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Playoff Reset: Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 4

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The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Dodgers NLCS Game 4
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: John Lackey (Cubs) vs. Julio Urias (Dodgers)

The Upshot:

As I said earlier this morning, randomness and execution of baseball activities is how series are decided, not Fundamental Forces of the Universe. But it is weighted randomness, so it’s probably worth dropping our nihilism for a few minutes and actually talk about the pitchers here.

Julio Urias is going for the Dodgers. As soon as he tosses his first pitch Urias — who turned 20 in August — will become the youngest pitcher to ever start a playoff game. I was somewhat surprised by that, as clubs used to sign, like, grade schoolers during the World Wars. I was pretty sure an actual zygote started Game 3 for the New York Giants in the 1917 World Series, after which he was paid in Liberty Cabbage. Guess not!

Urias has grown up pretty fast this year. He faced the Cubs back on June 2 in only his second big league start. He didn’t do so hot that day, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits in five innings. He faced Chicago again, this time at home, on August 27. That day he won the game, allowing one run while striking out eight and scattering six hits over six innings.

The Cubs are going with someone a bit more venerable: the 37-year-old John Lackey. As we noted during the division series, Lackey has more playoff experience than any active pitcher. He’s 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 playoff appearances. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers this year.

The calculus for each team here is pretty simple. For the Dodgers it’s all about getting enough innings out of Urias so that the bullpen isn’t overworked both tonight and for the remainder of the series. For the Cubs: figure out how to hit the ball again, which they haven’t been doing all the past couple of games. Maybe that’s due to fate and destiny and some sort of magic. I’m inclined to believe, however, that it’s a function of Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill being really good pitchers. Tonight we’ll see what Urias has got.

Video reviews overturn 42% rate; Boston most successful

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NEW YORK (AP) Video reviews overturned 42.4% of calls checked during Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season, down slightly from 44% in 2019.

Boston was the most successful team, gaining overturned calls on 10 of 13 challenges for 76.9%. The Chicago White Sox were second, successful on eight of 11 challenges for 72.7%, followed by Kansas City at seven of 10 (70%).

Pittsburgh was the least successful at 2 of 11 (18.2%), and Toronto was 7 of 25 (28%).

Minnesota had the most challenges with 28 and was successful on nine (32.1%). The New York Yankees and Milwaukee tied for the fewest with nine each; the Yankees were successful on five (55.6%) and the Brewers three (33.3%).

MLB said Tuesday there were 468 manager challenges and 58 crew chief reviews among 526 total reviews during 898 games. The average time of a review was 1 minute, 25 seconds, up from 1:16 the previous season, when there 1,186 manager challenges and 170 crew chief reviews among 1,356 reviews during 2,429 games.

This year’s replays had 104 calls confirmed (19.8%), 181 that stood (34.4%) and 223 overturned. An additional 12 calls (2.3%) were for rules checks and six (1.1%) for recording keeping.

In 2019 there were 277 calls confirmed (12.5%), 463 that stood (34.1%) and 597 overturned. An additional nine calls (0.7%) were for rules checks and 10 (0.7%) for record keeping.

Expanded video review started in 2014.