I’m working on a decent preamble for a forthcoming edition of The Rundown, but let’s take a quick look this morning at the upcoming Wild Card series. Baseball kicks off its run to the World Series this afternoon.
- Rangers at Rays (2pm CT, ABC) – This could be one of the more exciting series because it features two of the top offenses in baseball. Tyler Glasnow takes the bump in today’s first playoff game against Jordan Montgomery. Texas would rather have Max Scherzer available, but he’s regressing in his comeback attempt from a teres major strain in his shoulder. The Rangers have enough power to beat Tampa Bay, but Glasnow and Zach Eflin are formidable neutralizers. The AL West runners-up will also be without Jacob deGrom, while the Rays will be missing Shane McClanahan. Texas blew 33 of 63 save opportunities in the regular season, even with Aroldis Chapman. I’ll take Tampa Bay in two.
- Blue Jays at Twins (3:30pm CT, ESPN) – The stakes for the Twins are obvious. They’re riding an 18-game postseason losing streak that is far more crushing than the Cubs’ 2023 collapse. The Twins’ last playoff win was in 2004 and their last series victory came in the 2002 ALDS when they eliminated the Moneyball A’s. Pitching will determine which team advances and the pairings are about as equal as it gets. Kevin Gausman battles Pablo López today, then it’s Chris Bassitt vs. Sonny Gray and José Berríos vs. Joe Ryan in the rubber game, if necessary. It’s tough for any road team to escape the first round, but give me the Jays in three.
- Diamondbacks at Brewers (6pm CT, ESPN2) – I can’t believe I despise the Diamondbacks more than the Brewers, but thanks to Chicago’s 1-6 record against Arizona, here we are. Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes and D-backs right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly are three of the top seven starters in the NL. Throw in Freddy Peralta, who enjoyed a spectacular season pitching for the Brewers, and the offensive output from this series could be non-existent so get ready for pitching duels. If it goes three games, Milwaukee will ride the shoulders of old friend Wade Miley because Brandon Woodruff (shoulder) has been ruled out. If the Brewers can generate any offense, they’ll win in two because they have the better bullpen and home-field advantage.
- Marlins at Phillies (7pm CT, ESPN) – The Phillies have star, plate, and pitching power, while the Marlins are like pesky gnats that tend to ruin picnics and barbecues. In addition to spotlight players Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Brandon Marsh, Philadelphia will run starters Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suárez at Miami. The Marlins will rely on a strong, mostly left-handed bullpen to stop the Phillies. Injuries to reigning NL Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcántara and rookie sensation Eury Pérez leave the Marlins rotation far from full strength, but Game 1 starter lefty Jesús Luzardo looks like a tricky matchup for a lefty-dependent Phillies lineup. The Marlins need to win Game 1 or it will be over in two. This series won’t go three games, and the Phillies will advance.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs intend to do “everything they can” to trade for Pete Alonso and pair him with Cody Bellinger in 2024, according to Bruce Levine.
- I certainly don’t want to discredit Mr. Levine, but new Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said he “expects” Pete Alonso to be the team’s Opening Day first baseman.
- Alexander Canario will play in the DWL instead of the AFL.
- Baseball America says that Kevin Alcántara is the top player on the Mesa Solar Sox and one of seven players to keep an eye on during AFL play.
- Owen Caissie, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Cade Horton were named to MLB Pipeline’s All-Prospect Team.
Odds & Sods
“I figure I had no business being here this long anyway, so what do you care how old I am? I’ve been on borrowed time for years. You know my old saying: ‘Live it up, the meter’s running.’ If you don’t have fun while you’re here, then it’s your fault. You only get to do this once.” – Harry Caray
Baseball was better with Harry Caray. pic.twitter.com/k6VghzItxE
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) October 3, 2023
- Milwaukee: It looks like Woodruff will miss the entire postseason due to a capsular injury in his right shoulder. That’s a big blow to the Brewers’ playoff hopes.
- Cincinnati: The youth-infused Reds, led by Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Matt McLain, made big strides in 2023.
- Pittsburgh: An encouraging ’23 season combined with a very good farm system has Pirates fans believing that their streak of losing seasons could end in 2024.
- St. Louis: Adam Wainwright announced that he will be joining the FOX Broadcast of the ALDS working as an analyst alongside former Cardinals and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
How About That!
This year’s MLB playoffs will be broadcast by seven North American outlets and on four streaming apps.
The addition of the pitch clock trimmed 24 minutes off of the average game time.
MLB announced that this season represented the league’s greatest attendance spike in 30 years.
The production this year from Dodgers stars Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts could be the inspiration behind any attempt by the Cubs to trade for Alonso and extend Bellinger. I’d rather have the Los Angeles pair, or Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani.
Then again, the Mets could be interested in Soto and Ohtani.
Ángel Hernández finished the season as baseball’s worst umpire. Nothing shocking there.
Canario could be the bait used to acquire Alonso, Soto, or any left-handed power bat.
Canario's first career triple scores Candelario! pic.twitter.com/5xwI89BYCz
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 1, 2023
They Said It
- “When it comes to the expectations and standards in this organization, I didn’t really think that that’s good enough. I will take [the] progress — I’m not blind to that — and I can appreciate that we’re heading in the right direction. But I really, really enjoyed this group and wanted to push this as far as we could.” – Nico Hoerner
- “I don’t think that we want to start calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons. That’s a consolation prize and we don’t play for consolation prizes. That said, there were some great moments, some great performances, a lot of excitement.” – Tom Ricketts
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Another year without postseason baseball in Chicago? Pass me the bourbon bottle.