Dodgers continue NLCS rematch with Cubs; Greinke returns to Milwaukee
By Daniel Kramer
One of the game's biggest non-divisional rivalries continues today on MLB.TV, as the Rangers and Blue Jays meet north of the border.
Having met the past two postseasons -- and with some physicality in between -- these clubs convene at respective stages that they haven't been accustomed to in recent years, with the Rangers playing catchup in the American League West and the Blue Jays in last place in the AL East.
Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Zack Greinke returns to Miller Park for the fourth time as a visitor. A matchup in Pittsburgh features a pair of fireballers in Zack Wheeler and Gerrit Cole. And in Los Angeles, the Cubs and Dodgers meet for the fifth time in '17 in a National League Championship Series rematch.
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Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
Hello, again: TEX@TOR, 1:07 p.m.
Each team's ace takes the hill in this matinee, as Yu Darvish squares off against Marco Estrada. Darvish is averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings and two starts ago, became the fastest Ranger to reach 50 wins. Darvish's walk rate is up a tad, but that might be correlated with 11.4 percent rate of pitches on the corners, third-highest in MLB, according to Statcast™.
Estrada, meanwhile, has made his living right down broadway. He's generating swinging strikes on 16.9 percent of all middle-middle pitches he's thrown, fourth-highest in MLB. The right-hander is coming off arguably his best start of '17 -- going 7 2/3 innings in which he gave up just one run and matched a career high 12 strikeouts in a 3-1 win over the Orioles to avoid a sweep.
Zack's back: ARI@MIL, 4:10 p.m.
Greinke is 1-2 with a 3.57 ERA at Miller Park since he was traded from the Brewers in 2012. This month, Greinke is 4-0, and batters are hitting him just .152 with 38 strikeouts and four walks. Greinke has attributed his slider for his resurgence.
"First, it was my slider was working really good," Greinke said of his winning streak. "Last two starts, just kind of pitching good, it's not necessarily one pitch or another."
He'll square off against the Brewers' Chase Anderson, whose 84.9 mph average exit velocity against ranks 11th-best in MLB (minimum 100 batted ball events), per Statcast™, down nearly 2 full miles per hour from last year.
Flamethrowers face off: NYM@PIT, 7:15 p.m.
Wheeler got bumped back a day as part of the Mets tinkering their rotation with inclement weather hitting Pittsburgh. In his first season back from Tommy John surgery and with nearly two months under his belt, Wheeler has started to find his ground. He's compiled a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts, of which the Mets have won two.
Cole is coming off an uncharacteristic off night on Monday in Atlanta, having allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, snapping a streak of eight starts in which he'd pitched at least six innings.
NLCS rematch: CHC@LAD, 7:15 p.m.
John Lackey had to battle windy conditions his last time out Monday against the Giants, who scored five runs on seven hits.
"I threw the ball better tonight than I have my last three [starts]," Lackey said after the 6-4 loss. "I felt I executed quite a few pitches. They got a few more balls up than we did."
This is Lackey's first outing at Dodger Stadium since Game 4 of the NLCS last October, in which he gave up just three hits and two runs, but was pulled after four innings.
Brandon McCarthy started the only game the Dodgers won against the Cubs in their three-game set at Wrigley earlier this season. He held the Cubs scoreless in six innings, while striking out four.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.