recently received similar visits from federal agents inquiring about Munir McClain.

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Trojans WR to appeal suspension, lawyer says

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A USC Trojans football player was suspended last month by the school in connection to a possible federal investigation into fraud related to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Sophomore receiver Munir McClain has been suspended since mid-September, his mother, Shan McClain told the Times. But she said the school has not given her nor her son a clear reason for the suspension. Michael Blanton, USC’s vice president of ethics and professionalism, told Shan that Munir’s name surfaced in relation to a complaint that had been filed involving USC students and a plan to apply for Employment Development Department benefits, the Times reported.

Munir acknowledged he applied for financial relief from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program but was under the impression he qualified because his source of income — reselling high-end shoes — had dried up during the pandemic, the Times reported. A lawyer representing the McClain family told the Times they planned to challenge the suspension.

“We are cooperating with the authorities,” USC said in a statement. “We understand there may be many questions and concerns, but we are unable to discuss this matter because of our obligation to protect students’ privacy.”

Earlier this week, federal agents visited Munir’s dorm looking for his older brother and roommate, redshirt sophomore linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain, the Times reported. He wasn’t home, so an agent left behind a card that identified her as a special agent with the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

The Times reported other USC football players have recently received similar visits from federal agents inquiring about Munir McClain.

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World Series roundtable: Everything we learned in Games 1 and 2

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It’s a travel day in the 2020 World Series … just without any travel.

The Series — tied at 1 — is staying in Arlington, Texas, but the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays have 24 hours to catch their breath before Game 3 on Friday.

While they do, ESPN baseball writers Sam Miller and David Schoenfield answer some key questions so far in this Fall Classic.


What has stood out to you most over the first two games of this World Series?

Sam Miller: How much deeper the Rays’ lineup looks when Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle aren’t helpless. Tampa Bay got through three playoff rounds behind good pitching and Randy Arozarena, but every inning seemed to start with slumping Rays hitters making two quick outs. Lowe, their best regular-season hitter/worst postseason hitter, broke out with two homers in Game 2. Wendle, in a similar slide, hit one oppo-rocket for a sac fly and pulled a double so hard that Mookie Betts took a bad route to it. Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz each hit his hardest ball this postseason in Game 2, and Manuel Margot is showing that he might have actually turned into a star sometime in mid-August. The Kershaws and Buehlers of the world might still shut this lineup down, but the Rays should scare the rest of the Dodgers’ staff.

David Schoenfield: That maybe this isn’t going to be the low-scoring, grind-it-out, home-runs-or-die series that we expected. With scores of 8-3 and 6-4, we’ve seen a little more offense than perhaps anticipated given the two pitching staffs. Also, that second-guessing in the World Series will forever remain a fun parlor game. Did Kevin Cash leave Tyler Glasnow in too long in Game 1? Did the Dodgers outthink themselves with a bullpen game in Game 2? Why does Dustin May not strike out more batters given his fastball? What is with all these “contact” plays by the runner on third base this postseason? OK, it worked for Mookie Betts on Tuesday, but it has failed several other times. Are 28-man rosters too many players? (Yes.) Are you tired of bullpen games? (Yes.) Is Corey Seager locked in right now? (Yes.) Do Dodgers fans want to see Joe Kelly in a close game? (No.)

What do the Dodgers need to do to win the series from here?

Miller: It sounds like the worst kind of cliché, but they just need to do what they do. The Dodgers are (no offense, Tampa Bay!) the better team here, and even in two split games it has showed: The Dodgers have 50 points of OBP on Tampa Bay so far in this series and 80 points of slugging. The regular-season Dodgers were only the 11th team in modern history with a winning percentage over .700, and so far in the postseason, against other postseason teams, they have the run differential of a .700 team. If they don’t make any gaffes and they just (serious cliché voice) play like they’re capable of playing, they’re going to win every seven-game series that isn’t beset by weirdness.

Schoenfield: Picking up where Sam left off, keep working those counts. They made Tyler Glasnow throw 112 pitches in just 4⅓ innings. Blake Snell was great in Game 2 through four innings, but in the end they drew four walks off him and knocked him out after 4⅔ innings. They’ve seen Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks now, and the more they see of them, the better they will adjust. As good as the Tampa Bay pen is, Cash doesn’t really want to go too deep, and with three games in three days, reliever fatigue becomes a potential issue.

What do the Rays need to do to win the series from here?

Miller: Get Nick Anderson right. Anderson was the best reliever in baseball for the year prior to this month, and the Rays use him so aggressively that it’d be easy to see him being named MVP of this series. But arguably his four worst outings of the year — OK, probably four of his worst five — have come in his past four appearances. His rightness obviously carries extra importance, because he comes into the biggest moment of every close game. He doesn’t have the freedom to fail just a little bit. But beyond the direct impact his pitches have, the Rays’ trust in him sets the rest of the pitching plan. If you’re counting to 27 outs and you don’t have Anderson for four to seven of them, that has ramifications for Charlie Morton and Blake Snell, for Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo, for the whole story the Rays are trying to tell.

Schoenfield: Sam took my suggestion. Indeed, the dirty little secret for the Rays is that Anderson hasn’t actually been that good in the postseason. He has now been scored on in five straight appearances and in six of his eight games in the playoffs. After averaging 14.3 K’s per nine innings in his limited action in the regular season, he has only eight in 13 postseason innings. Anyway, let’s go with this: Ride Charlie Morton. Given Anderson’s struggles, it’s important that Morton shuts down the Dodgers in Game 3 … and then again in Game 7 if the series goes the distance. Morton is riding a streak of five straight postseason starts dating to 2019 where he has given up one earned run or fewer (including his past two). His longest outing in this stretch has been just 5⅔ innings, but if he gives up one run in five innings, the Rays will be in a great position.

Who is the MVP of the series through two games?

Miller: Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw took control of this series for the Dodgers on the fourth batter of the first game, when — with two on and one out — he got Hunter Renfroe on a checked swing for a huge strikeout. He then retired 16 of the next 17 batters as the Dodgers’ offense chewed through three Tampa Bay pitchers to first take a small lead and then build a big one. No, they couldn’t keep control of the series after Kershaw left, and we go into the first “travel” day tied. But nobody looms over the rest of this series quite so much as Kershaw, the pitcher Tampa Bay couldn’t hit, lined up for a Game 5 start and a probable Game 7 (if necessary) relief appearance.

Schoenfield: Kershaw is in the best shape to win it for the entire series since he’s now guaranteed a start in Game 5 with the Rays avoiding the sweep. It’s hard for a pitcher to win MVP honors, though. If it’s close — like Steve Pearce and David Price in 2018 — it seems as if the hitter usually wins. We’ve had 21 MVPs since 2000 (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling shared it in 2001), but pitchers have won only six.

What have you noticed the most about the neutral-site, limited-fans World Series so far?

Miller: I haven’t noticed their presence very much, to be honest. I certainly haven’t noticed fans affecting the game the way 40,000 delirious partisans can. Maybe it’s different for the players in the middle of it, but if there’s a spectrum that ranges from “empty” to “full and Octobery,” it has felt closer to empty.

Schoenfield: Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem with a regular Tampa Bay-Los Angeles World Series since both are warm-weather cities and the Rays play indoors, but it has been nice that the entire postseason has been played in warm-weather locations — the way baseball is supposed to be played. No winter jackets. No heaters in the dugouts. No turtlenecks or ski masks. Am I advocating for a permanent warm-weather World Series? Well, it’s supposed to snow in Minneapolis on Thursday with a high of 35.

How will a travel day off — without travel — impact the rest of this series?

Miller: Probably a lot less than we would have guessed 36 hours ago! The break (and the break between Games 5 and 6) will let the Dodgers use Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin in relief during the games “in” Tampa Bay, which seemed important except that neither of them has looked very good lately. None of either team’s high-leverage relievers are gassed, thanks to the blowout Tuesday. I guess the day gives Tampa Bay a chance to reset its bullpen after Anderson’s and Fairbanks’ extended outings Wednesday, but neither threw that many pitches. Uh … it gives Kevin Kiermaier‘s wrist another day to get healthy, if that’s still a factor? Dave? Got something better?

Schoenfield: More time for the Dodgers to outthink themselves? I kid! I kid! The Dodgers will definitely make all the right choices in their pitching decisions, just like in the 2017 World Series and 2018 World Series and … OK, here’s the deal. They can play the next three games straight with Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and then Kershaw going. I think Dave Roberts has finally decided on who his top relievers are: Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen from the right side and then maybe Victor Gonzalez and Jake McGee from the left side. Trouble is, he had all those righties available in Game 2 (only Baez pitched in Game 1), yet he used the struggling May and then Joe Kelly, and those two combined to give up four runs (he got away with using Alex Wood, the worst pitcher on the staff). This is the World Series. It’s not time to save your best relievers for only when you’re ahead. It’s important to hold down the fort at all times and … oh, wait, you were asking about the “travel” day, not the Dodgers’ bullpen. My bad.

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