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Braves will start Dallas Keuchel on short rest

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The Braves will try to clinch the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals starting at 3 PM Eastern this afternoon. They’ll do it with a pitcher going on three-days’ rest: Game 1 starter Dallas Keuchel.

There are likely a couple of reasons behind the move. One reason is that the original, sketched-in-pencil plan for Game 4 was to, possibly at least, have Max Fried start. Fried was used in relief in all three games of the series so far, however. He was lights out in the first two appearances in that role and the Braves probably want to keep up with that for the time being.

Another reason is the composition of the Braves current staff. A Game 1 injury to reliever Chris Martin led the team to put Julio Teherán on the roster. Teherán is not an ideal relief candidate — he hasn’t fared well in opening innings in many of his starts — but the Braves likely think he could be useful in long relief, and will likely piggyback him with Keuchel if Keuchel proves ineffective early today.

Finally, Keuchel only threw 4.1 innings in Game 1 on Thursday, tossing only 74 pitches, so it’s not like he’s super spent. It’s a gamble to start any guy on short rest, but it’s hard to see how using Keuchel is less of a gamble that either starting Teheran or by pressing Fried into service for the fourth straight game.

Guess we’ll see if the gamble pays off this afternoon.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.