Rich Hill and Aaron Sanchez each had their best starts of the postseason last night. Both went six innings and were able to give their clubs’ taxed bullpens a bit of rest in the ‘Playoffs of the Reliever’. Today’s games feature a Toronto team still at home, still gasping for air in a
Skydome Rogers Centre that is rapidly filling with water. The Dodgers will also host the outwardly calm Cubs and their outwardly panicked supporters later this evening.
Cleveland at Toronto (CLE leads 3-1) 1:00 PM PT
It feels like I have written as many game threads featuring Marco Estrada as I have about James Paxton. The man has been the best pitcher on the Blue Jays in these playoffs. He has gone over 8 IP in both of his starts. For Toronto, who have had the shakiest bullpen of any of the remaining teams, a similar performance would be an enormous blessing. Ryan Merritt will be the starter for Cleveland, in a fairly surprising choice. This will be the 24 year-old’s 5th career appearance, his 2nd start at the MLB level, and his first action of the postseason. While he had some success in 11 innings in the regular season, putting a 6’ tall rookie left hander who doesn't generate many swings and misses against Bautista, Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Tulowitzki doesn't seem particularly advisable. Even if the plan is to lean heavily on the bullpen, Terry Francona and Cleveland seem, externally, to be playing some long odds today.
|CLEVELAND INDIANS||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Carlos Santana - 1B||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Jason Kipnis - 2B||Josh Donaldson - 3B|
|Francisco Lindor - SS||Edwin Encarnacion - 1B|
|Mike Napoli - DH||Troy Tulowitzki - SS|
|Jose Ramirez - 3B||Russell Martin - C|
|Lonnie Chisenhall - RF||Melvin Upton Jr. - DH|
|Coco Crisp - LF||Ezequiel Carrera - LF|
|Tyler Naquin - CF||Kevin Pillar - CF|
|Roberto Perez - C||Darwin Barney - 2B|
|Ryan Merritt - LHP||Marco Estrada - RHP|
FiveThirtyEight: 60% Toronto win.
Cubs at Dodgers (LAD leads 2-1) 5:00 PM PT
One of the largest age discrepancies in modern playoff histories will be on display this evening, with 20 year-old Julio Urías on the mound against
49 37 year-old grinch, John Lackey. Urías has already surpassed the somewhat vague parameters of the innings limit that had been outlined by his agent, Scott Boras, as his 119 innings during the regular season have been added to. The Dodgers have had buona fortuna starting left-handed pitchers so far against the Cubs (it helps when those lefties happen to be Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw, of course) and they will hope Urías can lead them to their third straight victory. As a lover of good pickoff moves but also fairness and sporting etiquette, I encourage you at home to get out a protractor and measure whether Urías steps at a 45 degree angle or less when making a throw to first. If there is anyone who is likely do such a thing within the stadium, it will be Lackey himself. Between stints as an unwritten rules vigilante and his modeling career as the base template for the AMPM monstrosity, Lackey has found time to be an excellent pitcher this year. He made it just four innings against the Giants in his most recent start, but has the ability to go six, or perhaps even let Joe Maddon utilize another of his aces in relief. With the entirety of the Cubs offense not named Bryant or Baez swinging with the enthusiasm of The Hound from Game of Thrones if he was hired to rescue Joffrey from a burning building, Lackey and whoever comes behind him may need to be lockdown. MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo has put up a -16 wRC+ in the postseason, and Rizzo and Addison Russell have combined to go an inconceivable 3 for 50 in the playoffs. Something has to change, or the Curse is going to add another tally to its record.
|CHICAGO CUBS||LOS ANGELES DODGERS|
|Dexter Fowler - CF||Chase Utley - 2B|
|Kris Bryant - 3B||Corey Seager - SS|
|Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Justin Turner - 3B|
|Ben Zobrist - LF||Adrian Gonzalez - 1B|
|Javier Baez - 2B||Josh Reddick - RF|
|Willson Contreras - C||Joc Pederson - CF|
|Jason Heyward - RF||Yasmani Grandal - C|
|Addison Russell - SS||Andrew Toles - LF|
|John Lackey - RHP||Julio Urias - LHP|
FiveThirtyEight: 51% Cubs win.