Oct 12

ALDS Games Four, NLDS Games Three

Early AL game: Royals at Astros, 10:00AM PT, TV: FS1

The Astros have a 2-1 lead and send rookie Lance McCullers out to try to win the series. The Royals send first-game (but only two innings thanks to rain) starter Yordano Ventura out to keep the Astros from doing that.

Late AL Game: Blue Jays at Rangers, 1:00PM PT, TV: FS1

The Rangers lead the series 2-1 and hope to win at home. They’ll send out Derek Holland, who’s been in 13 post-season games in his career. He and the Rangers will face R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. This will be Dickey’s first postseason start.

Early NL Game: Cardinals at Cubs 3:00PM PT, TV: TBS

The series is tied 1-1. The Cubs like their chances in this game, and who wouldn’t? They send All Second-Half pitcher Jake Arrieta to the mound to face the Cardinals, who counter with Michael Wacha.

Late NL Game: Dodgers at Mets, 5:30PM PT, TV: TBS

First, I think this game is going to start on TNT rather than TBS unless the Cubs-Cards game is a blowout; I don’t believe the first game will come in under 2 1/2 hours as it would have to for there to be a seamless switch at 5:30PM PT.

Second, Utley. The latest word is that his appeal is “unlikely to be heard today.”

Utley’s representatives and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association asked for time to prepare their case, which would make Utley eligible to play until a hearing takes place.

Now, the game itself. The Dodgers send Brett Anderson to the hill in his second postseason appearance (2012 for the As), while the Mets send Matt Harvey and his “will he or won’t he throw more than 180 innings this year?” controversy (he wound up throwing 189 1/3 in the regular season) to the mound. Anderson was the best ground-ball pitcher in the big leagues this year, inducing them at a 66.3% rate. Harvey was 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA at home, far better than he was on the road.

This will be the first postseason game ever played at Citi Field; all previous Mets’ appearances were at Shea Stadium.

Lineup when available.

What? No Utley?


Oct 11

ALDS Games Three, 2015

Early game: Royals at Astros, 1:00PM PT, TV: MLBN

The Royals send Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55 ERA) out to face the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA). Keuchel is the American League’s only 20-game winner and went six scoreless innings in the Wild Card game against the Yankees. Volquez has been a serviceable pitcher his entire 11-year career, winning 13 for the second year in a row. MLB has some more game notes.

Late game: Blue Jays at Rangers, 5:00PM PT, TV: FS1

The Blue Jays are down 0-2 in this series and have to win today. To that end they send Marco Estrada (who?) out to save their season. He was 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA on the year. The Rangers counter with lefty Martin Perez (3-6, 4.46 ERA). He would seem to be an odd choice, since right-handed batters hit .304 against him this season and the Jays have a lot of them. He finished strongly, though, giving up only one earned run over 13 innings in his last two starts. Game notes.

Oct 10

NLDS Games Two, 2015

First game: Cubs at Cardinals, 2:30PM PT, TV: TBS

Down 1-0, the Cubs hope to bounce back with right-hander Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95 ERA) going against the Cardinals’ lefty Jaime Garcia (10-6, 2.43 ERA). They would really like to see their Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Kris Bryant break out of his 3-for-30 slump in his last eight games. He’s never seen Garcia, but then only Starlin Castro of the Cubs has: the last time Garcia pitched against Chicago was in 2012. The Cardinals have seen quite a bit of the Cubs’ Hendricks, and some of them have done quite well against him.

Second game: Mets at Dodgers, 6:00PM PT, TV: TBS

The Dodgers send Zack Greinke (19-3, 1.66 ERA) to stop the Mets and their rookie righthander Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA). The Dodgers’ hitting is not firing on all cylinders, and some of that can be laid at the feet of the Mets’ de Grom last night. They have to get untracked today or they go to New York down two games to none with the prospect of having to win three straight to advance to the NLCS.

Don’t despair, Dodgers fans! From Roger Angell’s World Series column in 1965:

The Twins, having devoured Drysdale and Koufax on successive afternoons, now disposed of Perranoski.


I came away with the curious impression that the Twins, after two straight victories, were only slightly behind in the World Series.

And we all remember how that Series turned out, don’t we?

Oct 09

NLDS Opening Games, 2015

First game: Cubs at Cardinals, 3:30PM PT, TV: TBS

The Cubs and Cardinals have been rivals for decades, but this is the first time they’ll face one another in the postseason. As if that weren’t enough, the opposing pitchers once played together for the Red Sox.

John Lester (11-12, 3.34 ERA) starts for the Cubs, while John Lackey (13-10, 2.77 ERA) starts for the Cardinals. Lackey leads all active pitchers in two playoff categories: today will make his 19th playoff start and he’s already thrown 117 postseason innings. Lester has a 6-4 record with a 2.57 ERA in the postseason himself.

Further game notes here.

Second game: Mets at Dodgers, 6:30PM PT, TV: TBS

LHP Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA) starts for the Dodgers. RHP Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA) starts for the Mets. Kershaw’s only blemish in his brilliant career is his 1-5 record and 5.12 ERA in the postseason. This will be deGrom’s first playoff appearance. He faced the Dodgers once this season and gave up two hits over 7 2/3 innings.

The Mets added Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson in mid-season and got David Wright back as well. “It’s a completely different lineup, not just Cespedes,” Kershaw said. “…a completely different team. Obviously, a lot better than what we faced in July.”

Dodgers’ playoff roster:

Lineup when available.

Oct 09

ALDS Games Two, 2015

Early game: It’s really early. Rangers at Blue Jays, 9:30AM PT, TV: MLBN

Mid-season pickup and playoff veteran LHP Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65 ERA) will pitch for the Rangers. He’ll face RHP Marcus Stroman, who posted a 4-0, 1.67 ERA after recovering from an ACL he tore in spring training. The Jays’ Josh Donaldson was hit in the head with Rougned Odor’s knee, but he’s passed the concussion protocols and may start. The Rangers’ Adrian Beltre strained his lower back but hopes to play.

Late game: Astros at Royals, 12:30PM PT, TV: FS1

Midseason pickup Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros. He’s 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA overall this season, 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA for Houston. The Royals counter with their own trade deadline pitcher, Johnny Cueto. He’s 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA overall and 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA for Kansas City.

Oct 08

ALDS opening games, 2015

Early game: Rangers at Jays, 12:30PM PT, TV: FS1

Texas asks Yovani Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) to start its first post-season game in three years. He’ll face the Blue Jays’ David Price (18-5, 2.45 ERA and an even more brilliant 9-1, 2.30 ERA since becoming a Jay mid-season).

Both these teams are hot. The Blue Jays went 40-18 (.690) over the final two months; the Rangers went 38-22 (.633) over the same period.

Is history any guide?

Toronto won each of its two three-game series against Texas this year, leading to a 4-2 advantage in the overall season series. The teams last matched up Aug. 25-27 in Texas, where Toronto won the first two games and lost the finale.

Late game: Astros at Royals, 4:30PM PT, TV: FS1

The Astros send out Collin McHugh, (19-7, 3.89 ERA, and who knew the Astros had a 19-game winner?) to face the Royals’ Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA). That record’s a little misleading: Ventura was sent to the minors in July and almost instantly recalled as an injury replacement; since that time he’s gone 9-1 with a 3.10 ERA.


The bottom-line offensive production of these two teams was virtually identical over 162 games. The Royals played in the tougher hitter’s park, but still it can’t get much closer than this. The Astros were sixth in the Majors in runs scored with 4.50 per game, while the Royals were seventh with an average of 4.47.

Oct 06

Wild Card Games, 2015

Today is the American League Wild Card (or play-in, if this were the NCAA basketball tournament) game. Tomorrow is the National League’s version. Comment or ignore as you wish. If you prefer to keep discussing the Dodgers’ playoff possibilities, use the thread below.

Howard Cole (former Dodger blogger) has some thoughts about postseason experience — does it help or does it matter? He cites rookies who’ve done amazing things and veterans who’ve failed miserably, and he cites other cases when the opposite took place.

Today: Astros at Yankees, 8:00PM ET, ESPN (which makes history by putting Jessica Mendoza in the broadcast booth alongside John Kruk and Dan Shulman)

The Astros start Dallas Kuechel on three days rest. He was 15-0 at home and 5-8 on the road this season with a 2.48 ERA and 16 scoreless innings against the Yankees. The Yankees start Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA), who missed his next-to-last start with a strained hamstring and in his last start went five innings and gave up four runs.

Nothing against the Yankees (well, except the eight times they’ve beaten the Dodgers in the World Series), but I’m rooting for the Astros in this one. They’ve had several awful years and weren’t expected to get this good until next season.

Tomorrow: Cubs at Pirates, 8:00PM ET, TBS (Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Simpson)

Two aces go at one another in this game: the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA including a no-hitter against the Dodgers) versus the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60 ERA). I’m uncertain who I’m rooting for here. As a baseball fan it’s hard not to hope the Cubs advance, but I’ve always had stronger feelings for the Buccos.

Oct 04

Pre-playoff Palaver

Have at it. Who’s on first? Which pitchers are on the roster, and whose dreams are crushed? Should Yasiel Puig be on the first-round roster? What about the injured Scott Van Slyke? Should Seager start at shortstop or should it be Rollins? Should Utley be on the 25-man roster?

Do the Mets’ starting pitchers hold a candle to the Greinke/Kershaw combination? Should it be Wood as the number three starter, or should it be Anderson? It’s ironic that gaining home field advantage means the Dodgers’ #3 starter, whether Wood or Anderson, will start on the road. Anderson was 7-4 away from Dodger Stadium with a 3.07 ERA while Wood was 2-4 with a 6.14 ERA.

Oct 04

Game 162, 2015

Padres at Dodgers, 12:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FSSD. The game is available to stream free out of market on MLB.TV.

Clayton Kershaw makes his 33rd start for the Dodgers this season hunting for 300 strikeouts (he needs six) and his 17th win. He’s also put up an ERA of 2.16. The Padres’ lefty Frank Garces will make his first major league start but only go one inning. San Diego wants to look at several relievers one last time to see who they might want to keep around next season.

Don Mattingly says Puig won’t start today but will either pinch-hit or be part of a double-switch. I assume that’s an attempt to save his hamstrings from too much effort too soon.

Playoff talk can continue in the Pre-postseason thread below.

Lineup when available.

Oct 03

Game 161, 2015

Padres at Dodgers, 6:10PM PT, TV: SPNLA, FSSD, MLB.TV (free game)

Zack Greinke looks to lower his ERA even further, win his nineteenth game and fend of Jake Arrietta’s late charge for the NL Cy Young Award. What more needs to be said about him? His opponent will be lefty Robbie Erlin, who’s 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA. He’s made two appearances for the Padres this season, both starts. The first was against Colorado; he went three innings and gave up nine hits and seven runs, all earned. His next start was against the Diamondbacks; he went seven innings and gave up two hits and no runs.

The Nationals beat the Mets 3-1 in the opening game of their doubleheader, which puts the Dodgers a full game up on the Mets in the race for home field advantage.

Lineup when available.

A Puig sighting!