It’s going to be wall-to-wall baseball over the next two days, folks. That’s because both sides of the LCS matchups will be going with Los Angeles looking to go up 3-0 at Wrigley Field, while the New York Yankees are at home and looking to even the series at two games apiece. It should be lit, fam.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) versus RHP Sonny Gray (NYY) — 5:08 p.m. ET, FS1
McCullers‘ season was a bit tumultuous, to say the least. He was able to make only 22 starts with a 4.25 ERA. The stuff was still plenty good—132 strikeouts in 118.2 innings. But, that won’t temper enthusiasm for the idea that he might be a reliever in the long-term. Some of that worry was tied up in his pitch mix. Yet still, it has to be noted that he’s thrown 125.2, 81 and 118.2 innings in his three MLB seasons. The longer he fails to hit, say, 180….the more likely that his long-term future isn’t in the rotation.
Nevertheless, in a postseason situation where he’s likely to be a five-and-dive or even less, this is a good spot. McCullers worked three innings in mop-up duty in the ALDS—this is his first postseason start of the year—and fanned four batters with two walks and two earned runs in a 10-3 loss to the Red Sox.
It’s not the perfect guy to stem the tide of the rallying Yankees, of course. But it’s the best the Astros have got for now. Until Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander can return, of course.
Gray is making his first start of the ALCS. He is also coming off a particularly rough outing in a 4-0 loss in the ALDS back on Oct. 5. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking—this is on like 12 days of rest. That seems a little odd to us as well. So, this is going to be a matchup of two complete wildcards. That probably favors the Yankees—bullpen superiority, after all—but not only because of who is backing up Gray, but because he’s been a bit more stable as well. He threw 162.1 solid innings this season, posting a 3.55 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning.
We’re probably in for a 2-1 game played in like three hours—which is 2:30 in regular-season time.
RHP Yu Darvish (LAD) versus RHP Kyle Hendricks (CHC) — 9:00 p.m. ET, TBS
The good Darvish showed up in his start against the Diamondbacks in the 3-0 NLDS sweep. He tossed five innings of one-run ball, striking out seven while walking none and allowing just two hits. On the whole, he was good for the Dodgers after the trade—3.44 ERA in nine starts—but he still can have an ugly blip on the radar here and there.
This would be the kind of spot where those crop up, sort of like in a sports videogame that doesn’t let a player get too far ahead before the other side jumps back into things. It almost felt like that force was at play in the Yankees-Astros game on Tuesday night, so we’ll see if it happens in this one. That’s not to suggest something nefarious, but rather, when you get to this point in the season, these teams are just that good.
It’s really hard to knock them out in three or four straight.
Hendricks was absolutely brutal in Game 5 against the Nationals. But, he still managed to get out with four earned runs in four innings as the Cubs won a thriller, 9-8. It was night-and-day from his first start in the series—seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball—as Hendricks had no command of his Reagan-era fastball, allowing two home runs and skating by in somehow not allowing more damage.
He doesn’t have the velocity to work up in the zone like that when he misses spots, though. And right now, it doesn’t appear he has the bullpen to back him if he can’t go at least semi-deep into the game. Make no mistake, the Cubs are not in a good spot right now.