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Taijuan Walker of Arizona Diamondbacks has UCL injury, will get second opinion

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Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker has an injured ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, but the team is uncertain about the severity of the injury.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters Tuesday that he did not know whether Walker’s ligament is torn — an injury that typically requires Tommy John surgery.

“I apologize for being vague, but it’s very vague right now,” Lovullo said, according to MLB.com. “Every bit of information that we’ve gotten is vague. I know in the coming days I’ll have more information about what the next steps are.”

Walker underwent an MRI on Monday and was scheduled to travel to New York on Tuesday to get a second opinion. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since Sunday with what the team initially described as forearm tightness.

“This information (the UCL injury) came as a surprise to me,” Lovullo said. “I thought that he would be OK. It just goes to show you that you can’t ever be too safe. I want to believe that he’s going to be OK, but he’s being examined, and where it takes him from here we’re not sure. It’s still wide open.”

Walker, 25, has a 3.46 ERA in three starts this season, his second with the Diamondbacks. Lovullo mentioned Braden Shipley and Matt Koch as likely candidates to fill Walker’s rotation spot, which comes up again Friday when the Diamondbacks play the San Diego Padres.

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MLB Playoffs Daily – Get ready for eight postseason games on one day!

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For the first time ever we get eight MLB playoff matchups in a single day! Whether you are a National League fan waiting for your series to start or an American League fan seeing if your team can move on (or stay alive) — or just a baseball fan ready to sit back and enjoy the madness — Wednesday has something for everyone.

Here’s your guide to every game, stats to know while you watch, a hot take sure to get your blood boiling and a look back at the best from Tuesday’s action.

Key links: Preview | Predictions | Schedule, bracket | Playoff Baseball Classic

Watch: ESPN+ Squeeze Play. Whiparound coverage of all eight postseason games

What’s on tap

All times Eastern; all series best-of-three played entirely in higher seed’s home park

Game 1: No. 7 Cincinnati Reds (Trevor Bauer) at No. 2 Atlanta Braves (Max Fried), noon on ESPN

The Braves’ offense comes in red-hot after averaging an MLB-best 6.65 runs per game in September, but Atlanta faces the National League’s likely Cy Young winner in Bauer, who led the league in ERA (1.73) and WHIP (0.795) and the majors with two complete-game shutouts. But that isn’t the only unstoppable force/immovable object confrontation in this game — Fried’s 0.9% rate of home runs allowed would have been the NL’s lowest had he qualified, and the Reds’ homer-happy lineup ranked fifth in MLB in home-run rate.

Game 2: No. 6 Houston Astros (TBD) at No. 3 Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios), 1 p.m. on ESPN2

Can Berrios snap the Twins’ postseason losing streak at 17 as Minnesota faces an early elimination game? In two postseason starts, he’s allowed six runs in seven innings, which might make for an early hook. But the Game 1 meltdown of the Twins’ bullpen — seen as a strength coming into the series — was far from reassuring. Despite the Astros’ arrival in this postseason as underdogs after a losing season on top of losing Justin Verlander for the year, they’re a team with plenty of playoff experience.

Game 1: No. 6 Miami Marlins (Sandy Alcantara) at No. 3 Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 2 p.m. on ABC

The most recent time the Marlins went to Wrigley Field in the postseason was in 2003, down 3-2 in the National League Championship Series. They won the infamous “Bartman Game” in Game 6, and then put the Cubs away in Game 7. The Cubs have already beaten the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” with their World Series win in 2016 — will they also avenge that infamous upset by beating a plucky Marlins team that has bounced back from early-season problems with COVID-19?

Game 2: No. 7 Chicago White Sox (Dallas Keuchel) at No. 2 Oakland Athletics (Chris Bassitt), 3 p.m. on ESPN

Keuchel comes into the game having delivered a sharp season for the Sox, while the A’s lineup has struggled against left-handed starters all year, hitting just .220/.312/.372 against them. The hope for the A’s is that Bassitt keeps the game close after earning AL pitcher of the month honors for four consecutive quality starts in September, and has a little extra in him facing the team that traded him to Oakland to help the A’s win what could be a low-scoring game.

Game 2: No. 8 Toronto Blue Jays (Hyun-Jin Ryu) at No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays (Tyler Glasnow), 4 p.m. on TBS

Among pitchers with 40 or more innings pitched in 2020, Glasnow’s 38.2% strikeout rate was third in the majors behind two guys named Bieber and deGrom. But perhaps strangely considering this year’s heavily intradivision schedule, this will be his first start against the Blue Jays. Ryu made two nondescript early-season starts against the Rays before heating up down the stretch with five quality starts in his final six turns, with Toronto winning all five. Can he help the Blue Jays force a Game 3?

Game 1: No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals (Kwang-Hyun Kim) at No. 4 San Diego Padres (Chris Paddack), 5 p.m. on ESPN2

Jeff Passan asked Tuesday about the scheduled absence of the Cardinals’ ace, “where’s Jack Flaherty?”, noting that the Padres’ big-inning offense has feasted on lower-velocity fastballs. But the Padres’ dynamic lineup also has also performed less well against lefty starters than right-handers (.322 wOBA vs. .341), and the Cardinals won five of Kim’s seven starts — and Kim allowed just one unearned run over 13 innings in the two turns the Birds didn’t win.

Game 2: No. 5 New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) at No. 4 Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco), 7 p.m. on ESPN

After experiencing the massive disappointment of witnessing its ace getting crushed in the series’ first game, Cleveland faces the tough challenge of facing Tanaka, whose 1.76 ERA in eight postseason starts with the Yankees presents a daunting prospect in an elimination game. Though Carrasco has pitched well in the postseason in the past, the Indians have lost both of his starts.

Game 1: No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers (Brent Suter) at No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 10 p.m. on ESPN

Brewers skipper Craig Counsell is likely to pull out all the stops in trying to eke out a win in Game 1 with staff-best starter Brandon Woodruff lined up for Game 2, so while Suter starts, don’t be surprised to see a quick move to Milwaukee’s fearsome pen. Buehler is probably the best starter in baseball’s best rotation, so expect him to keep the Brewers in check. The challenge will be for the Dodgers’ lineup to keep pace with Counsell’s machinations.


If you watch only one game today it should be …

All of them! It could not possibly get any better for baseball fans than eight MLB playoff games on the same day, so take them all in any way you can. But that’s sort of a cop-out for this question, so we’ll put it this way instead: Which game should you put on the big TV while you juggle all the rest?

Reds-Braves. Cincinnati has been a trendy upset pick going into the matchup and the first game of the series will go a long way toward determining if that comes true. The Reds send NL Cy Young candidate Trevor Bauer to the mound against a Braves lineup that can absolutely mash. Grab some popcorn and start your Wednesday in baseball heaven with this matchup. — Dan Mullen


Hot take of the day

That’s it. I’ve picked the A’s too many times. I picked them in last year’s wild-card game, figuring they were due to win something. I had picked them in the 2018 wild-card game in an upset over the Yankees, figuring Bob Melvin’s bullpen game was a stroke of genius. It wasn’t. I still can’t believe they blew that 2014 wild-card game to the Royals. Please, don’t bring up the 2002 American League Division Series, when Cy Young winner Barry Zito didn’t start until Game 3. He won, but the A’s lost Games 4 and 5.

So, naturally, I picked the A’s to beat the White Sox, paying too much attention to Chicago’s late-season fade and not enough to Oakland winning a weak AL West — they played just six games all season against teams that finished with a winning record. Despite that weak schedule, the A’s hit just .225. Let’s just say the Mariners, Angels and Rangers weren’t exactly throwing Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz out there. Yes, Lucas Giolito was terrific on Tuesday, but I have a feeling Dallas Keuchel will be terrific in Game 2. The A’s will be done early. Again. And don’t get me going on the Twins … — David Schoenfield


Stat of the day

Inside the Twins’ 17-game postseason losing streak — the longest in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history:

• They scored first and had a lead in 11 of those 17 games — and led 1-0 on Tuesday.

• They were outscored 42-14 in seventh inning or later, including getting outscored 4-0 by the Astros in their first game.

• 27 MLB teams have won a playoff game since the Twins most recently won one. The Mariners and Marlins are the others who haven’t, but neither has played a playoff game since. Of course, the Marlins and Twins both play Wednesday afternoon. Will that number go up to 28, or can the Twins finally win a postseason game?

For ESPN+ MLB postseason betting info, check out our picks and best bets


About last night …

Lucas Giolito flirted with perfection for the White Sox, not allowing an A’s baserunner until the seventh inning in his postseason debut. Backed by three home runs, that was more than enough to stymie Oakland in a 4-1 victory and put the Sox a win away from their first postseason series win since their World Series title in 2005. … The Twins and Astros were knotted up 1-1 going into the ninth before Houston exploded for a trio of runs against Minnesota’s bullpen to extend the Twin Cities’ streak of postseason misfortune to a record 17 consecutive losses. … The Rays jumped out to an early advantage over the Blue Jays with 3-1 victory keyed by Blake Snell taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, with Manuel Margot sealing the win with his two-run home run in the seventh inning. … The duel of aces expected between Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole didn’t live up to its billing, as the Yankees crushed Bieber in a 12-3 rout while Cole struck out 13 batters to set a Yankees record for whiffs in a pinstriped postseason debut.


Social media post of the day


Best moment of the MLB playoffs to date

After all of the buildup over a billed duel between the ace starters on the Indians and the Yankees, Aaron Judge clearly had other ideas about what to do with this Shane Bieber offering in the first inning, proving yet again Judge is everything MLB should want in a superstar:

play

0:21

Aaron Judge blasts a two-run homer to right-center to put the Yankees up 2-0 over the Indians.


And the running MLB playoffs MVP is …

Right now, it has to be Lucas Giolito. After spinning the season’s first no-hitter back in August, we knew he’d be fearsome in October. But his dominance in Game 1 for the White Sox, daring to go where only Don Larsen has gone before in postseason history, that’s the stuff of series-defining excellence that could mean a lot more than just torching the flammable A’s in one series. It could set up the sort of terrorized drama of anticipation we haven’t seen since Madison Bumgarner in 2014, or Mike Scott in 1986, where the knowledge that you’re going to have to face that guy occasions desperation in opponents in October.



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Milwaukee Brewers turn to Brent Suter for Game 1 start vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES — The Milwaukee Brewers, still scrambling after the sudden loss of ace Corbin Burnes, will start left-hander Brent Suter in Game 1 of the team’s National League wild-card series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell wouldn’t specify parameters for Suter — “The parameters are to get people out,” Counsell said — but Suter hasn’t recorded more than 12 outs or thrown more than 59 pitches this season. Both of those occurred in Suter’s most recent appearance, on Friday, when he threw four scoreless innings in a spot start against the St. Louis Cardinals.

His next appearance will come in the crucial tone-setter of a best-of-three series opposite electric right-hander Walker Buehler (first pitch from Dodger Stadium is 10 p.m. ET on ESPN). The decision leaves Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee’s best healthy starter by a wide margin, to pitch on normal rest in Thursday’s Game 2.

Suter throws his fastball in the mid-80s, but he is effective at generating ground balls and was able to strike out 38 batters in 31⅔ innings this season, coupling that with a 3.13 ERA. The Brewers lined it up weeks ago for Burnes to start Game 1 of a potential postseason series, then watched him suffer what could end up being a season-ending oblique strain on Thursday.

“We’re on Plan B,” Counsell said of Suter, “but it’s a good Plan B.”

Suter’s start, regardless of its effectiveness, will force the Brewers to rely heavily on their relievers from the onset. Devin Williams and Josh Hader provide them with one of the best bullpen duos in the postseason, but those two won’t be able to pick up all of the remaining innings in Game 1 without being unable to bounce back to pitch in Game 2. Pitchers such as Eric Yardley, Corey Knebel, Drew Rasmussen and others — potentially starters like Josh Lindblom or Adrian Houser — will have to step up.

“We’re gonna need contributions from relievers beyond those two guys,” Counsell said. “That’s absolutely important. It’s obviously more important in a day like tomorrow.”

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MLB video reviews overturned 42% of checked calls in regular season

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NEW YORK — Video reviews overturned 42.4% of calls checked during Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season, down slightly from 44% in 2019.

The Boston Red Sox were the most successful team, gaining overturned calls on 10 of 13 challenges for 76.9%. The Chicago White Sox were second, successful on 8 of 11 challenges for 72.7%, followed by the Kansas City Royals at 7 of 10 (70%).

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the least successful at 2 of 11 (18.2%), and the Toronto Blue Jays were 7-for-25 (28%).

The Minnesota Twins had the most challenges with 28 and were successful on nine (32.1%). The New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers tied for the fewest with nine each; the Yankees were successful on five (55.6%) and the Brewers three (33.3%).

MLB said Tuesday there were 468 manager challenges and 58 crew chief reviews among 526 total reviews during 898 games. The average time of a review was 1 minute, 25 seconds, up from 1:16 the previous season, when there were 1,186 manager challenges and 170 crew chief reviews among 1,356 reviews during 2,429 games.

This year’s replays saw 104 calls confirmed (19.8%), 181 that stood (34.4%) and 223 overturned. An additional 12 calls (2.3%) were for rules checks and six (1.1%) for recording-keeping.

In 2019, there were 277 calls confirmed (12.5%), 463 that stood (34.1%) and 597 overturned. An additional nine calls (0.7%) were for rules checks and 10 (0.7%) for record-keeping.

Expanded video review started in 2014.

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