People are saying the MLB playoffs thus far have had the random energy of college sports. Well, I guess they didn’t watch the No. 1 Houston Astros steamroll their way into the ALCS, but in five of seven series this postseason, there’s been wild upsets and drama, none more exciting than the San Diego Padres finally “slaying the dragon up the freeway” in Game 4 NLDS, with Manny Machado and Adam Jones sharing a big hug postgame.
Back on the AL side, the Astros await their ALCS rival as the final division series between the Yankees and the Guardians is yet to conclude. This series should be over, it feels like. Twice, the Guardians failed to close out the Division Series despite having the Yankees on the ropes, and last night’s game was unexpectedly rained out. There’s no love lost for Yankees fans in these parts, but I’m picturing what it’d feel like to make it out to the stadium expecting Game 5, then wait 2.5 hrs in the rain only to be told the game is postponed. Crappy, to say the least. Boo to whoever was in charge of that decision-making/shoddy communication.
The prolonging of the ALDS makes this the first time in history that the NLCS and the ALDS overlap, should that be a fact that you care about.
Yankees at Guardians, 4:00, TBS
Starting pitchers: Nestor Cortes (NYY), Aaron Civale (CLE)
This series will finally get decided this afternoon. Cleveland was considering starting their former Cy Younger Shane Bieber, but with Bieber on short rest, they give Aaron Civale—who hasn’t pitched in almost two weeks—the nod instead. It’s not a great matchup for Cleveland, although Bieber has said he hopes to be called on out of the bullpen.
To make matters worse, the Guardians have struggled against lefties all season and the Yankees are starting tricky lefty Nestor Cortes. In Game 2 of the ALDS, Cortes held Cleveland to two runs on six hits in five innings. One piece of luck in Cleveland’s favor: Cortes is going on short rest, and according to MLB.com, starters having zero to three days off since their last start have gone just 30-47 with a 4.59 ERA in the Wild Card era.
Padres at Philies, 8:00, FS1
Starting pitchers: Zack Wheeler (PHI), Yu Darvish (SDP)
The 87-win Phillies fired their manager in June and just crawled into the postseason with a miserable September that threatened to leave them outside looking in. But they’re peaking at the right time, knocking off the Cardinals, who’d won six more regular-season games than them, in the WCS, and the Braves, who’d won 14 more games than them, in the NLDS. Phillies ace Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82 ERA) spent a month on the IL with forearm tendinitis, but since coming back on September 21, he’s got a 1.32 ERA in five outings, including a 2.19 ERA in two postseason starts.
Wheeler and the Phillies will be facing another exciting upstart in the Padres, who on their way to being here knocked off the 101-win Mets and the 111-win Dodgers in an epic Game 4 at home in Petco Park. Yu Darvish would have started Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on short rest, but the win at home means he’ll start Game 1 on regular rest. Darvish was shaky against the Dodgers, allowing three home runs in six innings, but he’s been the Padres’ most consistent starter all season, with a 3.10 ERA across 30 starts.
Among the interesting matchups facilitated by this series: former Nationals teammates Bryce Harper and Juan Soto, plus Nola brothers Aaron (an ace for Philly) against Austin (Padres catcher). In six career plate appearances against his brother, Austin is 1-for-5 with a single and a walk.