It’s one of my favourite days of the year - 4 playoff games, one right after (or during) the other, starting and 2:05 ET and going until after midnight. We are only ever guaranteed 1 such day a year (barring rainouts), so enjoy it today, although we may get it again on Monday as long as there are no NL sweeps.
Kicking things off is...
Toeing the rubber for Cleveland is none other than 2 time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Kluber had another fantastic year, winning 20 games for the first time in his career while putting up a 2.89 ERA. His strikeouts were a bit low for him, as he struck out just 9.29 per 9 innings, a low point since he broke out in 2014. But his walk rate was also a carer low at 1.42 per 9 innings. He’s one of the best pitchers of his generation.
He’s going up against another one of the best pitchers of his generation in Justin Verlander. Verlander also had a magnificent season, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA. The Astros are no doubt happy they added him, as on top of the help he gave them last year winning it all, he is poised to do it again (and again and again).
Verlander struck out a career high 290 batters this season, at a very impressive 12.20 per 9 inning rate. He also walked just 1.56 per 9 innings over his 214 innings, both of which were the second best in the American League, behind Kluber.
I won’t give a rundown of the lineups today, but MLB.com’s preview of the game has got you covered there. I will touch on a couple points though:
- I’m super excited to watch Josh Donaldson rake with all of his new friends. He typically bats 5th, which is crazy. He has looked like the Donaldson of old in Cleveland too, hitting .280/.400/.520 with 3 home runs in 60 PA.
- After dealing with back issues when the Astros came to Toronto, it seems like Carlos Correa is healthy and ready to go. It actually seems like the entire lineup is healthy and ready to rock, an impressive culmination considering so many of them missed time this year with various maladies.
The second game of the day is game 2 of the Rockies and Brewers, with the Brewers holding the 1-0 series edge after yesterday’s walkoff single by Mike Moustakas. Today’s game is scheduled for 4:15 ET.
Pitching for the Rockies will be Tyler Anderson, the lefty who finally put in a full and healthy season at the big league level. Through 32 games, he went 7-9 with a 4.55 ERA, with home runs being the major culprit of his. I’m not going to look it up, but I’m going to guess fairly confidently that his 2018 HR/9 rate of 1.53 will be the highest among all pitchers who will make a start this postseason.
On the mound for the Brewers will be former Rockie Jhoulys Chacin. The left handed Chacin had a big season for the Brewers, leading the Majors in starts with 35, while going 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA. His FIP is just over half a run worse, as Chacin did a below average job of getting strikeouts and limiting walks, but he did do a pretty god job of preventing home runs, even though he set a low point for him in GB%.
Pivoting to the lineups, and you’ll have to take a quick look at my article from yesterday, or the box score I guess, to see an approximation. However, both teams are facing a lefty today after facing righties yesterday, so there will likely be some changes.
For the Rockies, Matt Holliday is probably going to get the start in LF while Carlos Gonzalez sits.
For the Brewers, Jonathan Schoop appears to be the second baseman in place of Travis Shaw.
The third game on the slate is the Yankees visiting the Red Sox, two of the three winningest teams in baseball. I’ll try to get excited for this series, which include the 20th to maybe 24th times that they will face off with each other this season. Some people think this series is good for baseball, while many others are tired of them. Either way, millions will be watching as they start their Friday Night Primetime event at 7:32 ET.
The Yankees will send former Blue Jay J.A. Happ to the mound to take on the Red Sox. This was pretty much the reason that the Yankees were so hard after Happ at the deadline, as he has done quite well against the Red Sox the last couple years, throwing 46.1 innings and holding them to a 1.94 ERA. Happ also did well for the Yankees down the stretch and helped ensure the AL Wild Card Game was played in Yankee Stadium as well by going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in Pinstripes. If the Yankees can get a great start or 2 out of Happ in this series, McKinney and Drury can become stars and the Yankees might still be happy with this trade.
On the mound for the men in red stockings is fellow left hander Chris Sale. Sale fought through shoulder inflammation that had him on the shelf for a month. Upon return, he eased his way back into the rotation, throwing 1, 3, 3.1 and 4.2 innings in his 4 September starts. He got knocked around a little bit in the last 2, although the strikeouts were still there. Manager Alex Cora claims that Sale is 100% and ready to go, so we’ll see how he fares tonight.
MLB.com has the lineup probables so I won’t post them here. These are the 2 highest scoring offenses in the game going head to head, and I can get why there is excitement over this series.
I’m excited for the matchup of the postseason happening in this one - Steve Pearce vs J.A. Happ! Pearce has a .344/.450/.969 line in 32 PA head to head, launching 6 home runs.
The final game on the slate, for those whose thirst for baseball has not yet been quenched, is game 2 for the Braves and Dodgers, which gets underway at 9:37 ET. The Dodgers will look to build off their 6-0 drubbing of the Braves last night.
Pitching for the Braves will be Anibal Sanchez, the right hander who had a rejuvenation this season. After struggling with injuries and ineffectiveness the last few years in Detroit, the veteran signed with the Braves for $1m, and turned in his best season since 2014. In 24 starts, Sanchez went 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA. He kept runners off the bases, holding them to a .277 wOBA on the season and a 1.08 WHIP.
Opposing Sanchez for the Dodgers is the great Clayton Kershaw. There was some contention in why he didn’t start game 1 for the Dodgers, something that he has done for 5 straight years before last night, but things turned out well for the Dodgers. Now they have their Ace of Aces on the mound for game 2, looking to head to Atlanta with a 2-0 lead.
Kershaw had a great, but very un-Kershawian season in 2018. He missed time yet again this season struggling through back problems, but he still made 26 starts and went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA. That’s the highest ERA he has allowed since 2010. The major culprit is probably the reduction in strikeouts that he saw this season, as he struck out batters at a career low rate of 8.65 per 9 innings, a far cry from his career 9.77 mark. He also allowed more home runs than normal, at 0.95 per 9 innings, the second worst mark of his career. And that all led to a 3.19 FIP, the highest number he has put up there since his rookie season. But these are all still really great numbers. He’s just not going win the Cy Young award this season is all.
The lineups for this one will likely look exactly like last night’s which can be found in the box score here. I don’t really have much to about this, aside from Max Muncy is a god, and it’s not fair that the Dodgers keep getting big breakouts like this.
Find the Link
Find the link between... I don’t know. This was a lot of work. Let’s go with Sale, Kluber, Verlander and Kershaw. And don’t overthink it.