HBT’s Division Series Preview Extravaganza

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In case you missed it yesterday, we ran our previews for all four division series. To wit:

ALDS: Tigers vs. Yankees
ALDS: Rays vs. Rangers
NLDS: Cardinals vs. Phillies
NLDS: Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

Also, if you’re not into the whole “reading” thing, Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan and I were on NBC SportsTalk last night and gave our breakdowns of each series, which you can see in the video clips below.  Before you watch ’em though, don’t give Sheehan any crap for his Cardinals thing: I’m pretty sure he thinks the Phillies will win that series. We were just trying to say, if the other team was going to win, how they might do it.

Normally I wouldn’t have to say that, but I’d hate to give Phillies fans a case of the vapors over someone appearing to disrespect their guys.

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Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.