LEADING OFF: Utley’s appeal, Arrieta up for Cubs
A look at what’s happening around the major leagues Monday:
After an off day, both NL Division Series resume with Game 3s as the Cardinals visit the Cubs at 6:07 p.m. EDT and the Mets host the Dodgers at 8:37 p.m. EDT. In the AL, the Astros can punch their ticket to the Championships Series with a Game 4 win against the Royals at 1:07 p.m. EDT, while the Rangers lead the Blue Jays 2-1 in a best-of-five series and try to eliminate Toronto at 4:07 p.m. EDT after failing to do so Sunday.
UTLEY TAKEN OUT
Matt Harvey makes his postseason debut at Citi Field, and somehow, that’s no longer the most intriguing plot line as the Mets and Dodgers continue their NL Division Series. On Sunday, Major League Baseball suspended Los Angeles second baseman Chase Utley for Games 3 and 4 for an illegal slide that broke New York shortstop Ruben Tejada’s right leg in Game 2. Utley is appealing the suspension, with his agent, Joel Wolfe, calling the penalty ”outrageous and completely unacceptable.” MLB will try to resolve the appeal prior to Game 3, as Utley will be allowed to play until the process is completed. The news overshadows an anticipated start from Harvey, who recently drew criticism for showing up late to New York’s first postseason workout without a public explanation.
OCTOBER WITH THE IVY
The Cubs send out ace Jake Arrieta for the first postseason game at Wrigley Field in seven years. Chicago and St. Louis split two games at Busch Stadium, meaning Arrieta has a chance to pitch the Cubs within a game of the NL Championship Series. Over his last 16 starts – including a shutout of the Pirates in the NL wild-card game – Arrieta is 13-1 with a 0.70 ERA, and the Cubs haven’t lost with him on the mound since July 25. The Cardinals have beaten elite pitchers in the postseason before, most notably getting to Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw twice last year. Michael Wacha pitches for St. Louis, making his first postseason appearance since allowing a game-ending homer to Travis Ishikawa in Game 5 of last year’s NLCS in San Francisco.
Just 22, Lance McCullers has a chance to pitch the Astros into the AL Championship Series in Game 4 against the Royals. McCullers said he doesn’t ”view himself as a young kid when” he goes out to pitch, and didn’t look it when he posted a 3.22 ERA in the regular season, best among all rookies with at least 20 starts. He’ll face another fireballing youngster in Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura, who was limited to two innings in a rain-delayed Game 1 and finished the season with a 2.38 ERA in his last 11 starts.
BACK AT IT
After Martin Perez and the Rangers failed to close the door on the Blue Jays on Sunday, Derek Holland gets a chance to eliminate Toronto in his first start of this postseason. Holland missed four months during the regular season after tearing a muscle in his throwing shoulder in his first start. After stringing together a few dominant performances following his return, he closed the season with a 7.62 ERA in his final five starts. For Toronto, 40-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is scheduled to make his postseason debut after posting a 2.43 ERA in his last six starts.