Playoff Reset: The NL takes center stage today

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After we saw some thrilling action yesterday with all four playoff series, the National League takes center stage today. The Cardinals and Giants are aiming to head home with 2-0 series leads. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Nationals will be looking to rebound after tough Game 1 losses.

As for the teams in the ALDS, they are traveling today and will resume Sunday. The Tigers and Angels are both on the brink of elimination while the Orioles and Royals are one win away from a trip to the ALCS.

The Game: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, National League Division Series Game 2
The Time: 5:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Tim Hudson vs. Jordan Zimmermann
The Upshot: The Nationals came into Game 1 as the trendy favorite to win the World Series, but they are now NLDS underdogs. Statistically speaking, at least. Having Jordan Zimmermann on the mound should ease the impulse to panic, though. He had a 2.66 ERA during the regular season and oh yeah, he threw the first no-hitter in team history in his most recent start last Sunday. As for Hudson, he didn’t exactly finish the season on a high note, posting an 8.72 ERA over five starts in September. It’s funny to think about it this way, but the Giants have won an NL-record nine straight postseason games dating back to 2012. If they can push it to 10 today, the Nationals are in some serious trouble.

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, National League Division Series Game 2
The Time: 9:37 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Lance Lynn vs. Zack Greinke
The Upshot: After the Cardinals staged a stunning comeback against Clayton Kershaw yesterday, the pressure is really on the Dodgers now. It helps to have another ace up your sleeve and Zack Greinke is exactly that. He has a 2.68 ERA in 60 regular season starts since joining the Dodgers and pitched well during the team’s playoff run last season. Lance Lynn is no slouch either and continues to be overlooked despite putting up some impressive numbers. He posted a career-best 2.74 ERA over 33 starts during the regular season. The phrase “must win” gets thrown around a lot in sports and often incorrectly, so I don’t want to go that far, but it’s very important for the Dodgers win this game and draw even in the series. It would be bad enough to be down 2-0 headed back to St. Louis, but Hyun-Jin Ryu is lined up to start Game 3. He hasn’t pitched in a game since September 12.

Anthony Rendon explains why he didn’t go to the White House

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Today the Angels introduced their newest big star, Anthony Rendon, who just signed a seven-year, $245 million contract to play in Orange County.

And it is Orange County, not Los Angeles, Rendon stressed at the press conference. When asked about the Dodgers, who had also been reported to be courting him, Rendon said he preferred the Angels because, “the Hollywood lifestyle . . . didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family.”

What “the Hollywood Lifestyle” means in that context could mean a lot of things I suppose. It could be about the greater media scrutiny Dodgers players are under compared to Angels players. It could mean that he’d simply prefer to live in Newport Beach than, I dunno, wherever Dodgers players live. Pasadena? Pasadena is more convenient to Dodger Stadium than the beach. Who knows. They never did let Yasiel Puig get that helicopter he wanted, so traffic could’ve been a consideration.

But maybe it’s a subtle allusion to political/cultural stuff. Orange County has trended to the left in some recent elections but it is, historically speaking, a conservative stronghold in Southern California. And, based on something else he said in his press conference, Rendon seems to be pretty conscious of geographical/political matters:

A shoutout to the notion of Texas being Trump country and an askance glance at “the Hollywood Lifestyle” of Los Angeles all in the same press conference. That’s a lot of culture war ground covered in one press conference. So much so that I can’t decide if I should warn Rendon that both Texas and Orange County are trending leftward or if I should tell him to stick to sports.