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Thursday National League playoffs open thread

The wild card games are over. Now we’re down to proper series. The best-of-five NLDS matchups start tonight.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs
Nick Markakis and teammates are in action tonight.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

If you prefer real baseball, where pitchers are not forced to hit and sad-sack #8 batters are not regularly issued intentional walks, today is not your day, as there will only be National League Division Series action on Thursday. That’s the way it goes. Maybe there will be some enjoyable baseball despite this flaw.

The nights of one-and-done baseball are over. Now we can sink our teeth into some best-of-five series. The Cardinals and Braves are up first in Atlanta, with the strange scheduled start time of 5:02, with the Dodgers and Nationals in Los Angeles later, starting at 8:37 Eastern. Both games will air on TBS, though if there’s any overlap, you’ll have to check and see which channel gets the early parts of the later game.

The early game will feature Nick Markakis, who’s still hanging in there with the Braves. There are a lot of good reasons not to root for the Braves for anything, but Markakis is one of those former Orioles where I will certainly be happy for any success he might get to enjoy in this postseason. Plus, Dexter Fowler is on the Cardinals, and you don’t want to root for him, do you?

Markakis is the #5 batter in the Braves lineup, though his .776 OPS doesn’t scream “middle of the lineup bat.” He batted fifth in 100 Braves games this season! They made it work for them, that’s for sure, with the team winning 97 regular season games.

The 91-win Cardinals had the fewest wins of any of the MLB division leaders this season. It seems that they are very fortunate that the Cubs fell out of the top tier of teams.

Here are the lineups for the first game:

Cardinals lineup

  1. Dexter Fowler - RF
  2. Tommy Edman - 3B
  3. Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
  4. Marcell Ozuna - LF
  5. Yadier Molina - C
  6. Paul Dejong - SS
  7. Kolten Wong - 2B
  8. Harrison Bader - CF
  9. Miles Mikolas - RHP

I still kind of wish the Orioles had signed Mikolas before last year, just because his name is similar to Miles Morales, one of the versions of Spider-Man. Alas, Mikolas went to St. Louis, where he’s posted a 3.46 ERA over 64 starts since coming back to MLB. Maybe he would have been a lot worse in the AL East, or maybe the Dan Duquette people were just really horrible at telling who was and wasn’t a good starting pitcher.

Braves lineup

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr. - CF
  2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
  4. Josh Donaldson - 3B
  5. Nick Markakis - LF
  6. Matt Joyce - RF
  7. Brian McCann - C
  8. Dansby Swanson - SS
  9. Dallas Keuchel - LHP

Maybe some day the Orioles will have a couple of players as young and exciting as Acuna and Albies at the same time. For now, we’ll have to settle for enviously looking at other teams lineups.