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Postseason Starting Pitching Matchups: September 30

The postseason has begun, and this year more than ever before, the schedule can be very overwhelming. I’ve decided to breakdown the starting pitching matchups daily every day until the end of the World Series, including which one I think should be the highest priority to watch.

12:08 pm EDT: Trevor Bauer, Reds @ Max Fried, Braves

Trevor Bauer is likely to be the NL Cy Young, after leading the league in ERA and xERA, as well as placing in the top 5 in FIP and xFIP. Bauer goes deep into his starts, averaging more than 6.5 innings per start, and even able to often pitch on short rest. He’s combative and polarizing, but Bauer is an ace and a dominant presence to have for Game 1. The Braves counter with an ace of their own in young Max Fried, who posted a 2.25 ERA in 56 IP in 2020. Fried has gotten a bit lucky, as he allowed only 2 HR on the season, but his ability to induce ineffective contact is elite, especially on his devastating curve.

Where to watch: ESPN

1:08pm EDT: Jose Urquidy, Astros @ José Berríos, Twins (HOU leads 1-0)

After piggybacking their two best starters in the first game, the Astros will replicate the same strategy to try to advance, albeit with lesser arms. Jose Urquidy was great in the 2019 Postseason and has a shiny 2.73 ERA this year, but they mask an ugly 4.71 FIP and 5.36 xFIP. His likely follow-up is Christian Javier, a rookie who also has a low ERA and shaky peripherals. Both, however, have been more effective their first time through the order, something the piggybacking strategy will use as an advantage. The Twins, meanwhile, will send out José Berríos to try to stay alive. While Berríos has been only slightly better than league average in 2020, he has great stuff and a history of success and should be quite good if he can limit walks to his pre-2020 levels.

Where to watch: ESPN2

2:08pm EDT: Sandy Alcantara, Marlins @ Kyle Hendricks, Cubs

Sandy Alcantara is among the plethora of young Marlins pitchers with a big arm and little experience. Alcantara has averaged 6 innings a start in 2020, and he’s a ground ball machine whose K% is up this year. He could go deep into the game successfully against a struggling Cubs lineup. Facing off with Alcantara is the soft-tossing Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks doesn’t strike out, walk, or give up hard contact to many batters. He has pinpoint command of a vast array of darting and breaking pitches, allowing him to go through the order multiple times and post a 3.12 career ERA over 7 seasons.

Where to watch: ABC

3:10 pm EDT: Dallas Keuchel, White Sox @ Chris Bassitt, Athletics (CWS leads 1-0)

Five years ago, Dallas Keuchel won a Cy Young. This year he’s been even better, with the best ERA- and FIP- of his career. Keuchel doesn’t strike hitters out, but he gets lots of weak contact and walks very few, a model for the success he’ll look to use to advance his team to the ALDS. Chris Bassitt, meanwhile, has been a breakout star for the A’s. The reigning AL pitcher of the month finished the year with a 2.29 ERA and will attempt to continue his hot streak to continue his team’s season. He profiles similarly to his opponent, with low K and BB rates, potentially keeping his pitch count low to save a bullpen used heavily yesterday. This game should feature lots of balls in play and defensive opportunities.

Where to watch: ESPN

4:07 pm EDT: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blue Jays @ Tyler Glasnow, Rays (TBR leads 1-0)

Over the past three seasons, Hyun-Jin Ryu has the second-best ERA in baseball at 2.30, and the Blue Jays will turn to their ace to stave off elimination after a piggybacking performance faltered yesterday. Ryu is a master at inducing poor contact and also walks no one in addition to striking out about a batter an inning. This is one of the hardest pitchers in baseball to square up. On the other side, Tyler Glasnow is all strikeouts and walks. He put up a ludicrous 14.28 K/9, but also 3.45 BB/9. Glasnow features a fastball that reaches triple digits and a devastating curve and has maybe the best stuff of any starting pitcher in MLB. When he’s on, Glasnow is utterly dominant, and if he’s on today the Rays should coast into advancing.

Where to watch: TBS

5:08 pm EDT: Kwang-Hyun Kim, Cardinals @ Chris Paddack, Padres

In his first season stateside, Kwang-Hyun Kim has posted a stat line that could only be possible in 2020. Kim has a dazzling 1.62 ERA in 39.0 IP, but his 3.88 FIP and 3.81 xERA are likely more indicative of his true talent. He won’t strike many out, but elevating the ball will be tough against Kim, who has an even 50.0 GB%. As for the Padres Chris Paddack, 2020 has been a year to forget. His FIP and xERA both sit above 5, mostly due to an over 3mph increase in average exit velocity against him. Paddack still doesn’t walk anyone and whiffs a healthy amount, but when opponents do hit the ball against him, they crush it, to the tune of a .487 xSLG.

Where to watch: ESPN2

7:08 pm EDT: Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees @ Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland (NYY leads 1-0)

The 2020 numbers for Masahiro Tanaka were rather pedestrian, with his peripherals suggesting a league-average pitcher. However, Tanaka has been dominant in 8 career Postseason starts, with a 1.76 ERA, and a continuation of this trend would send his Yankees to the ALDS. He’ll also be backed by a tremendous and well-rested bullpen, a needed boost given he’s averaged under 5 innings a start this year. After missing much of 2019 due to leukemia, Carlos Carrasco is back to being a frontline starter. His walks have gone up, but Carrasco had another sub-3 ERA this year and struck out a hair under 11 per 9 innings. After the pounding their ace took yesterday, Cleveland desperately needs their elite veteran to step up if they want to play another day.

Where to watch: ESPN

10:08 pm EDT: Brent Suter, Brewers @ Walker Buehler, Dodgers

After an injury to their Cy Young candidate, the Brewers will be using a variety of relievers in the opening game, starting with the soft-tossing and dominant lefty Brent Suter. Despite rarely cracking 90mph, Suter has struck out 10.8 per 9 innings and posted a FIP under 3 for the second straight season. He also induces poor contact, with an average exit velocity of just 84.5mph against him. For the Dodgers, a traditional starter in the imposing presence of Walker Buehler will take the mound. One of the elite young arms in baseball, Buehler has pitched to a career 3.15 ERA and 3.23 FIP with 28.6 K-BB%. Blister issues in 2020 have hampered with control a bit, leading to an uptick in walks and home runs allowed, but with that problem seemingly behind him, Buehler is far more threatening than his seasonal 3.93 xFIP would suggest, especially considering his career 2.72 Postseason ERA (2.74 FIP) over 36.1 IP.

Where to watch: ESPN

Must-Watch Game of the Day

On his good days, Glasnow is very possibly the best pitcher in baseball, and even on his bad days, his visceral stuff makes him a treat to watch. The dichotomy between Glasnow and Ryu, one of the most consistently excellent pitchers in baseball the last few years, will only add to the entertainment value. Additionally, the narrative of the AL favorites looking to advance and the fun young underdog trying to just hold on one more day makes this game the headliner of a very full slate.

Sean Huff

Sean is an applied psychology graduate student in his third semester at Fordham College of Arts and Sciences. He is a lifelong baseball fan with a nominal affinity for the Phillies. You can follow him on Twitter at @srhkthew2 for occasional comments on baseball and assorted esoterica.

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