14 games into the division series, and all eight teams remain alive. Quite a contrast to last year, where we only played two games over the minimum, with 14 games being enough to settle all four division series. Depending on how results go today, we could even see the golden scenario for MLB, the broadcasters and sponsors, where every contest goes the maximum five games. The only time that has happened in the divisional era was in 2012; the Cardinals will be hoping for a repeat, not only as the only team this post-season who took part that year, but also because they beat Washington, scoring four in the ninth inning of Game 5.
However, I would be perfectly happy for the Mets to spoil that party, and close out their set against the Dodgers in four games. I would particularly enjoy seeing Clayton Kershaw's face in the dugout as the final outs tick away, with the Mets holding on to a comfortable advantage. Or perhaps it would be better if the Dodgers' bullpen coughed up the lead? Oh, hang on: that can't happen, they don't have any former Diamondback relievers, do they? Get rid of Los Angeles, and then we can all sit back and enjoy the rest of the playoffs purely for entertainment purpose, rather than a burning negative passion.
1:37pm, TBS. Game 4: Cubs lead 2-1
|Matt Carpenter - 3B||Dexter Fowler - CF|
|Stephen Piscotty - 1B||Jorge Soler - RF|
|Matt Holliday - LF||Kris Bryant - 3B|
|Jason Heyward - RF||Anthony Rizzo - 1B|
|Jhonny Peralta - SS||Starlin Castro - 2B|
|Randal Grichuk - CF||Kyle Schwarber - LF|
|Kolten Wong - 2B||Miguel Montero - C|
|Tony Cruz - C||Jason Hammel - RHP|
|John Lackey - RHP||Javier Baez - SS|
But before that, this. The Cubs teeter on the edge of making it to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003, and the Cardinals will be sending out the Game 1 winner on short rest, in an attempt to force a Game 5 back in St. Louis. He certainly did a good job of handcuffing the Cubs there, tossing 7.1 innings of two-hit ball, but in four regular season starts on less than four days off, he has an ERA of 4.87. On the other hand, in the 2013 World Series, he pitched in games 2, 4 and 6, winning the last with 6.2 innings of one-run ball. So pick the history which suits your narrative!
5:07pm, TBS. Game 4: Mets lead 2-1
Similarly, the Dodgers send out Kershaw on short rest, looking to take things back to Los Angeles where Zack Greinke would await the Mets. It's nothing new for Kershaw, as he has done it twice in the post-season previously, but lost his most recent such appearance, under similar circumstances last season, pitching Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. He has also lost his last five post-season starts, and overall is now 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA, despite striking out 69 in 57.2 playoff innings. Meanwhile, the Mets send out a rookie with precisely six major-league appearances to his name, albeit one who has yet to taste defeat. Hopefully, today will not be that day!