After the Blue Jays and Royals played Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, all four teams will be in action on Saturday. Game 2 of the ALCS will take place later this afternoon before the Cubs and Mets meet tonight at Citi Field. Get ready for an awesome day of playoff baseball.
The Game: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Kauffman Stadium
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: David Price vs. Yordano Ventura
The Upshot: After being shut out by the Royals in Game 1, the Blue Jays will send David Price to the hill in an attempt to even things up. Price led the American League with a 2.45 ERA during the regular season and was awesome after joining Toronto at the trade deadline, but he gave up eight runs in 10 innings over one start and one relief appearance during the ALDS against the Rangers. He’s now 0-6 as a starter during the postseason. That narrative is getting some attention right now, but it’s just a matter of time before the real David Price shows up. The Royals will have to hope that time isn’t now.
After a strong second half, Ventura made a pair of starts during the ALDS against the Astros (including one shortened by rain) and allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks over eight innings. The Royals will hope for something better this time around. There was some bad blood between Ventura and Jose Bautista earlier this summer, but the best way to settle the score would be to go up 2-0 in the series headed to Toronto.
There are some injury questions for the Blue Jays coming out of Game 1, as Edwin Encarnacion was forced to exit with a ligament sprain in his left middle finger. X-rays came back negative and the hope is that he’ll be ready to go this afternoon. If he can’t, Justin Smoak will likely play first base and Chris Colabello will serve as the DH. Troy Tulowitzki, who suffered a small crack in his shoulder blade in September, is also playing at less than 100 percent. It’s showing with his production, as he’s just 2-for-25 (.080) with nine strikeouts this postseason.
The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. Matt Harvey
The Upshot: Either the Cubs or the Mets will represent the National League in the World Series. I wrote that because it’s still weird to see this in print. This series is going to be a ton of fun, highlighted by the matchup of the Mets’ excellent young pitching battling against the Cubs’ excellent young hitters. Power vs. power. While the Cubs faced tougher competition in the NL Central, these two teams were very evenly matched in nearly every major statistical category during the season. Throw in two rabid fanbases, the long wait for the Cubbies, and the renovated Wrigley Field on the big stage of the postseason, and the stage is set for a fantastic series.
The Cubs went 7-0 against the Mets during the regular season, but that’s irrelevant for a number of reasons. Keep in mind that these two teams haven’t seen each other since July 2. And the Mets played those games without Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, David Wright, Kelly Johnson, Addison Reed, and Tyler Clippard. Obviously they are a very different team than the one the Cubs dominated during the regular season. The Cubs also have a slightly different look, as they didn’t have Kyle Schwarber for those games and there have been some new additions to the bullpen. The big difference between then and now is that it’s the playoffs and who the heck knows what will happen in a small sample.
For Game One, we’ll see postseason veteran Lester going up against Harvey in New York. After posting a 3.34 ERA over 32 starts during the regular season, Lester allowed three runs and worked into the eighth inning in a Game One loss during the NLDS against the Cardinals. For all the drama over Harvey’s inning limit situation, here he is in line to make two starts during the NLCS. He wasn’t all that sharp in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, allowing three runs (two earned) over five innings. Obviously both pitchers are capable of excellence. Lester has had his issues throwing to bases, but the Mets were last in the NL in steals during the regular season and aren’t well-equipped to take advantage.
With Lester on the hill for Chicago, Mets manager Terry Collins will likely go with Juan Lagares in center field, Yoenis Cespedes in left and Conforto on the bench. It will be interesting to see if the struggling Lucas Duda is benched in favor of Michael Cuddyer. Cubs manager Joe Maddon is unpredictable, but he could either go with Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan in right field. Javier Baez is locked in as the starting shortstop with Addison Russell sidelined due to a hamstring injury.