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Playoff Reset: A must-win game for the Cubs

Jacob deGrom

Both the AL and NL are in action today. And while every game matters in a short series, if the Cubs don’t win this one they’ll likely be free to make early inning dinner reservations starting next Tuesday when the World Series starts. The Royals, meanwhile, don’t want to let the Jays even things up this afternoon. Because, given that lineup, even would seem like a disadvantage for Kansas City in some strange way, wouldn’t it?

The Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Rogers Centre
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Chris Young vs. R.A. Dickey
The Upshot: Chris Young is an Ivy League product. Dickey is a published author. They’re former teammates in both Texas and New York and they used to have long intellectual conversations with one another. In the other game you have Kyle Hendricks, who also went to an Ivy League school. Jacob deGrom once broke his finger while castrating a calf. He’s the best pitcher of the lot of them, of course. Baseball rules.

Anyway, I sort of love Dickey vs. the Royals. He’s 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts against them, and I can’t help but think the random and weak contact hitters get against knuckleballers harms them more than other teams given how much they rely on balls in play as opposed to homers. Young could be rusty: he hasn’t pitched since he struck out seven in four innings against the Astros twelve days ago. He has had some success in a couple of starts against the Jays.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Kyle Hendricks
The Upshot: Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard had no trouble with the Cubs’ big bats. If Jacob deGrom finds the sledding that easy, that’s pretty much all she wrote. And deGrom has been unbelievably tough. He was dominant in Game 1 against the Dodgers, striking out 13 while pitching seven scoreless innings. In Game 5 he really didn’t have his best stuff at all, but gutted out six innings on the edge. An extraordinarily mature performance for a young player and one which should warn the Cubs that the typical calculus in which one figures out early if the opposing pitcher is sharp or not is not necessarily operative. Then again, a lot of calculuses are non-operative for the Cubs, such as “it’s OK to pitch to Daniel Murphy, he can’t really hurt you too bad.”

Kyle Hendricks made one start in the Cubs’ ALDS appearance against the Cardinals, giving up three solo home runs and being pulled in the fifth inning. The Cubs won that game but Hendricks didn’t inspire a ton of confidence. In two starts against the Mets Hendricks has only allowed two runs in 13 innings. One was this past June. The other wasn’t even this season, so that really doesn’t matter too much given where and what the Mets are now.