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October madness: All 4 MLB division playoff series in action


October madness: All 4 MLB division playoff series in action



Series: Rangers lead 1-0
 Rogers Centre, Toronto
Gametime: 12:30 p.m.
TV: MLB Network
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Indoors
Starting pitchers: TEX LHP Cole Hamels (13–8, 3.65 ERA) / RHP Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 ERA)

Game 1 was a letdown for the home crowd in Toronto, as David Price was rocked in a 5-3 loss. The Blue Jays now enter Friday hoping to even up the series and avoid going to Arlington in an 0-2 hole.

In order to get even, Toronto will have to beat former World Series MVP Cole Hamels. As a long-time member of the NL, Hamels hasn't pitched in Toronto since 2009. He did see the Blue Jays in Philly last season, but gave up five earned runs on 10 hits and two homers in six innings of work.

Young right-hander Marcus Stroman will pitch for the Blue Jays in only his fifth game of 2015 due to a torn ACL in the spring. He has allowed only five earned runs in 27 innings since coming back.


Series: Astros lead 1-0
 Kaufmann Stadium, Kansas City
Gametime: 3:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 65 degrees, wind 9 mph
Starting pitchers: HOU LHP Scott Kazmir (7-11, 3.10 ERA) / KCR RHP Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44 ERA)

The Royals are in a similar situation to the Blue Jays after losing Game 1 at home. And, given they stole home field advantage last postseason against both the Angels and Orioles, they know very well the danger of losing Game 2.

Johnny Cueto, their big trade deadline acquisition, will be tasked with preventing that. Cueto has not been great since joining the Royals - he has a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts - and he has a rough playoff history. But, he was brought in for games like this, so we'll see if he rises to the occasion.

Scott Kazmir, who the Astros also trade for midseason, will start opposite Cueto. The veteran lefty has also been inconsistent since joining his new team with a 4.17 ERA in 13 outings. Kazmir does, however, have a 2.11 ERA against the Royals this season, having faced them three times back when he was with the A's in the AL West.


Series: 0-0
 Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Gametime: 6:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Cloudy, 66 degrees, wind 11 mph
Starting pitchers: CHC LHP Jon Lester (11-12, 3.34 ERA) / STL RHP John Lackey (13-10, 2.77 ERA)

After taking care of the Pirates - owners of the league's second-best record - in the NL Wild Card game, the Cubs will now take their shot at the Cardinals, MLB's only 100-win team. Jon Lester will start for Chicago and look to follow up a dominant start from his rotation mate, Jake Arrieta.

Lester has lots of playoff experience to pull from having won two World Series rings with the Red Sox. He boasts a 2.57 ERA in 14 postseason games.

John Lackey has also won two World Series titles, including one as Lester's teammate in Boston. Lackey is coming off the best season of his 13-year MLB career.


Series: 0-0
 Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Gametime: 9:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, wind 5 mph
Starting pitchers: NYM RHP Jacob deGrom (14–8, 2.54 ERA) / LAD LHP Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA)

There are plenty of aces in action on Friday, but if you like pitching, it would be tough to top this particular matchup. In one corner you have Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher of this generation. And in the other, you've got Jacob deGrom, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year who might be the most underrated ace in the game.

Kershaw will look to overcome his playoff demons of the past. He holds a 5.12 postseason ERA which is more than double his 2.43 career regular season mark. That can't possibly continue, can it?

Kershaw may have to be dominant to outduel deGrom, who enters the playoffs with a 2.54 ERA. deGrom, however, struggled down the stretch with a 4.91 ERA in his last seven starts through August and September.


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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.


Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.


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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm