Looking ahead to a full day of Division Series action


This is the day, folks.

The day many of us consider the best day of playoff baseball. The first day — and only Friday — in which all eight remaining playoff teams will be in action.  Monday is poised to have four games as well, but (a) that’s only a potential thing because if the Brewers or Dodgers sweep, their series will be done; and (b) it’s a Monday for crying out loud. If you call in sick to watch four games that day you’ll still be watching the clock and worrying about being ready for work the next day.

Today, in contrast, you can tell the boss you have a massive head cold, turn the TV on at 2PM when the Indians and Astros get going and leave it on until after midnight, when the Braves and Dodgers wrap up. Just remember to hydrate and to get up and take a brief walk during commercials and pitching changes so you don’t get leg cramps or something. Bananas help too. Potassium is your friend. That goes for a real head cold or a postseason baseball-inspired fake one, by the way.

Your viewing guide:

ALDS Game 1

Indians vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 2:05PM Eastern
Pitchers: Corey Kluber vs. Justin Verlander

This is easily the best starting pitching matchup of the day and, really, in the entire postseason so far. There are three Cy Young Awards between these two, six non-winning top five finishes and both of these guys will, once again, be near the top of the Cy Young balloting this year. Kluber and Verlander have combined for 16 200-inning and 13 200-strikeout seasons. They have ten combined All-Star Game appearances. Verlander was an MVP and won the Rookie of the Year Award. When the story of American League pitching of this era is told, these two are going to take up much if not most of the ink.

Bullpen days and openers are fun on some level, but the biggest reason teams do that is because they don’t have starters like Kluber and Verlander at their disposal. Seeing both of them match up in this afternoon’s first game is gonna be a treat.

NLDS Game 2

Rockies vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 4:15PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports 1
PitchersTyler Anderson vs Jhoulys Chacin

Yesterday’s walkoff win for the Brewers was pretty sweet, but it certainly came at a cost. That cost: ten innings of work from relief pitchers the day before they’re starting Jhoulys Chacin on short rest. Playoff adrenaline and the prospect of heading to Colorado with a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series is likely to give Chacin a boost, of course. Meanwhile, Tyler Anderson hasn’t started since Sunday, putting him on his regular schedule. As it is, he’s been sharp as a tack of late, posting a 1.83 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 15/5 K/BB ration in his last three starts, covering 19 and two-thirds innings.

Runs were at a premium yesterday. My gut tells me that today will see a lot more crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

ALDS Game 1

Yankees vs. Red Sox
Ballpark: Fenway Park
Time: 7:32PM Eastern
Pitchers: J.A. Happ vs. Chris Sale

As you’ll hear 500 times today — and, yeah, I’m posting an article about it later today as well — this will be the first playoff meeting between the Yankees and the Red Sox in 14 years. Brace yourself for many, many replays of Dave Roberts stealing second and Aaron Boone going yard. If TBS manages to get past the nostalgia trip — no safe bet in today’s baseball broadcasting landscape — they’ll realize that this is a fantastic matchup between two outstanding teams filled with young talent that was in grade school the last time these clubs met in the playoffs.

As for the present: while the Red Sox won eight more games than the Yankees this year, they were basically even-up head-to-head, with Boston taking the season series 10-9. They’ve been even over the past three years, in fact, with Boston leading the Yankees 29-28 over that span. They always play each other tough, no matter their respective records.

Chris Sale gets the call for Boston. He has thrown just 17 innings and has not pitched into the sixth inning of a game since the end of July due to a shoulder inflammation. He’s been building his strength back up, however, tossed a bullpen session on Tuesday, is on eight days’ rest since his last outing and Alex Cora said that there are no limitations on him. Worth noting that his velocity was not great in that outing. If he’s not on top of his game tonight the Yankees’ punishing lineup is going to let us all know about it really quickly.

His counterpart, J.A. Happ, has a 2.69 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 63.2 innings since joining the Yankees and, between New York and Toronto, has allowed only five earned runs — but six unearned runs — against the Red Sox in four starts this year. His past success against Boston is part of the reason New York picked him up. So, no, it’s not just the networks which have their mind on history.

NLDS Game 2

Braves vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 9:37PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports 1
PitchersAnibal Sanchez vs. Clayton Kershaw

The Braves got punched in the nose early last night, never punched back and now they gotta face Clayton Kershaw on an extra day’s rest, which has benefitted him greatly this season. Welcome to the playoffs, upstarts. Facing off against Kershaw is Anibal Sanchez. It’s fair to say that not many people expected Sanchez to be pitching in the playoffs in 2018, but he’s been pretty darn good of late, having given up two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. He’ll have to be on point tonight. As the Dodgers showed with their eight walks and three dingers last night, theirs is a patient and powerful lineup.

It’s wake-up time for Atlanta, or else the playoffs are going to be virtually over for them on the first day they really get going in earnest.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images

On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: