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NL Wild Card open thread

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Madison Bumgarner vs. Edinson Volquez

Thearon W. Henderson

What a long, strange journey it's been for Edinson Volquez. After five years in which his best years were mediocre, teams continued to employ Volquez in hopes of the form he once showed, back in 2009. Sure, there were flashes -- 2012 wasn't half bad, and the peripherals in 2010 were solid -- but he was never the 4 win pitcher he was in 2009. In reality, he was only a 1 win pitcher at his best. Now, strangely, the peripherals have remained uninspiring with virtually identical FIP/xFIP to previous years, but an elavated strand rate and fortunate BABIP has him finishing up a 2014 campaign with a 3.05 ERA, the best of his career. He's done this with the worst strikeout rate in years, but he's also harnessed his previously wild control.

He'll take the mound for the Pirates in their second playoff appearance in the past three years after a long drought of their own, facing the Giants. The Giants turn to Madison Bumgarner, routinely overlooked in the NL West. Bumgarner has quietly and consistently been of the league's better pitchers for five years running, this year setting career highs in innings and strikeouts. The Giants have won the World Series each of the two times they've made a playoff appearance in the last ten years.

This is a harder one to choose rooting interest for -- the Giants have been my adopted NL team for a while, but they've had their moment in the spotlight, while Pittsburgh hasn't. Though the luster has worn off after they broke their winning season drought, it's still a city that's relatively new to baseball success, and that's always fun.

Besides, nothing can top last night, which was easily one of the most entertaining, maddening, and exciting playoff games in baseball history. Yost'd. Wait, they won?

Game info:

TV: ESPN, MLB.tv (domestic blackout rules apply)

Today's Lineups

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Gregor Blanco - CF Josh Harrison - 3B
Joe Panik - 2B Jordy Mercer - SS
Buster Posey - C Andrew McCutchen - CF
Pablo Sandoval - 3B Russell Martin - C
Hunter Pence - RF Starling Marte - LF
Brandon Belt - 1B Neil Walker - 2B
Brandon Crawford - SS Gaby Sanchez - 1B
Travis Ishikawa - LF Travis Snider - RF
Madison Bumgarner - LHP Edinson Volquez - RHP