Major League Baseball is lying about Jay-Z

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OK, this is really, really, petty in the grand scheme of things, but since Bud Selig hates it when teams announce actual news while the World Series is happening, this will have to tide us over. If you want, you can skip to the bottom to get my World Series prediction.

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were originally slated to perform before tonight’s game.  That has now been pushed back to Game 2 because, according to Major League Baseball, “Staging for the performance could adversely impact the field if it is wet, creating damaged and unsafe playing conditions.” Best to move it to the certain-to-be dry Game 2.

Except there’s another, more compelling reason for Jay-Z to cancel: he’s supposed to be in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio tonight:

Rapper Jay-Z is scheduled to perform with Alicia Keys before Game 1 of the World Series in New York on Wednesday night but is also scheduled to perform at the same time at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Jay-Z’s web site said that he will perform, as scheduled, at the World Series.  The first pitch between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. According to the staff at the Schottenstein Center, Jay-Z is going to perform in Columbus and is skipping the World Series.

My guess:  someone here in Columbus told Jay-Z’s people that they’d sue him for breach of contract if he didn’t show up for tonight’s show and he begged Major League Baseball to let him move his Alicia Keys thing to Game 2.  Whether it was Jay-Z or baseball who, in the first instance, thought that the good people of Columbus would stand idly by while he dissed us for New York is unclear, but as always, the wholesome Midwest triumphs over the forces of east coast decadance and evil.

OK, to make up for that decidedly non-baseball story, I’ll give you my World Series prediction.  Matt has a full writeup here, so I’ll make mine short: Yankees in six. The Phillies are heavily lefty. The Yankees can throw lefties in five of seven games, and they have a bullpen that is particularly tough on lefties as well.  Cliff Lee will be Cliff Lee, but the Phillies rotation will otherwise be no match for the Yankees bats. In fact, if it weren’t for Joe Girardi I’d say it would be the Yankees in five, but I figure old number 27 will over-manage a game away.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to my predictions so far this postseason, you’ll realize that this pick all but guarantees a Phillies victory.  But maybe I know that you know that, and I’m changing things up to mess with you?  Ever thought of that?

No, seriously, the Phillies don’t stand a chance.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.