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Royals/Orioles

The Royals look to keep their unlikely winning streak going, while wags will call this a "must win" for Baltimore.

Royals (Yordano Ventura) at Orioles (Bud Norris) 4:07 pm ET
PECOTA odds of winning: 50.5% Orioles, 49.5% Royals

Projected Starting Lineups

Royals vs. Norris (R)

Orioles vs. Ventura (R)

Alcides Escobar (R) SS

Nick Markakis (L) RF

Nori Aoki (L) RF

Alejandro De Aza (L) LF

Lorenzo Cain (R) CF

Adam Jones (R) CF

Eric Hosmer (L) 1B

Nelson Cruz (R) DH

Billy Butler (R) DH

Steven Pearce (R) 1B

Alex Gordon (L) LF

J.J. Hardy (R) SS

Salvador Perez (R) C

Ryan Flaherty (L) 3B

Omar Infante (R) 2B

Caleb Joseph (R) C

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

Jonathan Schoop (R) 2B

Injuries/Availability: Everybody should be available, including Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, who threw two innings apiece but in just 18 and 20 pitches.

Outlook: The Royals are in a tremendously advantageous position, having taken Game One while preparing today to send the 102-mph wonder up against an offense that was merely so-so against power arms this year. If they win and head back to Kansas City up two games to none, well, Ned Yost can just about start planning which odd moves he'll make in the World Series.

The Orioles announced late Friday that they will counter with Chen, who had a 2.89 ERA in the final three months of the year but got knocked out in the fourth inning by Detroit in the ALDS. There's one thing you can say about that start: He was pitch efficient. allowing just three pitches per batter as the Tigers more or less pummeled his early-count strikes. All three extra-base hits he allowed came on the first pitch, a double and two homers, one of which came on a slider left over the plate. (He allowed one first-pitch home run all regular season.) The Royals aren't known for their pummeling, but they are known for being aggressive, so this game might come down to whether Chen is able to steal early strikes without the Royals sitting on his early strikes. Norris, who started Game Three of the ALDS. Norris had the best Orioles start of that series, going 6 1/3 shutout innings, with six strikeouts and 12 swinging strikes in 100 pitches. That followed a strong September, in which he allowed a 2.08 ERA and struck out 34 in 30 innings. He has always been undone by his platoon splits, but the Royals don't stack their lineup for any man. They'll go with the same balanced L/R routine they've been using all year.

But forget all that. We know this game is going to come down to extra innings, just like all the Royals games do these days. It seems practically impossible that they'll keep homering at twice their rate, and it seems unlikely that those homers will keep coming in excessively high-leverage situations. But if you and I know that random events cluster in illusorily non-random clusters, Royals opponents are going to want to see some evidence (like a failure to pull out yet another miracle) before they feel comfortable.

Add it up, and PECOTA likes the Orioles' chances even less behind this pitching matchup than they did in the Game One matchup. Where in that game the Orioles were just 52 percent likely to win (less than home-field advantage confers), today they get only the slimmest, one-percentage-point edge. —Sam Miller

Giants/Cardinals

The NLCS begins with a heck of a pitching match-up.

Giants (Madison Bumgarner) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) 8:00 pm ET
PECOTA odds of winning: 35% Giants, 65% Cardinals

Projected Starting Lineups

Giants vs. Wainwright (R)

Cardinals vs. Bumgarner (L)

Gregor Blanco (L) CF

Matt Carpenter (L) 3B

Joe Panik (L) 2B

Randal Grichuk (R) RF

Buster Posey (R) C

Matt Holliday (R) LF

Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B

Jhonny Peralta (R) SS

Hunter Pence (R) RF

Matt Adams (L) 1B

Brandon Belt (L) 1B

Yadier Molina (R) C

Brandon Crawford (L) SS

Jon Jay (L) CF

Travis Ishikawa (L) LF

Kolten Wong (L) 2B

Madison Bumgarner (R) P

Adam Wainwright (R) P

Injuries/Availability: Adam Wainwright's barking arm could lead to an early exit or, worst yet, a late scratch from his scheduled start. The Giants, meanwhile, have a decision to make on Mike Morse. Do they throw him into the lineup, rust and all, or work him back into shape throughout the series?

Outlook: So much of this game—of this series, really—rests on Wainwright's right arm.

If Wainwright goes, we're looking at a face-off between two of the most successful postseason (and obviously regular-season) pitchers going. This ought to be Wainwright's 20 career postseason appearance, and his second against the Giants, whom he last faced in Game Four of the 2012 NLCS. Unlike that start, in which he threw seven one-run innings, his only appearance this postseason was an ugly one: 4 1/3 innings and six runs on 11 hits against the Dodgers. The Cardinals hope he's better—physically and statistically—this time out.

Then there's Bumgarner: a 25-year-old about to make his 10th postseason appearance. He hasn't faced the Cardinals aside from a poor start in Game One of that 2012 NLCS, where he couldn't make it through four complete innings. Bumgarner hasn't had any such problems so far this October: in two starts he's tossed 16 innings, allowed three runs, and struck out eight batters per walk. —R.J. Anderson