The only cure for a day without baseball is MOAR BASEBALL. And while we had a rainout on Tuesday—and some, uh, accompanying weirdness—it’ll be fun to see who emerges from the AL elimination game and if the Nationals can live to play another day. Check ’em out!
RHP Stephen Strasburg (WAS) versus RHP Jake Arrieta (CHC) — 4:08 p.m. ET, TBS
What in the hell? First it was going to be Tanner Roark. Then the rains came. And then Joe Maddon said it didn’t matter who the Cubs would face, under the likely pretense that Dusty Baker would flip the script and start Stras on his regular rest. Then Dusty dropped the bombshell that Roark would start, with some chatter about how Strasburg had thrown his bullpen earlier in the day and was feeling under the weather because of mold or air conditioning or some such business.
Now Wednesday morning, Strasburg has emerged from the tomb with the power of enhanced antibiotics and intravenous fluids. If it all seems a. avoidable and b. convoluted, it’s probably because it is. If it looks and quacks like a duck, well….
So anyway, Strasburg will look to keep the Nationals alive in the series after a tough-luck loss on Oct. 6 in Game 1. Strasburg held the Cubs at bay for seven innings of two-run ball—both unearned—but the offense supported him with zero runs in a shutout loss.
Strasburg was terrific this season. Though, like usual, left some innings on the field with 175.1 frames at an ERA of 2.52. But at even 75 percent, he’s probably a better bet than Roark, right? Roark had a 4.67 ERA this season. This storyline isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It wouldn’t be shocking if someone is fired for this.
As we noted prior to Tuesday’s rainout, Arrieta is making his first start—in Game 4 of the postseason. Here’s what we had beforehand:
As has been the case in the postseason, the bullpens may decide this one. Arrieta was fine this season, but certainly not the Arrieta of yore, and he’s dealing with a strained hamstring that has bothered him for a few weeks and relegated (?) him to making a Game 4 start when he’s typically Game 1 or 2 material.
Then again, Max Scherzer shoved on Sunday before his bullpen gave it up. And we say that in the nicest way possible. So who knows how Arrieta will be affected by this issue? Arrieta’s home run rate soared this year while his strikeout rate remained under 9.0 per nine for the second year in a row, and he saw jumps in WHIP and his per nine for the second year in a row. It may also be his final start with the Cubs, as he’s slated for free agency this offseason. There is no shortage of storylines in this one.
LHP C.C. Sabathia (NYY) versus RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) — 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1
For all the drama in the other game, this is what the playoffs are all about. Sabathia can pitch his Yankees into the ALCS with a win in his old digs in a pivotal win-or-go-home game for each team. On the other side is Kluber, who may very well win the AL Cy Young but was obliterated by the Yankees in Game 1 of the series—a game Cleveland still won, 9-8.
Kluber didn’t get out of the third inning against the Yankees, allowing six earned runs—including a pair of home runs—in Game 2, and will have to be at his best to avoid letting the Indians be the next “don’t let this distract you from the fact that (team x) blew a lead in the playoffs” meme. A motivated Klubot is a dangerous Klubot. And while Sabathia isn’t an apt head-to-head matchup, the Yankees bullpen might be.
Both teams might get creative in this one.
Sabathia also started Game 2, going 5.1 innings with four runs (two earned) before turning it over to a surprisingly leaky bullpen. The hook on Sabathia will likely be very, very quick in this one, which is why it’ll be of the utmost interest how Girardi manages his bullpen and what their effectiveness levels will be. Girardi may also be managing to keep his job, as strange as that seems.
This should be a terrific night for baseball.