The Pirates and Reds have clinched playoff spots

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The field of teams for the playoffs in the National League is now in place.

The Pirates beat the Cubs 2-1 tonight in Chicago while the Reds topped the Mets 3-2 in 10 innings in Cincinnati. Combine that with the Nationals’ loss to the Cardinals tonight and that means that the Pirates and Reds have both clinched playoff spots.

Kudos to the Pirates and their long-suffering fans, as this is the franchise’s first postseason berth since way back in 1992. Meanwhile, the Reds are back in the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.

While the Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds are all in, the National League Central is still up for grabs. The first-place Cardinals currently hold a two-game lead over the Pirates and Reds with five left to play. Whoever finishes second and third will meet in the Wild Card game one week from tomorrow.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.