Toronto Blue Jays (Happ 20-4, 3.18) vs. Cleveland Indians (Tomlin 13-9, 4.40)
Game 2, Cleveland lead series 1-0
4pm ET Saturday on TBS
Pitcher’s duels have been hard to come by this postseason, but Marco Estrada and Corey Kluber delivered last night, with Cleveland coming out on top 2-0, thanks to a 2-run homer in the 6th from Francisco Lindor, and 6 ⅓ shutout innings from Kluber, who is now 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 13 ⅓ innings in these playoffs.
Trying to dig the Jays out of a 1-0 hole tonight will be J.A. Happ, who played with fire in his start against the Rangers in the A.L.D.S. Happ put on at least two baserunners in all but the last of his 5 innings, somehow limiting the damage to just 1 run before giving way to five relievers who secured the 5-3 win in Game 2. That was eight days ago, and Happ’s career ERA has been about a half-run better when pitching on extra rest. Happ had one of his best starts of the year against the Indians, fanning 11 over 7 innings, while giving up just 1 run on 5 hits in a 17-1 victory, and for his career he’s held these current Jays to a .507 OPS, so the stars are lined up well for Toronto on that front.
For the Indians it’ll be Josh Tomlin, who threw 5 innings of 2-run ball to get the win in the series clincher against the Red Sox in the Divisional round. The start comes as surprise, as Trevor Bauer had been slated to go tonight, but Bauer got a cut on his right pinkie finger while trying to fix his drone. Yes, his drone. The sudden change in plans shouldn’t be a problem for Tomlin who will be pitching on his normal four days of rest. Tomlin was 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in 10 ⅓ innings against Toronto this year, though he managed to strike out 13.
Los Angeles Dodgers (Maeda 16-11, 3.48) vs. Chicago Cubs (Lester 19-5, 2.44)
Series tied 0-0
8pm ET Saturday on FS1
The Cubs have seemed all season long like a team of destiny, but if there’s a team in the N.L. well suited to derailing that dream, it’s the Dodgers, whose rotation features two of the league’s very best starters, and a small crop of dynamic hitters that can turn a game around. But the Dodgers are in rough shape, having just trotted out Clayton Kershaw in relief to clinch their Divisional Series against the Nationals, and Rich Hill has been well short of awesome.
The Dodgers will hand the ball to Kenta Maeda tonight, but Maeda’s had struggle of his own this postseason. In his lone start against the Nats, Maeda gave up 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in just 3 innings of work. Maeda had trouble down the stretch this season, finishing up by going a total of 6 ⅔ innings in his final two starts while giving up 8 runs.
“I don’t think it’s a nerves issue. I think that he’s very familiar with the Cubs. As far as the scouting, he’ll be prepared,” Manager Dave Roberts told the press, a curious claim given that Maeda hasn’t yet faced the Cubs.
And Maeda will be going up against one of the game’s most successful and experienced playoff pitchers, Jon Lester, who is coming off a dominant performance against the Giants in Game 1 of the N.L.D.S. Lester held the Giants scoreless over 8 innings, giving up just 5 hits in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel with Johnny Cueto, in the process lowering his career playoff ERA to 2.63 in 106 innings. And Lester has shut down the current crop of Dodgers hitters, who have just 17 hits in 123 career at-bats against Lester, for a slash line of .138/.185/.179, including two starts this year, when he held the Dodgers to 1 run on 7 hits and 2 walks over 15 innings, while fanning 16. Lester is perhaps the last guy the Dodgers want to be seeing tonight.