MLB Playoffs on Sling: Nats Look to Even Series; Red Sox and Rangers Facing Elimination

Oct 09, 2016 by Sling Staff

Los Angeles Dodgers (Hill 12-5, 2.12) vs. Washington Nationals (Roark 16-10, 2.83), L.A. leads series 1-0
1pm ET Saturday on FS1

Stud rookie Corey Seager jacked a solo homer in the first inning of Friday’s game against the Nationals, staking Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers to a lead they would never surrender, with L.A. going on to win 4-3. It was just Kershaw’s third win in 10 career playoff starts, and except for the first inning, when he struck out the side, he was in and out of trouble most all night, lasting just 5 innings, and scattering 8 hits and a walk over 5 innings, and giving up 3 runs. It wasn’t vintage Kershaw, but for one night it was enough, as Nationals starter Max Scherzer had troubles of his own. In addition to Seager’s home run, Scherzer also served up a 2-run bomb to Justin Turner in the 4th that made the the score 4-0, putting the game out of reach. If the Nats can take any solace from last night’s game, it’s that the Dodgers went deep into their pen, using four relievers, including closer Kenley Jansen.

Only one thing since has stood between Rich Hill and world domination this year: blisters. Earlier this season, Hill proved that his renaissance last fall was no fluke, as he started the season going 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA, before getting sidelined with blisters. The Dodgers had been so ravaged by injuries that they traded for him while he was on the DL, and since joining the team he’s been even better, going posting a 1.83 ERA over 34 ⅓ innings. The Dodgers remain hypersensitive to the possibility of a recurrence of said blisters, however, going as far as pulling Hill on a September night when he’d pitched 7 perfect innings against the Marlins, and he hasn’t thrown more than 93 pitches in any of his starts with L.A. Hill has just one postseason start on his resume, back in 2007, while with the Cubs, he gave up 3 runs in just 3 innings against the DIamondbacks.

The Nationals tonight will turn to Tanner Roark to keep them out of an 0-2 hole before heading to Los Angeles. Roark enjoyed a bounceback year, following an injury riddled and ineffective 2015, staying healthy enough to pitch 210 innings this season and finish among the league leaders in wins, ERA, HR/9, and HBP (hey, whatever works…). Roark’s never before started a postseason game, though he made a pair of relief appearances in 2014, giving up 1 run in 2 ⅔ innings against the Giants in the NLDS. Roark took the loss in his lone start against the Dodgers this year, but pitched well, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits a walk over 7 ⅓.

Cleveland Indians (Tomlin 13-9, 4.40) vs. Boston Red Sox (Buchholz 8-10, 4.78), Cleveland leads series 2-0
4pm ET on TBS

It’s a good thing they’re heading up to Boston, because the Red Sox are in deep trouble. Already down 1-0 in their best-of-five series with the Indians, the Sox sent David Price to the mound on Friday, and he again failed to earn his first win as a starting pitcher in a playoff game, lasting just 3 and a third, and giving up 5 runs, including a 3-run homer by Lonnie Chisenhall in the 2nd. It’d be unfair to hang all of this one on Price, however, as the Indians ace Corey Kluber shutout the Sox for 7 innings, holding them to just 3 hits and 3 walks while fanning 7, and letting just one baserunner get as far as second base. He was painting the black on the outside all night, twice freezing Hanley Ramirez with called third strikes.

Josh Tomlin will be making his postseason debut with an eye toward wrapping up the series and advancing the Indians to the American League Championship Series. Tomlin got whacked in 3 consecutive starts at the end of August, giving up 18 runs in 10 ⅓ innings. Since getting banished to the pen for one relief stint, however, Tomlin’s been as good a ever, with a 1.75 ERA over 25 ⅔ innings. Those numbers come with the usual caveat that he benefitted from a .224 BABIP during that span, as well as having given up just one home run – it’s hard for anyone to maintain those numbers, let alone a #3 starter.

And with their season on the line, the Red Sox turn to Clay Buchholz of all people. Buchholz’s career has been a decade-long rollercoaster ride of tantalizing talent ad disastrous results. Just this season, he pitched poorly enough to be to sent to the bullpen on three different occasions, but in September went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA. Buchholz got pounded in two previous starts against Cleveland, giving up 9 runs on 11 hits and 7 walks over 10 innings.

Texas Rangers (Lewis 6-5, 3.71) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Sanchez 15-2, 3.00), Toronto leads series 2-0
7:30pm ET on TBS

The Blue Jays are in the driver’s seat after sweeping the the first two games of this best-of-five series in Texas, and head home with two chances to finish of the Rangers in Toronto. It was murder by long ball once again for the Blue Jays, who scored all their runs on 4 homers en route to a 5-3 win. The Rangers must be kicking themselves, given that they outhit the Jays 13-6, but still came up short in the run column.

With their season on the line, the Rangers will give the ball to Colby Lewis, who had been enjoying perhaps the best season of his career before getting sidelined for nearly 3 months with a torn muscle in his shoulder. After starting the season 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA, Lewis got lit up by Reds, giving up 6 runs in 5 innings, and promptly went on the DL. Since coming back on September 1, he’s 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA.

For the Jays, Aaron Sanchez looks to close out the series, coming off a breakout season in which he led the AL in winning percentage, ERA and home runs per 9. But in two starts against Texas this season, Sanchez gave up 9 runs in 13 ⅔ innings. Sanchez made a pair of relief appearances in last year’s playoffs, pitching 7 ⅓ shutout innings.

FS1 is available to Sling Blue subscribers;
TBS is available to all Sling subscribers.

All stats courtesy ESPN and Baseball Reference.

Back to What's On