Cookie Monster, Wily Mo Pena, and J.D. Drew

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One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Sesame Street, “One of These Things”
A recent Sports Illustrated poll asked 380 major leaguers to name the player who “gets the least out of the most talent” and the results are pretty interesting:
1. Wily Mo Pena
2. Daniel Cabrera
3. Elijah Dukes
4. J.D. Drew
5. Mike MacDougal
Perhaps not surprisingly four of those five guys last played for the Nationals, with Dukes and MacDougal still on the team, and the only non-Nationals player on the list looks like the answer to one of those “which of these things is least like the other four?” test questions.
Pena is a career .257/.303/.443 hitter and at 26 years old is a free agent after being let go by three teams in two seasons. Cabrera owns a 46-64 record and 5.09 ERA in 881 innings and is currently pitching at Triple-A after being cut by the Nationals. Dukes is a former top prospect with off-field issues who’s hit .234/.337/.423 through 208 games in the majors. MacDougal is currently the Nationals’ closer and is in one of his “effectively wild” stages after being a mess in four seasons with the White Sox.
And then there’s Drew, who somehow gets lumped in with that foursome despite being an All-Star last year, finishing sixth in the MVP balloting in 2004, posting the 25th-best OPS among active hitters, and playing 1,316 games over 12 seasons in the majors. Drew has missed lots of time with injuries, rubs some people the wrong way with his laid-back demeanor and patient approach to hitting, and hasn’t become the superstar that many people expected when he was a top-five pick in back-to-back drafts.
However, at the end of the day he’s a .282 career hitter with a .391 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage who figures to end up with around 1,800 hits, 275 homers, and $100 million in earnings. To call Drew a disappointment is one thing, but equating him to complete busts like Pena and Cabrera while suggesting that a 12-year veteran with a .900 OPS “gets the least out of the most talent” is all kinds of silly. Drew has more career value than Pena, Cabrera, Dukes, and MacDougal combined, and it isn’t particularly close.

NLDS, Game 1: Cubs vs. Cardinals lineups

Jon Lester
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Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester

Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.

3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey

Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.

Steven Matz is on the Mets’ playoff roster, set for Game 4 start

New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) works during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.

Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.

Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.

ALDS, Game 2: Astros vs. Royals lineups

Johnny Cueto Royals
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Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:

2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick

SP Scott Kazmir

Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.

SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios

SP Johnny Cueto

Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.