Carlos Beltran will finally get his chance to play for a championship

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After 199 post-season plate appearances, he is finally there. Carlos Beltran will play in the World Series for the first time. The 36-year-old had been to the National League Championship Series three times before and three times played in a Game 7, only to go home unsatisfied. Had the Cardinals not finished the job tonight in Game 6 against the Dodgers, he might never have gotten the opportunity.

It’s a well-deserved opportunity for Beltran, whose post-season production is the stuff of legend. He entered tonight’s game hitting .327/.443/.717 in 194 trips to the dish in post-season play – numbers reminiscent of Barry Bonds. He went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI singles against the Dodgers tonight. He even added an inning-ending diving catch in the gap in right-center in the fifth to take a hit away from Juan Uribe, just for good measure.

Beltran is, in the eyes of many, already a Hall of Famer. He has accumulated over 67 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference, which puts him slightly below Reggie Jackson (74.0), as an example. Others believe him to be on the cusp, and some of them would have held his lack of World Series play against him. He will get the chance to pad his credentials next Wednesday, when the World Series starts in the city of the winner of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Tigers.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.