Settle in for a quadruple header of playoff baseball [Division Series Preview and Live Thread]
The first game of the day is Game 2 of the Pirates and Cardinals (1:07, MLB Network). The Pirates don't have a long turnaround time to get over Game 1's blowout loss. This afternoon they turn to the rookie Gerritt Cole to get them back on track. The former #1 pick has always had ace stuff, but for whatever reason, it didn't show in his results in the minors or in his first few starts in the bigs. In September though, Cole showed all that potential and then some, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA and an 11.0 K/9 ratio. The Pirates need him to absorb the moment and pitch like that in order to get back into the series. The Cardinals counter with veteran Lance Lynn. His 3.91 ERA this year is only good for a 91 ERA+, but at home he sported a 2.82 ERA, and was also excellent down the stretch. He is St. Louis's last veteran in the rotation before going to the youngsters the rest of the time. The lineups are the same for both teams except that Jordy Mercer will start at shortstop and bat 8th for Pittsburgh over Clint Barmes (who had an error in yesterday's third inning meltdown).
In the second of the day, the ALDS series between Tampa Bay and Boston gets started (3:07, TBS). This is the fourth different city in six days the Rays have played. Matt Moore, who pitched Game 162, gets the nod for Tampa. Moore has held right handed hitters to a .672 OPS this year, which is important given Boston's right handed power. The Red Sox as a whole really don't give pitchers a break with their lineup. Jon Lester takes the hill for Boston, a reward for him after his bounce back 2013. Boston should be the favorite in this series, but Rays-Red Sox games tend to be close, and often filled with bad blood.
Moving into the evening hours is Game 2 of the Dodgers and Braves (6:07, TBS). Last night the Dodgers got to Kris Medlen in the middle innings, giving plenty of run support to Clayton Kershaw. The almost certain Cy Young winner struck out 12 Braves despite not even seeming that sharp at times. Strikeouts are the bane of the Atlanta offense, and unfortunately, they face another swing and miss pitcher today in Zach Greinke. Greinke certainly made the argument he's the best #2 starter in the game with a 2.63 ERA, ranking 4th in the NL. Mike Minor gets the start for Atlanta, his postseason debut. The 25 year old led the team in inning pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, and K/BB ratio. He'll get his shot at taming Yasiel Puig and the rest of the Dodgers lineup.
The night ends with Game 1 of the Tigers and Athletics (9:37, TBS). The pitching matchup couldn't be more different. The Tigers are not surprisingly going with the presumptive AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who led the league in WHIP and was second in K/9 ratio. The A's counter with Bartolo Colon, who actually had an ERA lower that Scherzer (2.65 vs. 2.90) despite a strikeout rate barely more than half the Tigers fireballer. This whole series is about contrast. The Tigers have all that elite talent, but there are questions, particularly about Miguel Cabrera's health. Oakland doesn't have really anyone spectacular, but they're solid all around and don't make mistakes. This is a rematch of last year's Division Series, won in 5 by the Tigers thanks to Verlander in Game 5. The teams are similar to last year, but not quite the same, so how will it go this time?
Q it up here throughout today, and stay tune for further coverage of the day's postseason action.