Even though the Orioles season has come to an end, Major League Baseball’s odd 2020 campaign marches on. The expanded playoffs begin today with a quadruple header of American League Wild Card matchups.
We should pause here to lay out how this year’s postseason is going to flow, because it’s gonna be a little different.
The 2020 playoffs will include 16 teams (eight from each league). Each of those teams will compete in a best-of-three Wild Card round. The winners will progress to a best-of-five Division Series, followed by a best-of-seven Championship Series, and finally a best-of-seven World Series.
A factor that will be interesting to monitor is that while there will be at least one off day prior to the start of each series, there will be zero off days within each series, except for the World Series. So, pitching staffs could get thin quite fast.
Also, following the conclusion of the Wild Card round, all games will switch to four neutral sites: Petco Park and Dodger Stadium for the ALDS games, and Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park for the NLDS. The ALCS will be held at Petco Park. While Globe Life Field will host both the NLCS and the World Series. You can find the exact postseason schedule over at MLB.com.
Here is what we have on the docket for today:
Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins, 2:08 p.m. ET, ABC
It’s a matchup of veteran right-handers at Target Field in Minneapolis. Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA in 2020) takes the hill for Houston. He started five times in the playoffs for them last year and struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing six home runs in 25 innings. Starting for the Twins is Kenta Maeda (6-1, 2.70 ERA). The longtime Dodger has plenty of playoff experience, but he has not started a postseason game since 2016.
Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics, 3:08 p.m. ET, ESPN
Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.48 ERA) threw a no-hitter on August 25, and now he will be making his postseason debut for a White Sox team that struggled down the stretch, losing seven of their final eight regular season games. Left-hander Jesus Luzardo (3-2, 4.12 ERA) starts for Oakland. The southpaw enjoyed his home cooking this season, allowing just 11 runs over 41.1 innings pitched at home plus a .215 opponent’s batting average.
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays, 5:07 p.m. ET, TBS
Despite having the second-lowest payroll (ahead of only the Orioles) in MLB, Tampa Bay dominated the American League all summer. The 40-win Rays will turn to 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA), who struck out an impressive 11.34 batters per nine innings, but also posted a career-worst home run rate (1.80 HR/9). For the Jays, it will be up to Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA), an eight-year MLB vet that will be making just his second career playoff appearance and his first since 2014.
New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians, 7:08 p.m. ET, ESPN
From a pitching standpoint, this is the premier face-off of the day and possibly the entire playoffs. For the Yankees, it’s Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA), the $324 million man that finished second in the voting for the AL Cy Young a year ago and might earn a few more votes this time around. For the Indians, it’s Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA), the Cy Young front-runner for 2020 that posted a ridiculous 14.20 K/9 rate in this abbreviated season.
This post won’t be updating with the lineups for EVERY game, but since the managers have released the lineups for the first game of the day prior to posting, we do have those:
- CF George Springer
- 2B Jose Altuve
- DH Michael Brantley
- 3B Alex Bregman
- LF Kyle Tucker
- 1B Yuli Gurriel
- SS Carlos Correa
- RF Josh Reddick
- C Martin Maldonado
RHP Zack Greinke
- 2B Luis Arraez
- CF Byron Buxton
- RF Max Kepler
- DH Nelson Cruz
- LF Eddie Rosario
- 1B Miguel Sano
- SS Jorge Polanco
- C Ryan Jeffers
- 3B Marwin Gonzalez
RHP Kenta Maeda
There won’t be any fans, and the Orioles won’t be taking part. But playoff baseball is still pretty fun.