Here are the lineups for tonight’s Wild Card Game between the A’s and Royals, in Kansas City:
CF Coco Crisp
LF Sam Fuld
3B Josh Donaldson
DH Brandon Moss
RF Josh Reddick
SS Jed Lowrie
1B Stephen Vogt
C Geovany Soto
2B Eric Sogard
SP Jon Lester
Adam Dunn, who served as the A’s primary designated hitter down the stretch, is out of the lineup against a right-handed pitcher. Dunn posted a .783 OPS versus righties this season, with 20 homers in 370 at-bats. His absence opens up the DH spot for Brandon Moss, except he’s struggled throughout the second half while playing through a major hip injury.
Another surprise is Derek Norris being on the bench and Geovany Soto catching Jon Lester, which he’s never done before. Kansas City runs a lot and Norris has struggled throwing people out, but it’s still unexpected. A’s manager Bob Melvin is going defense-heavy in this game, with Soto and Sam Fuld.
SS Alcides Escobar
RF Norichika Aoki
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Mike Moustakas
SP James Shields
Standard lineup for the Royals, who used the same nine players and the same batting order in each of the final eight games. Josh Willingham, acquired from the Twins in August to hit left-handed pitching, is on the bench versus a lefty. Eric Hosmer has a sub-.700 OPS off lefties and is batting cleanup.
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the Tigers may leave outfielder Rajai Davis off the playoff roster for the ALDS against the Orioles because of a groin injury suffered Saturday.
Davis isn’t a big name, but he stepped in as the primary center fielder when the Tigers traded Austin Jackson to the Mariners in the three-team swap that netted them David Price from the Rays.
He’s not a great defensive center fielder, but Davis is one of the fastest players in baseball and hit pretty well this season with a .282 batting average and .721 OPS in 134 games. Don Kelly and Ezequiel Carrera are the other center field options, so the Tigers would really like Davis to get healthy.
Craig Calcaterra wrote a preview of tonight’s American League Wild Card playoff game, which you should definitely go read, but I was curious about where the game stands from an odds-making perspective.
Kansas City opened as a slight favorite, which isn’t surprising considering they’re hosting the game, but as money rolled in on Oakland the line shifted to make the game basically a coin-flip with even odds.
Right now most sportsbooks–online and in Las Vegas–have the A’s as a -105 or -110 favorite, which means you’d have to bet $105 or $110 to win $100. In other words: There is no favorite tonight.
Also of note: Tonight’s over/under is 6.5 runs. Not surprising, with Jon Lester and James Shields on the mound, and given the drop in offense across baseball this season my guess is we won’t see many over/under lines above 8.5 runs all postseason.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced the team’s rotation for the ALDS.
Max Scherzer will start Game 1 against the Orioles, followed by Justin Verlander in Game 2, David Price in Game 3, and Rick Porcello in Game 4. Anibal Sanchez, who hasn’t had enough time to build back his arm strength after a disabled list stint, will spend the series in the bullpen as a potential late-inning bullpen option.
Price pitched the regular season finale Sunday, shutting out the Twins for 7.1 innings as the Tigers clinched the AL Central title. Game 2 of the ALDS is Friday, so Price could have started on his normal rest.
Ausmus is going with Verlander instead despite the former MVP’s ugly 4.54 ERA and league-high 104 earned runs allowed this season. Verlander did finish on a high note, allowing just two total runs in 15.1 innings against the Royals and White Sox, but Price has been vastly superior all season. Of course, if the Tigers stick to a four-man rotation only Scherzer could be starting two games during the ALDS anyway.
Here’s how much starting pitching depth the Nationals have: Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that they’re likely to use Tanner Roark out of the bullpen in the playoffs and there’s really no strong reason to argue against it.
Roark was fantastic this season, posting a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts with a 138/39 K/BB ratio in 199 innings. And he was even better as a rookie last season, giving him a combined 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.
For a lot of teams that’s a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the playoffs, but the Nationals have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez.