Looking ahead to NLCS Game 2: Dodgers-Cardinals

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The Dodgers and Cardinals will have little time to recover from their extra-inning marathon last night, as the two teams will meet in Game 2 of the NLCS this afternoon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The game will start at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on TBS.

Here’s a quick look at the pitching matchup and some random notes:

After dropping Game 1, the Dodgers will turn to their ace Clayton Kershaw to even up the series. The National League Cy Young Award favorite had a 0.69 ERA and 18/4 K/BB ratio in 13 innings over two starts during the NLDS against the Braves. He pitched on three days’ rest for the first time in his career in Game 4 on Monday, but he’ll be going on regular rest in this one.

Michael Wacha will get the ball for the Cardinals after he flirted with a no-hitter in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Pirates on Monday. The rookie right-hander ended up giving up one run on one hit over 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine batters and walking a pair. He held the Nationals hitless for 8 2/3 innings during his final regular season start on September 24, so the Dodgers will hope to buck that trend. This will be their first look at Wacha.

With the quick turnaround, it will be interesting to see whether Andre Ethier is back in the lineup for Game 2 or if Don Mattingly decides to go with Skip Schumaker in center field. Coming off a left ankle injury, Ethier wasn’t moving around great last night and was eventually replaced Scott Van Slyke in the 13th inning. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes that Ethier was limping out of the visiting clubhouse after the game and had his ankle taped.

Trevor Rosenthal threw 33 pitches over two innings in Game 1 last night, so Cardinals manager Mike Matheny might have to go in another direction for a possible save opportunity this afternoon. With Kershaw and Wacha on the mound, it looks like we could see another low-scoring nail-biter.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.